Three Gorges Dam In Yangzi river building




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The plans by China to ensure that the Yangzi River has the Three Gorges Dam were a step towards modernization. In this scenario, money does not have any importance as the costs for this project are beyond words. Furthermore, there is a risk that the dam can be affected by natural and human phenomena. The latter includes; earthquakes and warfare, among others. Many people living within the reservoirs vicinity have had to be resettled elsewhere. Farmers were the ones who were affected most by the Three Gorges Dam project[1]. This means that the land, which surrounds the dam, is viewed by the Chinese government as an obstacle towards achieving its dreams. Since most of the minority groups have been resettled in border areas, their lives have been significantly disrupted. Chinese cultural landmarks have been sacrificed due to the existence of the reservoir.

This paper seeks to give an analysis on the ‘Three Gorges Dam’ and how it has affected the relationship between the people of China and the state.

Analysis of the ‘Three Gorges Dam’ and its impact among the Chinese people and the state

The ‘Tropical Forest Action Group’ is a coalition made up of a number of environmental organizations. In the year 1986, they published ‘Tropical Forests and the World Bank’ a pamphlet that affected China. According to the pamphlet, the Three Gorges Dam is a megaproject that is conceived. This is because three million people would be displaced as well as be dislocated. Animals found in the Yangzi such as Dolphins and Sturgeons would not be spared either. They would flow downstream and the result would be disastrous to many people. For example, agriculture would be affected as valuable nutrients and silts would be deprived. Also, the Shangui estuary was threatened by the high levels of salinization. Moreover, 640 km of the Chinese coastline would be eroded.

In a bid to achieve modernization, the construction of the Three Gorges Dam had tremendous effects on China as a whole. Since the reservoir area was flooded, resettlement of people was a huge concern. Various agents of the government made attempts to ensure that the project became realized[2]. Furthermore, Chinese people provided information concerning the number of people to be displaced. Also, the figure given by the government of China was less than that provided by the World Bank and the TFAGC. According to officials in the Chinese government, urban dwellers and farmer who totaled 330000 were to be displaced. Farmers were the ones who were affected most by this displacement. Most of the farmland in china was already occupied, thus making the farmers lives even more miserable[3]. Urban dwellers were fortunate as they easily settled in other urban areas, as well as in cities. More Chinese cities were built due to the displacement of people. This is an added advantage to the government of China as it meant that china was developing even more.

Most of the people who lived within the vicinity of the reservoir were illegal residents and the figure was at 30%. Despite there being laws that banned such movements, these people were defiant and proceeded with moving to the farmlands. The government decided that it would be fair punishment if they did not give them assistance and housing upon relocating. It did not want to reward people who were defiant and had performed illegal acts. Chinese factories benefited from the displacement of people as they obtained more workers. It was likely that some cultures would be eroded and an example is the Han culture and race. They moved to the western part of China and some found their way into the Soviet Union. The region is known to be semi-arid and is extremely different from what they were used to back at home.

There were plans to ensure that the border areas could effectively accommodate the displaced people. This took the form of settlement projects that the Chinese government set out to achieve. It was a known fact that during the 1980s, for every 120 people per square kilometer, the altitude levels were 2000m. This means that the number of Chinese people in the rural population was at 78 people for every square kilometer. Natural habitats were not spared either by the construction of the Three Gorges Dam[4]. The area had extensive rocky cliffs that sometimes made it difficult to farm. Other people have referred to the land as being bare and similar to a monks head. The paper mills took advantage and did away with all the bamboo that existed. Some of plant species of an endemic nature were to be cleared, as part of the plans to have the Three Gorges Dam constructed.

Lastly, cultural landmarks such as the Wu Xia and the Qutang were to be flooded as a result of the construction of The three Gorges Dam. Archeological sites, which had existed for a long time, were not to be spared. This meant that scholars would have to stop progressing with their research. The remains that were in the land would have to be forgotten once construction began. The Chinese government was aware about the impact that the construction of the dam would have on the fish. It had proposed to find a way to ensure that they fish would find suitable waters so that they do not die. Furthermore, it sorts to ensure that the environmental impacts of building the reservoir were reduced.

The Resources Protection Bureau of the Yangzi Water did an assessment of the project to know about the environmental impacts that existed. The latter is an agency that woks in hand with the government of China. In order to achieve modernization, the dam would provide the needed energy needed for the benefit of China. Also, the government wanted to find out the benefits and the impacts that arose from the construction of the dam. In order for benefits to be known they must be accessed via the existing impact and risk. The latter is known as a general rule for obtaining information regarding modernization.

As the years progressed, reservoir siltation and erosion will take place at extremely high rates. The result is that the storage volumes will be reduced drastically, and this will be an effect that is long term. There will be periods where there will be low water, and sediment load will be reduced. The dam will ensure that the human structures and natural habitats are eroded downstream[5]. The Chinese government wanted to control the problem of flooding that had affected the area for a long time. This is the reason why it came up with plans to construct the Three Gorges Dam. The other alternatives it had concerning this matter was to build dams that were small in the tributaries located on the upper side. Also, it could ensure that the watershed was reclaimed through forestation. Moreover, areas that were dangerously exposed could be maintained through controlling the movement of people. The latter was to take place at the areas of the lower and middle Yangzi. The small dams were to be sources for the production of electricity. They would provide cheap electricity needed by the Chinese people as well as the many industries. The Chinese government had many plans of becoming modernized like the rest of the developed world. In order to increase the country’s power supply in terms of per capita, it had to find ways to control its population and to conserve energy. It seems that preserving the Chinese environment was not a consideration during the decision making process. Before the dam construction began, the infrastructure surrounding it had to be in perfect condition. The impact that the dam would bring about would be more than the expected benefits. The dam would be strategically placed and be placed above china’s cities as it was as high as 180m. The problem of dealing with resettlement is short term and can easily be solved.

