New Dam Repeats ‘Stupid Mistake’
To its opponents, China’s Three Gorges dam on the Yangtze River is all the more tragic because it has a historical precedent. Built in the 1950s, the huge Sanmenxia – literally Three Gates Gorge – dam in central China is today regarded as a catastrophic failure with senior Communist party officials blaming it for many of the environmental and social problems that afflict the region.
The Sino-Soviet engineering team that designed it was asked to control flooding, produce electricity and improve transport on the Yellow River – the same reasons cited for building the Three Gorges dam, which after 13 years of construction is now nearing completion.
Like the Three Gorges, the Sanmenxia project was supported by China’s Communist party elite, including Mao Zedong, and was built without adequate planning for the potential negative consequences of such a radical disruption of China’s second-largest river.