See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

China: Three Gorges Dam, A Time To Reflect

At a State Council steering committee meeting on May 18, 2011, a statement was issued acknowledging serious flaws in the Three Gorges Dam project.

Through 17 years of construction until its completion in October 2008, China lauded the project as one of the engineering marvels of the world. The dam raised water to 172.5m above sea level by the end of 2008 and necessitated the relocation of 1.4 million people.

According to local reports, the State Council has admitted a number of negative impacts of the project, including on the livelihoods of those who were displaced, ecological and geological issues, the impact on river transportion, devastation wrought by drought and flooding in downstream provinces.

Three Gorges Dam, Yichang. Image taken from Flickr user: DigitalGlobe-Imagery under CC license BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Three Gorges Dam, Yichang. Image taken from Flickr user: DigitalGlobe-Imagery under CC license BY-NC-ND 2.0.

The Three Gorges Dam and water resources

Recently, provinces downstream from the dam on the Yangtze River, such as Hubei and Jiangxi, have been hit by severe drought which affects a population of more than a million and millions hectares of farmland. Moreover, the water level of China's largest freshwater lake, Poyang Lake, has dropped to the lowest point in its recorded history. Freshwater Finless Porpoises which inhabit the Yangtze River are now on the verge of extinction. Much online public opinion has begun to see a connection between the Three Gorges Dam Project and the ecological disasters such as earthquakes, landslides, flooding and droughts which have occurred over the past several years.

Below is a selection of Sina Weibo comments [zh] from a thread on news of the drought in Hubei and Jiangxi provinces:

这就是伟大的山峡工程的巨大作用:珍稀鱼类无路可走而灭绝,上游泥沙堆积导致航道堵塞,大坝蓄水导致下游湖泊消失,环境巨变导致气候异常,还能发生些什么?这些仅仅是个开始??? 当我们在为人类伟大的创造力而自豪的时候是不是该尊重下自然?不要因为部分人所谓的伟大理想而荼毒子孙!

千湖之省啊,如今也如此,不敬畏自然,不敬畏天地,GDP当先,最终毁掉一切,我的孩子,我们留给你的是一个怎样的未来?!

这就说明民主的重要性了。当修水坝成为国家意志和地方政府意志,而真正的专家、广大民众却无法参与到决策的时候,灾难的发生是长久和不可愈合的

中国淡水资源及其缺乏,如果连南方都出现严重旱灾,南水怎能北调?北京是缺水的地方,不管盖多少房子把房价炒得多高,一旦缺水,人的生活就变成梦魇。

-This is the function of our grand Three Gorges Dam Project: the most precious fish species have come to extinction. The upstream river is blocked by sediment buildup which affects river transportation. The dam has stopped water flow and led to the disappearance of downstream lakes. The environmental changes have affected the weather… what else we will be confronting? Is this only the beginning [of further disasters]?? At the same time that we feel proud of humanity's power, have we shown respect to nature? Do not harm our offspring just for some people's dream of the ideal!

-A province with more than a thousand lakes has ended up in drought. We have lost our respect for nature, for our mother earth, in order to chase after GDP. Eventually, we will lose everything. Children, what kind of future we have left for you?

-This explains why democracy is so important. When the dam project was turned into the will of the nation and local governments, the real experts and ordinary people could not get involved in the decision-making process; the disasters will be eternal and cannot be fixed.

-China has a very serious fresh water shortage problem. Now that serious drought is occurring in the south, how can we channel water to the north? Beijing has a water shortage problem, no matter how high the property market is there. Without water, people's daily lives will become a nightmare.

