Oral Histories

Absence of Justice

Lu Chengming’s story about his struggle for fair compensation after his was forcefully evicted from his home for the construction of the Three Gorges dam…Read the full oral history here.

Bright Sun City’s Dark Intent

Since 1993, a year after the Three Gorges dam was approved by the National People’s Congress, two kinds of population resettlement in the Three Gorges area were officially sanctioned. Either the local government could take responsibility for relocating people in nearby areas, on higher slopes or “in areas that needed to be developed,” under a policy known as “resettlement with development,” or individuals destined to be displaced by the dam could arrange their own resettlement, outside of the reservoir area, known as “relocating oneself.” Under the former, people would move according to an integrated, government-organized plan; under the latter, people would use their own connections and seek help or receive invitations from friends and relatives in other areas to leave and settle somewhere else. By 2000, when the government announced that 1.35 million people would have to move to make way for the Three Gorges dam, as many as 200,000 people had “relocated themselves” to Hainan Island, Guangdong Province, Hubei Province, Shanghai, and other such places, including Bright Sun City (Dangyang) in Hubei, where this story takes place…Read the full oral history here.

Lost Lives: The Plight of the Migrants

The Three Gorges Project approved by the National Peoples’ Congress in 1992 included a policy to settle all affected people on higher ground in the area nearby. These people were categorized as those resettling locally, and included those who resettled higher up on the slopes above the Yangtze, those who relocated to work for a local enterprise, and those who looked for friends and relatives nearby who they could move in with…Read the full oral history here.

The Wushan Governor’s Murder

On the evening of September 22, 1998, the Governor of Wushan County, Cai Jun, was shot and killed in his own home in an attack by an assailant carrying a gun. His wife and their baby weren’t injured, and nothing was taken…Read the full oral history here.

The Yangtze River Tow Men

An English merchant by the name of A. J. Little who spent a month and a half travelling by wooden sailing boat in the Three Gorges from Hankou to Chongqing in the spring of 1883 recorded this description in his book “Sailing the Three Gorges:”

A large sailing vessel of 150 tons would have over 100 sailors, 70 to 80 of whom were tow men. Their movements were coordinated by the beating of a drum, and the drummer in turn was directed by the helmsman. Between 12 and 20 men stayed on board. They had barge poles, which they used to fend the boat off from rocks or large boulders when it was in danger of crashing into them. At the same time they operated the huge oar made from an entire cedar tree at the prow of the boat…Read the full oral history here.