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Reviews 199© 3994 by University ofHawai'i Press Shiu-hung Luk and Joseph Whitney, editors. Megaproject: A Case Study ofChina's Three Gorges Project. Armonk, NewYork: M. E. Sharpe, 1993. vii, 236 pp. Hardcover $45.00. After seventy years ofindecision, inconclusive exploration, and much debate, China's nominal parliament, the National People's Congress, finally approved in 1992 the construction of the world's largest hydroelectric project—the Three Gorges Dam across the Yangtze River. Since then, the preparation for the construction has been going on in full swing. Last December, China's Prime Minister Li Peng spent a whole week on the proposed dam site, making detailed arrangements for the project. The State Council is expected to give the formal go-ahead sometime this year. The decision to start this project has been extremely controversial, to say the least. In spite of the intense government propaganda blitz and repeated appeals by Li Peng and his cabinet members, only 1,767 of the 2,633 delegates at the National People's Congress voted in favor of the project, 177 voted against it, 644 abstained , 25 simply refused to vote, and two even left the meeting in open protest. The votes in support ofthe project were just twelve more than the minimum of 1,755 required by law. It was said that the NPC President, Wan Li, decided to support this project only after Li Peng's intense personal lobbying. This kind ofvoting pattern is certainly not uncommon on Capitol Hill in Washington, but it was something unheard of in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, where delegates used to vote "unanimously" in support of whatever the government favored. After fhe vote a government publication admitted that fhe case was "unprecedented" in the entire history of the NPC. It is even more amazing to see that the opponents of the project, instead of admitting defeat in fear as they would normally do, have intensified their protest by speaking out more boldly than ever before. A collection of their recent writings of protest is going to press in the People's Republic. Never before in China has there been such deep concern over a construction project. More and more people now realize that the Three Gorges dam is not merely a colossal engineering venture. It is also an economic, social, political, and environmental issue of the first magnitude as well. The construction of such a project will have a host of long-term impacts on this most populous nation in the world. To complete the dam, China will have to spend at least sixty billion yuan (opponents believe this figure will double) in the coming eighteen years and approximately four hundred million people living along the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River will be seriously affected. Over one million have already been asked to move out of their homeland permanentiy. The project has naturally caused great anxiety and serious concern. Unfortunately, the English- 200 China Review International: Vol. 1, No. 2, Fall 1994 speaking world, except for a few environmentalists, has almost completely ignored the debate until now, with the publication of The Megaproject: A Case Study of China's Three Gorges Project. Drawing on many Chinese official and unofficial publications, this groundbreaking book assembles ten papers on die major issues raised by the "megaproject." Five of the papers were written by proponents of the Three Gorges Project while the rest are by opponents. These papers vary widely in quality and thoroughness. Each, however, presents a lively and opinionated look at all fhe major issues. Hong Qingyu's paper on the early stages of the project is outstanding. In spite ofhis apologetic tone, Hong gives a clear picture of the proposed project's long historical development from the 1920s to the late 1980s. The early stages of discussion were nothing but daydreaming. In the 1950s, '60s and '70s, Mao was determined to "raise calm lakes in steep ravines." Mao's beautiful dream was dashed, largely due to the Great Leap Forward disaster, the hostile international environment, and, to a degree, determined resistance within the bureaucracy. During the 1980s the proponents of fhe project eventually gained die tacit approval...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 199-201
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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