THE THREE GORGES DAM IN CHINA:
Forced Resettlement, Suppression of Dissent and Labor Rights Concerns
I . Summary
In April 1992, China's National People's Congress (npc) formally approved the "Resolution on theConstruction of the Yangtze River Three Gorges Project," marking the conclusion of decades of controversy within
the Chinese leadership in favor of supporters of the world's biggest-ever river dam project. Despite strenuous
government attempts to muzzle the debate, almost one-third of the normally compliant npc delegates, in an
unprecedented display of legislative dissent, either abstained or cast opposition votes. The following year, a pilot
project for the resettlement of an estimated 1.1 to 1.6 million inhabitants of the proposed 600-kilometer-long
reservoir area drew to a close and, in early 1994, the full resettlement program began in earnest. By mid-year,
excavation and preparation of the dam's foundations were underway at Sandouping, the chosen dam site just
downstream of the world-famous Three Gorges scenic area; in December, Premier Li Peng formally declared the
project open. The Chinese government has offered overseas manufacturers US$3 billion worth of machinery and
equipment contracts and will reportedly seek an additional US$5 billion or so in overseas funding for the project.
International tendering has already begun for a preliminary range of dam-related construction contracts. A showcase
for China's "opening and reform" policy, the dam is a model for how lack of transparency and debate, authoritarian
decision-making and underlying unfair labor conditions can taint an ambitious enterprise.
Publicly, the authorities have assured China's citizens and the rest of the world that the Three Gorges dam
will be environmentally safe and economically viable, and that it will even contribute toward social stability and
prosperity among the enormous number of people who are to be uprooted. Privately, a very different outcome is now
being anticipated by the government. As two "internal-use-only" documents recently prepared by China's public
security authorities and obtained by Human Rights Watch/Asia make clear, intensive contingency plans are now
being drawn up by the police to deal with the widespread social turmoil ranging from large-scale peaceful protest
actions to mass pitched battles with the authorities that is expected to ensue from the Three Gorges project as a
whole and from the population transfer program in particular. According to one of the reports, "Already, in January
1993, one armed fight involving over 300 persons occurred in the vicinity of the dam." (See Appendices I and II for
full texts of the documents.)
Throughout the protracted debate over the Three Gorges dam, numerous objections and challenges to the
project have been mounted by environmentalists, social scientists, geologists, sedimentation experts, hydraulic power
engineers, military planners and other Chinese specialists concerned about the dam's likely economic, social, political
and national security consequences. These have received short shrift from top government leaders, in particular
Premier Li Peng, who seem intent on denying a public forum to opponents of the monumental project and on forcing
it through both as a means of symbolizing China's fast-emerging "superpower" status and as a vehicle for personal
glorification. Since 1956, two generations of Three Gorges dam opponents from Li Rui, formerly Mao Zedong's
personal secretary and a vice-minister of water resources, to Dai Qing, a former Guangming Daily journalist who
in February 1989 published an anthology of articles opposing the dam have been discriminated against, dismissed
from office, publicly humiliated, branded as "rightists" and sometimes sent to prison for their dissenting views. Yet
it is often those critical voices which are most urgently needed during the kind of rapid modernization on which
China has embarked.
Internationally, in line with an evolving scientific and public-opinion consensus against the construction of
any more river-dam "megaprojects" such as Egypt's Aswan Dam and the Narmada project in India, foreign
governments and international lending agencies began, after 1989, to reverse their earlier stance of qualified support
for the project. The dramatic expansion of the Chinese economy during the past two years, however, has again altered
the general picture: a headlong rush by Western businesses to participate in China's emerging "socialist market
economy" has brought Western governments under increasing political pressure to signal backing for the Three
Gorges dam. In September 1994, for example, the White House solicited U.S. government interagency submissions
in what some believed could be the prelude to a full-scale resumption of U.S.-China commercial cooperation on the
One crucial aspect of the Three Gorges dam project which until now has received little public attention is
that of the project's potential for causing major human rights violations in the proposed reservoir region. The present
report focuses upon two main issues of concern: first, the Chinese government's continuing suppression of dissenting
viewpoints on the Three Gorges dam including a decades-long tight restriction on public information and debate,
extending most recently to the actual arrests of political activists opposed to the dam's construction; and second, the
human rights issues that surround the forced resettlement of more than one million current and future inhabitants of
the Three Gorges reservoir area and the rights of workers on the dam site.
