(September 21, 2011) Around 1.5 million people were moved to make way for the Three Gorges Dam: some were wooed by promises of new homes, land, and better lives, and others were forced. Ten years on, Kathleen E. McLaughlin writing in the GlobalPost investigates the results of the relocation. Many migrants languish hundreds of miles from their hometowns, without farmland or new jobs, facing mounting debt and with little chance of legal redress.
Read an excerpt below, followed by a link to the full article.
August 29, 2011
Kathleen E. McLaughlin
CHONGQING, China — When China launches ambitious projects to conquer nature and astound the world, people always get in the way.
Sometimes it’s a few dozen people; often it’s thousands or even millions.
In the country’s headlong drive toward development, moving large numbers of people quickly and often painfully goes hand in hand with building the world’s biggest dam, the longest stretch of high-speed rail, even re-shaping whole cities.
In the best-case situations, those who get moved end up with nicer homes, indoor plumbing, access to services and cleaner living conditions. The dark side is that frequently the relocated become internal migrants mired in debt, without farmland or income.
“Eventually, every forced migrant in China becomes a refugee,” said Chen Zongshun, author of an investigative book about the 1.5 million people relocated for the world’s biggest hydropower project, the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River.
A study this spring says demolition and forced relocation are the biggest flashpoints for social unrest in China, even more than toxic pollution or labor issues. With an estimated more than 180,000 protests per year in China, that’s certainly not lost on a government that now spends more on domestic security than its military budget.
Perhaps this level of unrest shouldn’t be a surprise when one considers just how many people have been moved, and lost farms and families in the process, with little or no recourse. Thousands of them flock to Beijing every year, seeking redress for lost homes and farmland, often forced back to the provinces with nothing, or having spent a few days in jail. Even those thousands displaced for the destruction of old parts of Beijing had troubles.
Categories: Three Gorges Probe