A satire on the world's greatest dam

Prominent writer and blogger Han Han has responded to the issue with his satirical style—by arguing that the Three Gorges Dam is the greatest in the world:

反对派认为,三峡大坝建成以后,上下游的生态会失衡,我认为在三峡大坝建成以前,生态已经失衡了,所以这个反对意见不成立。

反对派认为,三峡大坝建成以后,成为一个重大的显眼的军事目标,一旦敌人对三峡大坝实施打击,能源供应和下游人民都会遭殃。我认为这个问题我们已经解决的非常圆满,我们在下游的城市里布置了大量类似富士康之类的企业,一旦三峡决堤,城市被淹,全世界都将无法享用到中国廉价劳动力带来的恩惠,最关键的是,美帝将无法生产苹果手机,光这一点,外敌就不敢对三峡大坝发动攻击。

反对派认为,三峡大坝建成以后,将引发地震。首先这些都是推论,无法证实,其次退一万步来说,就算汶川地震都是由三峡大坝引起的,我们看汶川地震三周年,晚会都叫中国奇迹,而地震对我们来说不存在反思,全是各种伟大的胜利。把逻辑关系捋顺了以后就可以总结出:三峡大坝引发中国奇迹,完成伟大胜利,天底下还有比这更好的事么?

反对派认为,三峡大坝建成以后,会引发旱灾。今年,中国最大的淡水湖鄱阳湖的水面只有往年的十分之一,很多人对此颇为担忧,觉得江西省政府一定很头疼。其实你们不懂,地方财政主要依靠土地买卖,湖面又不能卖,所以我觉得江西省应该把握机会,在鄱阳湖的湖口修建一个大坝,连那十分之一的水都不要剩下,这样,江西政府将瞬间多出几万平方公里的土地可供买卖,而卖点自然是鄱阳湖的遗址,平原上的盆地,万水之源,聚宝之盆,开启您的财富生活。再请一个当年力保三峡工程的老人,在鄱阳湖遗址上画一个圈,建立一个经济特区,那又是一段佳话,而且对内陆经济的推动绝对是不可估量。

有些人利用三峡大坝攻击一些领导人,说他们的想法是“我死后,哪怕他洪水滔天”,我想告诉这些别有用心的人,领导们恰恰和你们想的相反,领导就是因为害怕死后洪水滔天,所以才力主修建了三峡大坝,这样他死后,最多上游滔天。只要下游不滔天,虾米总是有得吃。所以,这一条也是站不住脚的。

Those in opposition said: the Three Gorges Dam will affect the upstream and downstream ecology. My argument is, even before the project has completed, the ecology has lost its balance. They have missed the point.

Those in opposition said: the Three Gorges Dam will be a target for military attack. Once the enemy forces hit the dam, electricity will be disrupted and people downstream will face great disaster. I think we have solved the problem: we have already placed global corporations such as FoxConn in the downstream cities. If the dam leaks and drowns the cities, the world would no long enjoy China's cheap labour. Most important of all, the U.S could not produce more iPhones. In consideration of that, enemy forces will not attack the Three Gorges Dam.

Those in opposition said: the Three Gorges Dam will cause an earthquake. This is pure speculation and cannot be proven. Even if the Wenchuan earthquake was caused by the Three Gorges Dam, on the third anniversary of the Wenchuan earthquake, the grand TV show called it a China miracle. There is nothing for us to reflect upon. The earthquake shows that we have had a great victory. If we follow this logic, we can conclude that the Three Gorges Dam will bring more miracles and victory to China. Who else in the world can compete for such glory?

Those in opposition said: the Three Gorges Dam will lead to drought. This year, the water surface of Poyang Lake, the greatest fresh water body in China, has been reduced to one-tenth of its volume in an average year, and many people are very worried about this. They think the Jiangxi government will have a headache over this. Actually, you are too ignorant. The financial income of local landlords is based on the selling of land. Water surface cannot be sold. The Jiangxi government should take the opportunity to build a dam in the water entrance and drain away all the water. Then the Jiangxi government will suddenly have an extra few thousands square kilometers of land for sale. They even have a selling point: the relic of Poyang, the source of water in the vast base land area, a treasure holding bowl for the beginning of your wealthy life. They can also invite the old man who pushed through the Three Gorges Dam project to draw a circle in the Poyang relic and build a special economic zone there. This will be another legendary move for promoting economic development in the central China region.