China's longstanding restrictions on public access to information, debate and decision-making about large
dam-construction projects have had fatal consequences in the past. An example was the catastrophic collapse in
August 1975 of two large water-conservancy projects in Henan Province, the Banqiao dam and the Shimantan dam.
Hitherto almost entirely unreported beyond the confines of China's top party leadership and elite hydrological circles,
this event represented by far the largest known dam disaster in human history. In the resulting floods, famine and
health epidemics, fatalities amounted to anywhere between 86,000 (the government's internally-released figure) and
230,000 (an estimate produced by eight senior Chinese critics of the Three Gorges project). As Appendix III of this
report reveals, the Banqiao and Shimantan dam collapses were to a large extent man-made disasters, resulting from
flawed water-control policies. Overall lack of government transparency in the dam-building process has contributed
to a current situation whereby, according to Dai Qing, "More than one third of China's dams should be considered
unsafe." The most recent dam collapse, that at Gonghe in Qinghai Province, occurred in August 1993 with the loss
of more than 300 lives.
The two provinces most affected by the Three Gorges dam, Sichuan and Hubei, both contain numerous
political and religious prisoners held in China's laogai system of penal labor camps. Since these camps account for
a high proportion of the country's industrial output in the construction and building-materials sectors (see Labor
Rights section and Appendix IV below), prospective foreign investors in the Three Gorges project should take
systematic precautions against any inadvertent involvement with China's highly abusive laogai network.
In this report, Human Rights Watch/Asia calls on the Chinese government to provide full access to
information about the proposed resettlement program to those affected and permit the latter to freely express their
opinions through a process of consultation with authorities at the provincial and central level. The government should
establish a mechanism for investigating allegations of abuse and allow unhampered access of international human
rights and humanitarian organizations to the affected areas, including to prisons, to verify that complaints of abuses
are being adequately addressed and that no one is detained for speaking out against any aspect of government policy
concerned with the dam. The government should also provide full information about the legal status and whereabouts
of those already known to have been arrested in connection with protests against the dam, and should immediately
release anyone detained merely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association.
Human Rights Watch/Asia also calls on foreign governments to insist on human rights impact assessment
studies of the project before providing any financing, goods or services to facilitate the dam's construction. Private
foreign investors should insist on firm and verifiable guarantees from the Chinese government that human rights will
be respected before committing themselves to the project.
II. Muzzling the Critics
First mooted in 1919 by Sun Yat-sen, the plan to dam the Yangtze River at the Three Gorges was revived
by the Nationalist government in 1932, and an initial design proposal was drawn up by a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
mission to the region in 1944; three years later, escalating civil war led to the project's termination. Debate on the
Three Gorges project was reopened by Mao in 1953 and received fresh impetus the following year after the worst
floods for a century hit the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze, killing an estimated 30,000 people. In 1955,
Soviet experts were called in to provide technical and planning assistance on the dam project and soon thereafter an
overall coordinating body, the Yangtze Valley Planning Office (yvpo), was established. During the next several
decades, uncertainty over the fate of the Three Gorges region brought a central government freeze on virtually all
capital investment in the area, with the result that it is now one of the most underdeveloped and impoverished parts
The first expression of open dissent came in early 1957, at the height of the short-lived "Hundred Flowers"
movement. From June onwards, critics of the Three Gorges Dam project, including leading opponents within the
yvpo, were among several hundreds of thousands persecuted during the ensuing "Anti-Rightist" movement for
having spoken out against government policies earlier that year. In January 1958, however, Li Rui prevailed upon
Mao to delay construction of the dam; and during the Cultural Revolution decade, the project was suspended while
China prepared for possible warfare with the Soviet Union. But in 1970, construction of the Gezhouba dam located
just downstream of the Three Gorges dam site and originally conceived as forming the second phase of the
megaproject was approved by the leadership. (The first attempt at building the dam had to be torn down because
of poor design and construction work; it was finally completed in 1989 at a cost of several times the original budget.)
Purged during the Great Leap Forward, Li Rui returned to office in 1979, just as debate was again resuming on the
Three Gorges project.
