(April 21, 2011) Chinese hydrologist Lu Qinkan passed away April 11 in Beijing at the age of 97. Lu was known to the west as one of the most vocal critics of the Three Gorges Dam.
A small funeral was held on April 15th to commemorate the remarkable life of a 97 year old man, who died in relative obscurity. Professor Lu Qinkan, an American-trained Chinese hydrologist, dedicated his life to public service. Since Lu was not in favour with the regime, he didn’t receive so much as an official obituary.
Upon graduation in 1949, Lu began working in the field of water resources and hydro-electric planning. He eventually became the deputy chief engineer in the Ministry of Water Resources and Electric Power. Lu rose to international prominence in 1988, when he and nine other experts refused to sign off on the government’s plans for the Three Gorges Dam Project. The next year, Lu contributed a chapter on the design flaws of the project to the book Yangtze! Yangtze!, published by Dai Qing, one of China’s most famous journalists. Dai Qing was subsequently jailed and the book was banned. In March of 2000, Lu made worldwide news by drafting a petition signed by dozens of other scientists against filling the Three Gorges reservoir to 175 metres above sea level. Lu remained a public critic of the project until his death.
Among those in attendance to honour Lu was Guo Yushan, director of the Transition Institute in Beijing. He praised Lu for having “dedicated all his life to the livelihoods of the people affected by the Three Gorges Dam.” Upon hearing news of Lu’s death, Probe International executive director, Patricia Adams, sent the following message to his family:
“Professor Lu will be remembered in the history books as a man who used his great intellect honestly and bravely. He made noble contributions to his country and will be honoured for a life very well lived.”
Articles by or about Lu Qinkan