The Ottawa Citizen
March 19, 2000
The Three Gorges Dam mega-project has been plagued by economic environmental, and political problems — but the money from Canada just keeps flooding in. Jack Aubry reports.
The Export Development Corp., among the first international financiers to bless the much-criticized Three Gorges Dam in China, continues to back the massive hydroelectric project despite a recent string of serious environmental, economic and corruption problems.
The corruption surrounding the $30-billion project reached new heights recently when a Chinese official was sentenced to death for embezzling more than $2 million from funds targeted to relocate 1.3 million people out of the rerouted water path from the world’s largest hydro dam.
The EDC has been criticized for being the first export credit agency on record to support the mega-dam. Six years ago it agreed to provide $170 million in financing for the sale of Canadian turbines, generators and computers for the project.
China’s most spectacular construction since the Great Wall, the damming of the mighty Yangtze River will create a 660-kilometre inland sea that will be longer than Lake Superior.
The project is opposed by environmental and human rights groups around the world, which have noted the jailing of numerous Chinese experts and the censorship of critical documents in connection with the dam.
U.S. government agencies and the World Bank have shied away from the project, as have some private companies, including engineering giant Bechtel Group Inc.
Despite the recent death sentence and reports of massive graft — along with construction problems and delays — the EDC has no plans to back away from the project.