The pro-dam lobby encountered three main rounds of public opposition during the 1980s. The first was
during 1985-86, when a delegation of senior experts from the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference
(cppcc), led by the ninety-two-year-old veteran economist and leading dam opponent Sun Yueqi, conducted a five-
week field trip to the proposed dam site. Upon their return, the seven experts issued a report to the cppcc
recommending that the project "should not go ahead in the short term." While the initiative temporarily succeeded
in slowing the project's impetus, Sun's comments on an incident that occurred two years later, in June 1988,
illustrated the central authorities' more customary mode of dealing with opposition viewpoints:
At an enlarged meeting of the Leading Group for the Assessment of the Three Gorges Project, I gave two
long speeches on the subject along with other members of the cppcc. Although many different views were
expressed at the meeting, nothing appeared in the summary of the proceedings, except the names of the
speakers. Some experts presented different points of view, but none was accepted and the assessment reports
on various subjects were adopted by the majority. The structure of meetings only reinforced "the single
opinion" of the Ministry of Water Resources and Electric Power.
As Li Rui later explained, the membership of the "Leading Group" and its various specialist committees had
been carefully stacked by pro-dam officials:
Frankly speaking, the way evidence was put forward to decide on this project was neither scientific nor
democratic. What they did was to shape teams of over 400 experts to gather evidence. But over 90 percent
of the leaders, including the experts who composed the teams, were already in favor of constructing the dam.
Moreover, these people were all under the control of the top leadership. Very few opponents of the project
were allowed to join the teams. Most were kept outside.
Another surge in public opposition to the dam occurred in 1987, with the publication in Hunan Province of
a collection of scholarly articles titled "On Macro-Decision Making in the Three Gorges Project." The book, the
list of whose contributors read like a "who's who" of expert dissident opinion on the dam, was followed in March
1989 and in 1992 by two further volumes by the same editors. The government withdrew the first two from
circulation after June 1989 and the third was approved for publication only in "internal" (restricted-circulation) form.
As Tian Fang, one of the editors of the series, remarked in 1993, "When I edited this [series] I was slandered and
reviled. I'm seventy-five years old but until last year my hair was black; now it's turning white. I feel very anxious
about the Three Gorges project. It is China's misfortune, a catastrophic tragedy." He continued,
When we published our first book on macro-policy making on the Three Gorges, the head of the Ministry
of Water Resources and Electric Power, Qian Zhengying, brought it to the attention of Premier Li Peng. He
went to the chairman of the State Planning Commission's standing committee and told him to inform me that
the leadership was not willing to publish the book and to demand that I stop it from happening. Even if I
published the book, he said, he would buy up all the copies to ensure that it could not be distributed.
The last round of open dissent on the Three Gorges dam before the Tiananmen Square crackdown occurred
in February 1989 with the publication of Yangtze! Yangtze!, a collection of scholarly anti-dam articles edited by Dai
Qing and released to coincide with key sessions of the cppcc and National People's Congress (npc) at which the
future of the Three Gorges dam was due to be decided. The effect of the book, which was published independently
with funds contributed by prominent Chinese intellectuals, exceeded all expectations: under pressure from
assembled delegates largely influenced by the book, the State Council decided to postpone the Three Gorges project
for a further five years. (A petition by 272 npc delegates around one tenth of the total calling for the project to
be postponed until the twenty-first century, however, was excluded from the formal list of conference proposals.)
With the June 4 massacre and its repressive aftermath, the mood of new liberalism evaporated: Dai Qing was
denounced by the official media, secretly detained by police in July and then held for the next ten months in isolation
at Qincheng Prison. In September 1989, two members of the Leading Group for the Assessment of the Three Gorges
Project submitted a letter to the State Planning Commission attacking both Dai and the editors of the 1987 Hunan
Yangtze! Yangtze!...advocates bourgeois liberalization. It is a book opposing [Deng Xiaoping's] Four
Cardinal Principles, and a book that has provided opinions for the chaos and riots. Comrades Lin Hua and
Tian Fang of your unit were also involved in this action."
As Tian later observed, "After the Tiananmen incident, the Ministry of Power wrote a letter to the leaders
of the State Planning Commission slandering us and falsely accusing our [second] book of being linked to Dai Qing.
They said it had created arguments in favor of the counterrevolutionary turmoil and they asked the leadership to
In October 1989, the government formally banned Yangtze! Yangtze! and ordered the Guizhou-based
publisher of the book to recall the remaining 30,000 copies and destroy them immediately. Although eventually
released from prison, Dai Qing was later expelled from her post on the Guangming Daily and barred from publishing
any further works in China. Opposition to the Three Gorges megaproject was now effectively stigmatized by the
authorities as amounting to direct involvement in the "bourgeois-liberal plot" that had produced the Tiananmen
Square protests; not surprisingly, no more anti-dam voices were heard in public for the next several years. The chief
political beneficiary of the June 4 crackdown, Premier Li Peng, had long been the principal advocate for an early start
to the Three Gorges project. He thus reaped a double advantage from the crackdown, and by early 1992 he was ready
to push his favorite project through to fruition.
