Three Gorges Probe

Dam completion washes away old China

(May 21, 2006) The Sunday Times reports on protests against resettlement policies in China, where 1.3 million people were pushed off their land to make way for the Three Gorges Dam.

The builders say the dam will end the annual floods that, since time immemorial, have killed untold numbers of Chinese in the valley of the Yangtze, the nation’s longest river.

The propaganda department proclaimed it a triumph of the will. But this was a triumph in which the willpower of the state knew no scruples.

The workers’ accidental deaths were admitted by the media for the first time as it celebrated the moment when engineers cemented the last section in place.

Yesterday’s reports also acknowledged that 1.3m people lost their ancestral homes — many thrown out in angry despair as demolition squads wrecked the buildings before their eyes. As the dam rose, so did the waters behind it, leaving them no choice but to go.

Along the waterway there are stories at every landing stage of official corruption, of compensation denied, of property deeds stolen, of thugs smashing up houses, of false promises of new homes and of the ever-ready batons and bullets of the security forces.

Read the full story here.

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