Three Gorges Probe

China revives controversial resettlement plan

Three Gorges Probe
April 16, 1997

China has revived a controversial plan to resettle Han Chinese, China’s ethnic majority, into the western province of Xinjiang, populated mainly by Muslim minorities, to make way for the massive Three Gorges dam.


But according to a news report, Xinjiang’s Communist Party boss Wang Lequan has opposed the plan to resettle 50,000-100,00 people, mostly Han Chinese, in the western region. The Han account for more than 90 percent of China’s 1.2 billion people. The chairman of the Xinjiang regional government has also reportedly voiced his opposition to the resettlement plan. Any plans to change the ethnic balance in Xinjiang would add to the long-simmering tensions between Muslim ethnic groups and Han Chinese, says the report.

The plan to move Han Chinese to the minority region of Xinjiang sparked outrage when it was first proposed in 1992. Exiled Muslim activists called on the international community to take action to stop the resettlement scheme before their compatriots had to "choose between national extinction through gradual assimilation or a mortal struggle to defend their own identity."

Chinese authorities have warned in the past that the project’s resettlement plan could cause massive civil unrest and that security measures must be taken to "uphold the policy of speed and severity in striking timely blows at crimes and criminals that sabotage Three Gorges construction and relocation." According to internal security documents leaked in 1995, the police are increasing the "fighting effectiveness of [their] ranks" to deal with "bloody armed incidents."

Canada’s Monenco-AGRA, meanwhile, is helping the Chinese with their resettlement plans with a $35 million computer system which will coordinate the resettlement of 1.3 million people to make way for the dam’s reservoir. The deal was signed on a Team Canada trade mission to China in 1994. Canada’s Export Development Corporation, a Crown corporation, is lending the Chinese government $12.5 million to purchase the computer system from Monenco-AGRA.


Categories: Three Gorges Probe

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