As noted above, the npc gave its formal seal of approval to the Three Gorges project in April 1992 albeit
in the face of an unprecedented level of opposition from the delegates. That opposition was based on extensive
technical and environmental information that had been acquired by legislators despite systematic government efforts
to suppress it and to stigmatize dissent over the project as indicating ulterior political motives. Technical data
supplied by a wide range of experts were ignored by officials or arbitrarily excluded from the legislative debate, and
controls on free expression precluded any properly-informed discussion. Tian Fang, for example, tried to distribute
copies of his three-volume Hunan anthology among the delegates. However, "When the leaders found out about this
they said it would be impossible for me to do so....The first restriction they made was that I couldn't give the books
out until the conference was finished; the second was that I could not enter the conference hall. `These books of yours
are not helpful to the security of the npc session,' they said. This was simply laughable."
An npc delegate opposed to the dam, Huang Shunxing, later elaborated upon how the meeting was
They set up various obstacles to my learning about the project and were unwilling to provide the most basic
data on the assessment....Each delegate was presented with several pounds of materials supporting the
project. Yet the materials outlining the opposition views consisted only of a few pamphlets....The experts
invited to introduce the project were all from the Ministry of Water Resources and the yvpo, all of whom,
of course, supported the dam....I also made copies of the opposition pamphlets that the npc Secretariat had
refused to distribute. However, it turned out that I could not even give out these materials, since, according
to the rules of the meeting, delegates from different regions were prevented from having mutual contact.
Undeterred, Huang insisted on exercising his right to address the assembled delegates as provided for by
Article 54 of the npc's rules:
I raised my hand, requesting to speak, but was ignored by the chairman. I stood up anyway and at this point,
I heard a journalist from Taiwan shout: "No sound! No sound!" At first, I didn't know what had happened,
but later I learned that the entire sound system in the meeting hall had been shut down, with the exception
of the chairman's microphone.
So concluded the public policy-making debate. In taking the highly unusual and seemingly laudable step of
submitting the project for final decision by the npc, the government in fact had sought merely an uncritical
endorsement of the project and one which served to relieve it of ultimate responsibility rather than a genuinely
representative decision based upon the project's actual merits.
Securing the npc's formal imprimatur for the project, moreover, in no way diminished the authorities'
continued level of vigilance against opposition to the dam. In January 1994, Dai Qing tried four times to convene
a Three Gorges discussion seminar in Beijing involving academics, hydrologists, government officials and others.
On the first three occasions, her room bookings were cancelled without explanation by the venue managers, and on
the fourth, officials from the State Security Bureau tracked down all the invited participants and had stern warnings
against attending the meeting issued to them by their individual work units. As Dai later observed, "With no speakers
and no audience, how could I hold the seminar?", so she cancelled the seminar herself. She also noted that since the
average age of the participants was over seventy, it was not as if they were about to take to the streets to demonstrate
III. Case of the "Democratic Youth Party"
But what of those most directly affected by the Three Gorges megaproject namely the present inhabitants
of the proposed reservoir area? As the two confidential police reports appended below emphasize, grassroots
resistance to the project is increasing. The authorities' terms of reference for dealing with opposition are
uncompromising in those reports: "Public security organs...should resolutely uphold the policy of speed and severity
in striking timely blows at crimes and criminals that sabotage the Three Gorges construction and relocation."
So far as is known, there have been no public reports in the Chinese media concerning recent dissident
activity or arrests in the dam region. Information concerning a major case of precisely this type, however, was
documented in early 1993 in one of the confidential police reports appended below. According to the Wanxian police
The "Democratic Youth Party" (Minzhu Qingnian Dang), a counterrevolutionary clique comprising a
network of 179 members that was uncovered and seized by the public security bureau in Kai County in May
1992, was a well-organized group that had been carrying out counterrevolutionary activities aimed at
sabotaging the policy of opening and reform and at disrupting the smooth progress of the Three Gorges
A search by Human Rights Watch/Asia through all issues of the main Sichuan provincial newspaper and the
provincial legal press for 1992-93 has uncovered no public reports by the authorities on any aspect of this dissident
arrest case, although it appears to have been one of the largest in China for more than a decade. Inquiries about the
case by journalists and diplomats have elicited no information from Chinese officials. Nothing is known about who
the detainees were, what subsequently became of them, or the precise nature of the group's aims and activities. The
May 1992 crackdown on the Democratic Youth Party coincided, however, with a widespread series of arrests of the
organizers of peaceful pro-democracy parties in Beijing, Lanzhou, Zhengzhou and other Chinese cities, and the police
action in Kai County appears to have been part of this broader crackdown.
