A worker clears floating garbage on the Yangtze River near the Three Gorges Dam in Yichang, Hubei province on August 1, 2010. (China Daily Information Group/Courtesy Reuters)
It has only taken ninety years, but China’s leaders have finally admitted that the Three Gorges Dam is a disaster. With Wen Jiabao at the helm, the State Council noted last week that there were “urgent problems” concerning the relocation effort, the environment and disaster prevention that would now require an infusion of US$23 billion on top of the $45 billion spent already.
Despite high-level support for the project since Sun Yat-sen first proposed it in 1919, the dam has had serious critics within China all along. One of China’s earliest and most renowned environmental activists, Dai Qing, published the book Yangtze! Yangtze! in 1989, which explored the engineering and social costs of the proposed dam. The book was a hit among Tiananmen Square protestors, and Dai spent a year in prison for her truth-telling. In 1992, when the dam came up for a vote in the National People’s Congress, an unprecedented one-third of the delegates voted against the plan.
Once the construction began in 1994, the problems mounted. Read more »