Environmentalists celebrate as Beijing appears to abandon plans to build mega dams on its Grand Canyon of the East. Although dam-building isn’t off the table in other parts of China, activists say Beijing is deterred in this case by growing concern for the environment, the wisdom of dam construction in areas of high seismicity and – most importantly – the economics of large-scale dams that no longer make financial sense in a slowing Chinese economy, in combination with the scale of difficulty in transmitting electricity from remote regions to the rest of the country.
(March 4, 2013) In a throwback to Maoist propaganda, a member of China’s National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference has promised that building a rash of dams on China’s Nu River will cure all ills, and bring harmonious development, and leap-forward development to boot. In reality, scientists worry that the dams will trigger earthquakes and landslides and be unable to operate at full capacity for lack of water. Downstream countries are also worried about the loss of natural river flow on which their economies depend.
(February 14, 2013) A dramatic push by China’s new leadership to revive a political passion for large dam projects has ignited concerns for neighbouring countries and environmentalists.
(January 25, 2013) Environmental NGO International Rivers reports on Beijing’s move to lift a moratorium on damming China’s Nu River despite “well-documented seismic hazards, ecological and social risks”.
(January 25, 2013) A revival of plans by Beijing to embrace mega dams and the mega risks associated with them has left Chinese environmentalists reeling.
(November 21, 2012) As populist Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao prepares to retire, China’s new leadership is already looking at an aggressive plan to ramp up hydro capacity, as part of its ambitious 2020 energy goals. Under Wen, whose common touch earned him the nickname ‘Grandpa Wen’, a number of projects were shelved, including a series of dams on Yunnan’s untouched, UNESCO-protected Nu River – this is now slated for construction. The following Reuters report, by David Stanway, looks at the prospect of a renewed dam push in a country already struck by development fever. A tough sell, he notes, as an increasingly affluent middle-class – also the drivers of China’s consumption boom – push back against China’s “growth at all costs” economic model.
(April 26, 2011) The damming of every major river flowing from the Tibetan plateau will trigger natural disasters, degrade fragile ecologies and divert vital water supplies.
(April 18, 2011) Chinese geologists warn that hydropower development on the Nu River will pose grave risks to those living downstream.
(March 24, 2011) China Dialogue recently ran this article arguing that damming the Nu could have earth shattering consequences.
(March 8, 2011) In an apparent contradiction of national policy, General Secretary of Yunnan’s provincial Communist Party claims that the Nu River will not be dammed without further research. Is a schism emerging between the provincial and Central Party officials over the controversial dams?
(February 10, 2011) Meng Si of China Dialogue wrote in today’s Guardian that damming the Nu River in an attempt to reduce emissions will devastate the local environment. Below is an excerpt, and link to the full story.
(February 3, 2011) The Government of China is using international pressure to reduce carbon emissions as a pretense to build a series of controversial power stations on the pristine Nu River—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—despite opposition from environmentalists and human rights advocates.
(March 6, 2007) The Nu River runs through southwest China’s Yunnan province — and the Three Parallel Rivers National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site — before flowing downstream to Burma and Thailand, where it is known as the Salween. It is Southeast Asia’s last major free-flowing river, but plans are under way to dam it in both China and Burma.
(February 28, 2007) The proposed construction of a dam and hydroelectric plant on southwest China’s Nu River has sparked one of the country’s most heated environmental debates.
(October 26, 2006) China’s minister of water resources has poured cold water on the plan to build 13 dams on the Nu River in the southwest of the country, calling the proposal a form of "predatory development."