Such cases in China fall firmly within the orbit of what the government terms "sabotage by domestic
reactionary forces." As the Wanxian police report explained,
Enemy elements hostile to socialism that still exist within the country and international reactionary forces,
acting in coordination, use all kinds of methods to oppose the people's democratic dictatorship, to sabotage
the socialist revolution and construction, and to sabotage social order. The Three Gorges project will
necessarily become an important target of theirs.
Thus far, as in the case of the Tiananmen Square protests, the security authorities have found it expedient
to attribute much of the dam-related unrest to "foreign interference":
The Three Gorges project has attracted international attention. Friends around the world praise the
magnificent aspiration of the Chinese people, and will undoubtedly provide help and support by a variety
of means. At the same time, however, hostile domestic and foreign forces show great "interest" in the Three
Gorges project. They use mass media instruments such as television, radio, newspapers or wind-carried
leaflets to defame the Three Gorges project, or spy out information on the project and the population
relocation under the cover of legal activities such as tourism, visiting relatives, or news reporting. According
to statistics from the heart of the project, Wanxian Prefecture, alone, more than twice as many spies and
agents were sent by hostile international forces from January to August 1992 as in the whole of 1991.
Local opposition toward the Three Gorges project, however, appears to have been genuine and homegrown.
Kai County, the part of Wanxian District where the Democratic Youth Party was based, is a rural area containing
some of the most fertile and prosperous orange groves in China. These, and most of the county itself, are destined
to disappear when the Three Gorges reservoir is finally inundated. There is thus reason to believe that the alleged
"counterrevolutionary organization" uncovered by the county's security authorities in May 1992 was merely an
unofficial local pressure group, formed by local residents concerned about their impending forced relocation. If the
group had espoused or engaged in any violent activities, the confidential police report cited above would have
certainly said so.
Human Rights Watch/Asia calls upon foreign governments and businesses who are contemplating
involvement in the Three Gorges project and who believe that increased economic engagement represents the best
way to advance human rights in China to assist actively in seeking from the Chinese authorities a full and adequate
accounting of the fate of the Kai County pro-democracy detainees.
IV. Population Relocation Program
Approximately 10.2 million people have been involuntarily resettled in China since 1949 in connection with
some 86,000 dam and reservoir construction projects. More than half of the relocations were undertaken as a result
of the building of 311 large-scale dams, of which three the Danjiangkou, Sanmenxia and Xin'anjiang
projects involved population transfers each in excess of 300,000 persons, dwarfing all similar programs elsewhere
in the world. Official statistics indicate, moreover, that around 30 percent of all Chinese citizens relocated for dam-
building purposes since 1949 around three million people are still, despite government promises of an improved
quality of life after relocation, living in conditions of extreme poverty. Poor site selection was sometimes the main
reason for this; excessive scale of construction was often another. In the case of the Three Gorges project, policy-
makers have opted for the greatest and most expensive possible scale of construction (rising to a height of 185
meters, the dam will be the largest concrete structure on earth), at a single site on a heavily-populated stretch of the
world's third largest river.
While every government has the right of eminent domain, those forced to resettle should have the right to
voice their opposition to the project, to challenge it before an impartial court and to obtain adequate compensation.
The obligation of citizens to move, moreover, must not be allowed to form a basis or justification for acts of official
coercion, such as arbitrary detention or physical abuse, that are in violation of international standards of human
But in China, resettlements have often been carried out in ways which are highly abusive of human rights.
