Three Fragile Gorges

“Cut off the clouds and rain of the Wu Mountain; build up high channel out of the flat lake (截断巫山云雨,高峡出平湖).” So wrote Mao Zedong when dreaming of a dam on the Yangtze River in 1956. Half a century later, the Three Gorges is considered one of China’s great engineering feats, but as Caijing reports, the dam’s massive concrete walls conceal ecological chaos:

China’s Three Gorges Dam, which captured the world’s attention during nearly 14 years of seemingly endless construction, will finally be completed in 2008. After this summer’s flood season, the Three Gorges reservoir is expected to reach its designated level of 175 meters.

The world has never before seen a hydraulic engineering project as long and tortuous as the Three Gorges Dam…

However, along with this impressive and somewhat magical transformation, negative impacts of the project have emerged. Besides the large-scale displacements of millions of people, the Three Gorges area is affected by what has always been a fragile environment, one prone to frequent geological mishaps. Whether the various risks brought by such a massive, manmade process can be controlled has been a consistent point of focus for many people.


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