(March 31, 2011) Thousands of Chinese residents displaced by the Xiangjiaba hydrodam protest China’s resettlement policies.
At least 2,000 migrants displaced by the Xiangjiaba dam on the upper Yangtze River took to the streets last Friday to protest the government’s resettlement policy, resulting in a clash between police and protesters. According to the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, up to 50 people have been injured.
The Chinese government dispatched 1,500 riot police to disperse the protesters, who had been blocking a main road and bridge over the Yangtze River for four days. The protesters hurled bricks and rocks at the heavily armed police. The protesters were driven away Tuesday, when police called in armoured personnel carriers to put down the riots.
This is not the first time that migrants have protested the dam, located in the south-west Chinese province of Yunnan. Last June, prior to the relocation, a demonstration was held at the head office of the project, where dozens of protesters were injured by riot police.
At issue is the inadequate provisions made by the government for the roughly 100,000 villagers displaced by the dam. Low compensation and poor housing are among the chief complaints, though villagers are also upset that the government is only paying 1/5th of the cost of relocating a local graveyard, which will be flooded by the dam.
The catalyst for this most recent protest appears to have been the 6.8 magnitude earthquake in nearby Myanmar (Burma), and another recent earthquake in Yunnan which was felt by the migrants. They fear that their new homes, built in a seismic zone, may fare as poorly as the shoddily built “tofu” schools that collapsed in the deadly 2008 earthquake in neighbouring Sichuan province, killing an estimated 7,000 school children.
The $11.5 billion Xiangjiaba dam is one of a dozen hydropower projects being built by the Three Gorges Corporation on the Jinsha River. The Xiangjiaba dam will be the fourth largest in China when it is completed next year.
Steve Lafleur is a Research Associate with Probe International.
To see the location of the Xiangjiaba Dam, click here