Some people used the Three Gorges Dam to attack our leaders, putting words into their mouth such as, “I won't see any floods after I pass away.” I want to tell all these ill-hearted people that they are completely wrong. The leaders are concerned about flooding after they die. That's why they build the dam. After they die, only the upstream will be flooded while the downstream won't. They still have many shrimp to eat. Hence, this argument cannot stand. [Translation note: the meaning of flood means opportunity to make money. Water is related with money in daily usage…]

Environmental problem turns into conspiracy theory

The Chinese Community Supporters from the Maoist Utopia website, however, believe that the discussion about the Three Gorges Dam is another plot hatched by the right wing to discredit the older generation of leaders:

别说三峡大坝的功过利害尚且需要论证和讨论,即使真的弊大于利,真的需要拆毁拆除,它也不能用来作为党争的工具和筹码,它也不能用来否定江泽民等上一代中央领导集体!只有那些争权夺利为了显摆一己之能的奴才们,才会拿着历史人物的错误去否定历史人物,他们永远不会从历史人物的错误吸取教训而反过来敬重历史人物。

中华民族正在进行一场前所未有的伟大而又艰难的转型,这个过程中,中央高层内部的党争也就会日益激烈,但越是在这个时候,我们越是要睁大眼睛,那些看上去毫无瑕疵、毫无争议甚至是誉满全球的人往往是大奸若忠之徒,而真正的英雄则诽谤缠身,因为真正的英雄,从来不是为了喝彩的掌声而活,只有那些别有用心的政客们才会为了所谓的支持率而操控媒体去沽名钓誉!

三峡大坝是社会主义集中力量办大事的一个杰出典范,是孙中山、毛泽东、邓小平、江泽民等老一代革命家振兴中华实现民族复兴的伟大构想,它绝不等同于那些官僚们的形象工程,而是功在当代利在千秋的伟业,因此,任何只看其害而不看其利的思想都应该遭到严厉的批判。

我们应该警惕,那一小撮正在掌权而又不甘心看到自己失势的自由派精英们正在拿着三峡大坝反过来砸向社会主义、砸向老一代中央领导集体,让我们联合起来,一起戳穿并识破他们这一不可告人的阴谋!

Let's leave aside the discussion about the pros and cons of the Three Gorges Dam for a moment. Even if it had more defects than achievements, such that we had to demolish it, we could not turn the issue into a political struggle and denounce the older generation central government collectives led by Jiang Zemin. Only running dogs thirsty for power and their own interests would use history to denounce a historical figure. They don't know how to learn from history and show respect from historical figures.

The Chinese nation is now in a difficult period of transformation. In this process, power struggles within the party will escalate. In this historical moment, we have to open our eyes and see that the villains are now seemingly flawless, uncontroversial and globally famous people, while the true heroes suffer defamation. Real heroes would not talk just to receive applause and cheers; only politicians with a hidden agenda would build their fame by getting people's support and through controlling the media.

The Three Gorges Dam is an excellent example of socialist collectivism. The idea comes from older generation revolutionists—Sun Yat-sen, Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin—who devoted their lives to the revival of the Chinese nation. It cannot be compared with image engineering projects carried out by bureaucrats. It is a contemporary achievement that will change Chinese history. Therefore, we should condemn and criticize comments that merely stress the negative side of the project.

We should be aware that a minority of liberal elites, who are now in power but see themselves losing their position, are trying to use the Three Gorges Dam Project to badmouth socialism and the older generation of leaders. We have to unite and unveil their secret plot.

2 comments

  • Pingback: Anonymous

    […] […]

  • Mitiouto

    After the dam is filled the water over the dam is no different than before the dam is built. Am I wrong?
    So, what does the dam have to do with drought below its reservoir? How would this affect the general weather? Perhaps it can affect aquatic life below its great wall, but only if the life would be affected anyway. One should understand the concept of the dam. After the reservoir is filled to its design level and water is allowed to pass through the spillways, the water through the dam is at its normal flow.
    S.

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site