The rate of change in China has for a long time been uneven and rapid. This started in the 1970’s when the Maoist regime wanted to come up with economic reforms that would bring about the development of China. The latter wanted to be free from the legacy of the Maoist regime[6]. Also, china wanted to be part of the international system that existed during that time. There need to build the three gorges dam was in line with the Maoist policies, which advocated for modernization. Attempt ewer made by the Chinese government to become modernized without having to be westernized. The process of modernization required that the only specialist would be involved in projects that would benefit the country. Some of the reforms introduced by the Maoist regime were to improve various sectors in the government. In turn, the landscape of China was affected by such reforms.

In the year 1989, resistance to the Maoist ideas of modernization took place and it involved many people. The latter included; students, reformists and conservatives. In turn, conflicts arose and the fault lines that existed were divided. The massacre known as Tiananmen is an example of how those opposed to the Maoists were affected. The state did not give audience to its people and those who did not head were eliminated. Uprisings in China were a common phenomena but the result was that people were killed. Furthermore, the ideas of modernization were influenced by the ‘Fifth Modernization’ a poster of the year 1979 by Wei Jingsheng.

From the evidence that has been provided, it seems that the Chinese government dictated what people ought to do. The relation which existed between Chinese people and the state was not a happy one. The government had the intentions of making china a modernized country, through any possible means. In the end, the people of china were the ones who benefited from the construction of the three Gorges Dam. Some of the benefits include; flooding was no longer a problem and the supply of electricity became constant[7]. Farmers benefited as well as they easily irrigated their land as water was available and easily accessed. In the past, floods were known to take the lives of many Chinese people. In the 1980’s over 300,000 people have been killed by floods in the country. In turn, Chinese planners can control drought and rainfall as they have the means of controlling water release and storage.

Leaders who were present during that Post Mao era have had a tough time trying to ensure that china realized its dream of modernization. It is through coming up with policies that reforms took place in the country. In turn, the macroeconomic performance of china improved as well as their standards of living[8]. The Gross Domestic Product of China grew tremendously and agriculture is a source of the success. The three Gorges Dam assisted many farmers as they had a constant supply of water and floods did not occur. The Chinese society was indirectly and directly affected by the economic reforms of the 1980’s. The relations which existed between the state and the society were strengthened. As a result of a developed economy, the social and political environment improved as well. The reforms were successful because a stable environment existed in china. Furthermore, policy makers achieved the goals they had set as structures favored their implementation.

Before china came up with its reforms the relations between the people and the state were not healthy. The state dominated the society as people had no voice in any matter that affected them. The life of the people of china was controlled by the communist party that took over power. It controlled various aspects of the lives of the Chinese people. The government had set its own ideological, political, and administrative policies[9]. The polices affected people who resided in the rural and urban areas. The hukuo system of resident registration existed in the rural country side of china. Other systems which existed were based on work point and food allocation. The mobility of people was controlled and this means that they did not have freedom. Their travel was restricted; also, the state controlled what people could farm in their land. It had come up with a state plan for the purpose agricultural development. The Chinese were not allowed to become involved in activities that affected the outside world. The disadvantage is that Chinese people did not have excellent relationships with foreigners. They viewed foreigners as people who had come to exploit them.


In conclusion, China has succeeded in its attempts to become modernized. Currently, China is among the leading country’s in terms of economic development. The Three Gorges Dam is an efficient example of how economic modernization can be achieved. Also, the government of China tried to deny people freedom and this had adverse effects on the country. The Maoist regime will forever remembered in history for its contribution to economic modernization. There is a relation which exists between political freedom and economic Modernization. In the case of china, denying people their political rights made it easy to become modernized. The Chinese people had to adhere to the rules that were set by the government. The government wanted to succeed and it had to control its people to achieve the dream. Indeed, Chinese relations with its citizens has currently improved and for the benefit of its economy.










Dai Qing, Yangtze! Yangtze! Http: //,(Accessed November 25, 2011)


Sleigh, Adrian. & Jackson, Sukhan. “Resettlement for China’s Three Gorges Dam: Socio-economic impact and institutional tensions” Communist and Post Communist Studies, 33, 2000.

Collins, Peter. “Falling here, rising there” The World in 2008, The Economist

White, G. (Ed.). 1991. The Chinese State in the Era of Economic Reform: The Road to Crisis. New York: M.E. Sharpe, Inc








[1] Dai Qing, Yangtze! Yangtze! Http: //, (Accessed Novenber 25, 2011)


[2] Dai Qing, Yangtze! Yangtze! Http: //, (Accessed Novenber 25, 2011)


[3] G White, (Ed.). The Chinese State in the Era of Economic Reform: The Road to Crisis. New York: M.E. Sharpe, Inc,1991)



[4]Dai Qing, Yangtze! Yangtze! Http: //, (Accessed November 25, 2011)


[5]Dai Qing, Yangtze! Yangtze! Http: //, (Accessed November 25, 2011)


[6] G White, (Ed.), The Chinese State in the Era of Economic Reform: The Road to Crisis. (New York: M.E. Sharpe, Inc, 1991)



[7] Adrian Sleigh and Jackson Sukhan.  “Resettlement for China’s Three Gorges Dam: Socio-economic impact and institutional tensions” Communist and Post Communist Studies, 33, (2000).


[8] Peter. Collins, “Falling here, rising there” The World The Economist, in 2008,


[9] Peter Collins. “Falling here, rising there” The World The Economist

, 2008,


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