A forthcoming volume edited by Dai Qing provides a devastating critique of the human cost and consequences of
China's post-1949 dam-building program. Most of the Xin'anjiang Dam population-transfer program, for example,
although originally scheduled to be completed over a several-year period, was suddenly and forcibly carried out en
masse at the height of the Great Leap Forward. As Mou Mo and Cai Wenmei, two of the contributors to Dai's new
book, relate, in 1958 the Jiande District Party Committee issued a directive ordering that peasants should "take more
good ideology with them, and less old furniture"; social organization was to be "militarized" and the resettlements
carried out "like a battle action." On arrival at the resettlement sites, more than half of the 300,000 relocatees
reportedly found that they had been assigned to live in swamp or wasteland areas which officials then expected them
to reclaim and make habitable. The land generally proved unarable, and many of the families eventually had to uproot
themselves and begin the arduous resettlement process all over again. Over the next few decades, a similar pattern
of arbitrary and enforced relocations leading to severe hardship and impoverishment emerged in the cases of other
large dam-related resettlement programs elsewhere around the country.
Secrecy and Plans for Coercion
Such extreme abuses as these are unlikely to be inflicted upon those to be resettled for the building of the
Three Gorges dam. The mass involuntary resettlement program entailed by the project, however, has been conceived
as a "mass mobilization campaign", reminiscent of those which, in the past, have sacrificed people's welfare for the
fulfillment of grandiose, ill-conceived projects aimed at glorifying the state power. According to the authorities,
"The masses of the people of the Three Gorges area are willing to sacrifice their own interests and loyally support
the Three Gorges project....[This is] a vitally important guarantee of successfully accomplishing public security work
in the region."
The extent of people's willingness is questionable, and in any case, the fact is that they have not been asked
or informed about what awaits them. The million-plus population of the Three Gorges Dam area is to be subjected
to forced and involuntary relocation to areas that are, for the most part, infertile and already overpopulated hill-slopes
high above the proposed reservoir water-level. (Earlier plans to move a portion of the relocatees to remote areas of
Xinjiang Province were abandoned after an international outcry against the proposal. )
The blatantly coercive nature of the relocation program was spelled out in a document issued by the Sichuan
Provincial Government in July 1994:
Article 25. Resettlers compelled to evacuate by the resettlement plan and relevant agreements and contracts
may not procrastinate or refuse to relocate under any excuse. Those who have settled may not backtrack [to
their former homes] without authorization.
Those attempting to stage protest demonstrations or to carry out acts of civil disobedience, moreover, will
be summarily dealt with. In May 1993, the Hubei police authorities set themselves the task of "actively coordinating
all relevant departments to prevent and forestall armed mass disturbances arising from disputes over forestry, land
and water-conservancy resources, and to uncover and crack down hard against bad people who seek to incite or
exploit such disputes." Again, according to the recently-issued Sichuan regulations,
Article 39: Any person who, in breach of the provisions contained in this set of procedures, disrupts the
public order in the process of land-requisition compensation and relocation of residents, causing suspension
of the normal operation of work and production, will be punished by the public security authorities in
accordance with the Security Administration Punishment Act....Those whose offense constitutes a crime will
be prosecuted on the basis of their criminal responsibility according to law.
Moreover, the Security Administration Punishment Act, under which police officials can impose fines of
up to 3,000 yuan or sentence people without trial to periods of up to fifteen days' imprisonment, was amended by
the npc Standing Committee in May 1994 to bring a further eighteen new offenses within its scope. As the
Washington Post reported, "The [new] regulations allow authorities to crack down on members of unapproved
religious groups, members of ethnic groups who call for national independence, and political dissidents." And if
these sweeping new powers prove insufficient for quelling social unrest, the police can simply resort to alternative
regulations allowing them to impose, without trial, three-year custodial sentences of "labor re-education." With law-
enforcement options like these available, actual criminal prosecutions, which involve the police in troublesome
procedures like gathering evidence, are rarely required. In addition, new government legislation passed in February
1993 and July 1994 has given the police virtually carte blanche authority to determine "threats to state security," and
the judicial penalties for those sentenced on such grounds can extend to death.
Compensation and Expected Unrest
The process of determining compensation for those who are relocated falls far short of acceptable standards,
both monetarily and in terms of transparency and accountability. To offset the huge losses in land and property that
the relocated families will suffer, the government plans to apply a policy of "developmental relocation" (kaifaxing
yimin), whereby compensation funds will be given to local government bodies for agricultural and industrial
investment in the resettlement zones, as compared to the former policy of making cash payments directly to the
families themselves. Officials argue that the new policy will ensure an acceptable and steadily-rising living standard
for the displaced populations, thereby turning "negative and passive factors" into "positive and active ones." But the
compensation policy has not been based on any consultation with those affected, to Human Rights Watch/Asia's
knowledge, and there is a high risk that funds offered will be inadequate. Moreover, those affected have no adequate
legal mechanisms or ways through which to challenge the compensation offered.
