June 1, 2002
We started an Internet news service called Three Gorges Probe to make news about the dam available to the 56 million Chinese citizens who depend on the Internet for independent information.
The Three Gorges dam is being built today because it was approved in a secretive environment, without the checks and balances and the rule of law that exist in a democracy. It was approved because technical details and analysis were distorted and locked away from public view, because newspapers were permitted to run only "positive reporting" on the dam, and because critics were banned from publishing, and jailed for doing so. The Internet has changed the rules of the game. Through the Web, Probe International has made sure that the truth about the Three Gorges dam’s enormous costs and unrealistic benefits is now available to Chinese citizens, experts, and Chinese authorities. Because there is no free press in China, and because criticism of the Three Gorges dam is still banned, we started an Internet news service called Three Gorges Probe to make this news available to the 56 million Chinese citizens who depend on the Internet for independent information.
Our readership grows exponentially, as Three Gorges Probe becomes the single most important source of up-to-date and comprehensive information about the dam. Published in traditional and simplified Chinese scripts, as well as in English, the various editions of Three Gorges Probe and our associated Three Gorges Web site, receive an astounding 4,000 hits a day, or 1. 5 million hits a year. Our stories are picked up and broadcast by leading news agencies like the BBC and the most popular Chinese Internet sites, making Three Gorges Probe “the” source of breaking news about the dam.
Three Gorges Probe has become one of the last, best hopes to stop this dam. Now is the time to redouble our efforts.
The Three Gorges dam is a project in trouble. Residents of the Yangtze River valley, misled to believe that the dam will protect them from killer floods, need to know the truth. Energy policymakers need to know that Three Gorges power will cost the Chinese economy dearly. Jailed critics need to be freed. People displaced by the dam and swindled out of their compensation by crooked bureaucrats need justice. Only by reporting the abuses, broadcasting the environmental warning signs, and alerting investors to the demise of the Three Gorges dam, will authorities be convinced to scale back, to stop, even to dismantle the dam if it is finished.
"A government that respects democracy will never be allowed to start the [Three Gorges] dam project that will cause grave harm to the country and the people."
– Huang Wanli 1911-2001
Professor Huang, one of China’s foremost hydrologists, opposed China’s ill-fated dams, including Three Gorges. In the 1950s he paid dearly for speaking his mind: He was persecuted, prohibited from teaching, and forced to work as a dam labourer. Finally, in 1998, at the age of 87, Professor Huang was allowed to resume his beloved teaching. He died three years later.
Categories: Three Gorges Probe