(February 21, 2000) China’s State Auditing Administration has revealed that local officials have embezzled about $57.7 million (all figures in U.S. dollars) in Three Gorges resettlement funds. This graft represents almost 12 percent of the total $487.8 million that the central government has allocated for relocating the 1.2 million people who will be flooded out of the Three Gorges area if dam construction continues as planned.
The January 29 edition of the Hong Kong-based newspaper, Ta Kung Pao, revealed disturbing details from the auditor’s report:
Huang Faxiang, head of the Fengdu County land office, Chongqing City, transferred $3.2 million intended for land compensation into other accounts, from which he pocketed $1.9 million. Another official in the same office, Chen Lanzhi, embezzled $609,756 to speculate on stocks. And the office accountant, Jiang Haiying, transferred $24,390 into his personal account. Instead of compensating resettlers, officials in Taiping Xi Township, Yichang County, misappropriated about $862,000 from the resettlement fund to build office buildings, residential quarters, and hotels for their own benefit. Resettlement officials in Fuling District, Chongqing City, used $412,804 from the resettlement fund to set up a company for their own benefit. Instead of using $43,915 to relocate schools, Zigui County’s education office built office and residential buildings for the benefit of its own officials. A bankrupt fertilizer factory in Badong County, which received $4.1 million from the central government for relocating its operations, used $3.1 million of this amount for paying its debts and workers’ salaries. The factory then suspended its relocation due to a lack of funds. Eighteen counties and townships illegally leased a total of 3,700 mu (246.6 hectares) to organizations not associated with resettlement.
According to the Ta Kung Pao article, 14 officials have been charged.
Despite these embezzlement scandals, resettlement is proceeding smoothly, according to Qi Lin, head of the State Council’s Three Gorges Project Construction Committee Resettlement Bureau.
On January 29, the Singapore-based newspaper, Lianhe Zaobao, quoted Qi as saying that 190,000 people had been resettled in the Three Gorges area as of November 1999, and that the government is now prepared to move another 80,000 people.
According to Qi, the total number of people to be displaced by the Three Gorges dam by 2009, will be 1.13 million. Qi also reported that a total of 417 factories along the Yangtze had either been shut down or moved.
China’s auditing administration has been uncovering embezzlement scandals connected with the Three Gorges dam since Premier Zhu Rongji replaced Li Peng as head of the Three Gorges Project Development Corporation in 1998 and vowed to crack down on corrupt officials.
Three Gorges Probe welcomes submissions. However, it is not a forum for political debate. Rather, Three Gorges Probe is dedicated to covering the scientific, technical, economic, social, and environmental ramifications of completing the Three Gorges Project, as well as the alternatives to the dam.
Publisher: Patricia Adams, Executive Editor: Mu Lan ISSN 1481-0913, February 21, 2000
Categories: Three Gorges Probe