Near-endemic levels of corruption now afflicting the Party-government administrative apparatus in China
will further reduce the amount of compensation actually delivered to relocated families. While corruption per se is
not a human rights abuse under international law, it frequently serves to trigger or exacerbate such abuses. Officials
who extort money from ordinary citizens or who impose illegal levies, for example, often do so forcibly and may
resort to violence to suppress popular protests against their corrupt practices. Of particular concern in this context
is the Three Gorges' "developmental relocation" policy which requires that compensation funds be handed over by
central government to officials in the localities concerned, who will then have discretion in deciding what portion
of the money is to be "invested" on the relocatees' behalf and what portion is to be handed over directly in the form
of cash payments.
The government is well aware that poor compensation sows the seeds of protest. According to the Wanxian
public security authorities,
There is no lack of precedent for disturbances. For example, problems left over from the relocation of
inhabitants in projects such as the Xinhua Reservoir in Wushan County, the Xiaojiang hydropower station
in Yunyang County and the Baishi Reservoir in Zhong County have constantly been the cause of frequent
mass disturbances of no small scale; these problems have not been overcome even at this time. These small
reservoirs involved the relocation of only a few hundred people, whereas the Three Gorges project will
involve a million. Once disturbances arise, it is difficult to predict how far they might go.
Meanwhile, an insight into the sheer scale of the sacrifices that the "masses" are currently expected to make
can be gleaned from just one example cited by the security authorities:
Most of the land to be submerged in Wanxian Prefecture is fertile flood plain, river valley and flat land. The
inhabitants of this area live in relative plenty. The largest county to be submerged is Kai County, famous
for its Mandarin oranges....Shuidong Village in the county's Fengle Township has a per capita annual income
of rmb 1,500, but its preliminary relocation target area, Huangling Village in Fengle Township, has a per
capita annual income of only rmb 500 per capita.
Already, in February 1994, protests flared among 5,000 relocatees who had been evacuated from Hubei's
Yichang County and then left in flimsy temporary housing in mid-winter temperatures. The settlers had apparently
been promised they would spend the Chinese New Year in houses far superior to those they had left behind.
However, a Hong Kong newspaper reported a local official as saying: "Not a single family has moved into new
permanent housing, because of slow progress and lack of funds." Added the report: "Sources said more than 100
companies claiming to be involved in `the Three Gorges development' had recently sprung up in Beijing, some
apparently backed by money originally intended for peasant resettlement in Hubei and Sichuan provinces."
As the confidential police reports conclude,
It is difficult to make arrangements that will satisfy the ideal expectations of the relocatees. If dealt with
improperly, this will cause social shock and endless trouble in the future....A slight exacerbation of this [type
of] antagonism, coupled with agitation by unlawful elements, will lead to disturbances such as sit-ins,
demonstrations, and petitions, or even to grave cases of beating, smashing and looting....Civil disputes,
violent fights and massive armed melees between groups of people will increase dramatically....There may
even be bloody armed incidents between organized groups and clans.
The catalogue of dam-related civil unrest and social turmoil privately being anticipated by the security
authorities is daunting in the extreme. Past experience suggests that emergent problems are unlikely to be dealt with
through enlightened conflict mediation practices. Instead, the authorities' first recourse, as in the case of the 179
members of the Democratic Youth Party in Kai County, will be toward swift repression aimed at "nipping problems
in the bud."
V. Labor Rights
China's suppression of free labor practices, and its incarceration of political prisoners in forced labor camps,
are directly relevant to the government's plans for construction of the Three Gorges dam. Given a well-established
pattern of abuses against China's migrant workers, the dam's construction will depend on labor conditions of
unregulated cruelty. And to the extent that materials used in construction are provided by labor camp enterprises,
some materials will be furnished through forced labor.
According to the security authorities, "Following the commencement of the project, a great construction army
of hundreds of thousands of persons will come to the area....[and] migrant laborers from all over the country will
blindly flow into the Three Gorges region." Currently, there are an estimated eighty to one hundred million migrant
workers (mingong) in China, mostly originating from impoverished rural areas and seeking work in the cities. Living
in conditions of squalor and insecurity, they are vulnerable to the twin depredations of exploitative factory owners,
who commonly make them work long hours in unsafe conditions, and public security officials who routinely detain,
beat and fine them for not having the proper working and residency permits. Even those outsiders working lawfully
are not safe from police-operated "squeeze" rackets and other forms of harassment. In numerous cases monitored
by Human Rights Watch/Asia in the Shenzhen special economic zone, for example, security officials have demanded
that migrant workers show their papers, and then, on production of the requisite documents, have torn them up and
fined the workers anyway. In neither case are receipts provided.
