Category: Dams and Landslides

China’s great leap backward

(September 21, 1998) The tragedy of the Three Gorges dam goes beyond the nearly two million people who will be resettled from their homes, villages, farms, temples, and work places to make way for it, beyond the 1,300 sites of cultural antiquities and the 100,000 hectares of precious farmland that will be submerged forever under the 600 kilometre long reservoir, and beyond the rare species that it will likely render extinct. Ironically, the tragedy created by the Three Gorges will also extend to the economy and its electricity sector – the chief justification for building the dam.

Chapter 28


Though 70 years old, Qian Zhengying distinguishes herself as the leader of the pro-dam faction for the Three Gorges project. But even this may not adequately describe her role. For the past few decades, she has been the key leader in mainland China’s water-engineering programs.

Chapter 25

(May 31, 1994) HIGH DAM: THE SWORD OF DAMOCLES by Yang Lang

On December 22, 1988, then U.S. president Ronald Reagan issued a televised threat against a Libyan chemical plant in the depths of the North African desert. The attack did not take place, but the impact was far-reaching.

Chapter 23

(May 31, 1994) TEN CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES ON THE THREE GORGES PROJECT: An Account of an Interview with Tian Fang and Lin Fatang by Lu Qinkan

Opinions differ both at home and abroad over whether to construct the Three Gorges project. The main points of view in support of and in opposition to the project will now be summarized.

Chapter 22

(May 31, 1994) INTERNATIONAL OPPOSITION TO THE THREE GORGES PROJECT: An Account of an Interview with Tian Fang and Lin Fatang by Zhang Shengyou

The Three Gorges dam will be the largest hydro-electric project the world has ever seen. As soon as the project was announced publicly, there was an enormous response from overseas.

Chapter 19

(May 31, 1994) THE THREE GORGES PROJECT: AN ENORMOUS ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER: An Interview with Hou Xueyu by Zhu Jianhong

Zhu Jianhong: Is it true that you didn’t sign the assessment report concerned with the environmental aspects of the Three Gorges project?

Chapter 11

(May 31, 1994) AN INTERVIEW WITH LI RUI by Dai Qing

Dai Qing: On November 30, 1988, the assessment by the leading group of the Three Gorges project, which had lasted for 2 1/2; years, proposed “starting the construction early.” For the sixth time in more than 30 years, this has moved the project forward on the national economic agenda, which has inevitably drawn the concern of citizens who will assess the project through its impact on their shopping bag. From the very beginning, you have been involved in the debate over the project, and have already participated in decision making at the highest level. In fact, half of your career has been concerned with the fate of the Three Gorges. Could you tell us under what circumstances the proposal for this grand project was put forward?

Chapter 5


Written Statement Submitted to the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party by Ten Members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference88

by Sun Yueqi, Lin Hua, Wang Xingrang, Xu Guangyi, Qiao Peixin, Chen Mingshao, Luo Xibei, Yan Xinghua, Zhao Weigang, Lu Qinkan

Planning for Disaster: China’s Three Gorges Dam

(September 19, 1993) ON THE NIGHT OF AUGUST 27, 1993, a dam burst high in a remote western province of China, sending torrents of water crashing down on nearby villages, killing more than 200 people, and rendering thousands more homeless. Though no official reason has been given for this latest human-made disaster in a country plagued by them, one government spokesperson admitted that a destructive earthquake which hit the region of the Gouhou dam in 1990 "may have had some effect" in causing the dam to collapse under this year’s flood waters.