Although vitally important to China's emerging market economy, migrant laborers are widely resented by
local residents and heavily discriminated against by government authorities. Relegated to the bottom of the social
ladder, in practice they have virtually no rights at all. It is these same workers who will, for the most part, constitute
the labor force for the construction of the Three Gorges project.
At the same time, despite the government's public pledge that all those who are to be transferred out of the
Three Gorges development zone will be guaranteed fresh employment after the move, the security authorities have
no such expectation:
There will be a great amount of surplus labor among the relocatees. Although they will hope to get jobs in
factories, the number of people enterprises can take is limited. Thus, they will have to turn to some other
non-agricultural occupation and flow into the cities, increasing pressure on metropolitan areas, adding to
social problems, and creating a latent disaster for public security.
All this points inevitably to the emergence of a buyer's labor market in the Three Gorges region in which
temporary workers will be at the mercy of the authorities. Since formation of independent labor unions is
prohibited, they will be denied the right to organize to press for improvements in their working conditions. In May
1989, as elsewhere in China, attempts by workers in Sichuan and Hubei provinces to form such organizations were
met by naked governmental repression, and the organizers were promptly dispatched by China's courts to serve long
terms of imprisonment.
The plight of those on the lowest rung of China's labor hierarchy, namely the huge captive workforce held
throughout the countrywide network of forced-labor laogai agricultural camps and penal-industrial enterprises, must
also be considered. For decades, quarried limestone, concrete and bricks have formed together with the mining,
chemicals, machine tool and electrical goods industries the mainstays of the country's prison production system.
The provinces of Sichuan and Hubei contain at least 134 prison and "labor re-education" enterprises, many of which
are prominently engaged in the above-mentioned areas of production. The Three Gorges Dam has been described
as being the largest civil-engineering project since the building of the Great Wall more than two millennia ago, and
vast quantities of rock and cement will be required for its construction. Urban relocation and development in
preparation for the inundation of numerous cities and small towns in the reservoir area will consume similarly large
amounts of brick, glass, steel pipe, asbestos and other building materials before the project is finally completed.
Evidence that the laogai system will provide materials for the Three Gorges dam is strong, if to date
circumstantial. The biggest agro-industrial penal complex in the entire country Shayang Farm in Hubei
Province is located a mere one hundred kilometers from Sandouping, the Three Gorges dam site. The vast Shayang
complex comprises no fewer than thirteen labor-reform detachments (zhidui), five independent labor-reform brigades
(duli dadui) and eight additional jails. Extending over three municipalities and two counties and bordering on more
than 300 small towns and villages, the prison camp holds more than 71,000 prisoners and occupies a staggering total
of 2,146 square kilometers of land. Among the many forced-labor production units at Shayang are numerous brick
and tile factories, several cement plants and a claystone mine. The Chengdu Municipal Prison, meanwhile, doubles
as the "Sichuan New Life Electrical Generator Plant, where long-term inmates labor to produce seventeen different
kinds of hydroelectric power generators. And the Hubei labor-reform network owns and runs twenty-seven reservoirs,
all built by prisoners. (See Appendix IV for further examples.)
The laogai economic system has thoroughly penetrated China's construction-materials market. For example,
in the case of the Henan Province No. 18 Labor-Reform Detachment, a prison known externally as the Zhenhua Glass
Factory, a journal for prison officials notes:
In October 1992, following changes in the building materials market, the Zhenhua Glass Factory allocated
eighty-four young cadres imbued with a pioneering spirit to "take the plunge" into commerce. Since then,
twelve branches of the Xinglong Industry and Commerce Corporation have been set up in the cities of
Haikou, Beijing, Shanghai, Wuxi, Xi'an, Wuhan, Shenyang, Fuzhou, Chengdu, Taiyuan and Haerbin,
creating a total of forty different sales outlets nationwide....In this way, our goods were able to flood the
domestic market and we established a basis for entering the international market.
There is no indication that the government plans to reform these forced-labor enterprises. In fact, it has
given them tax-free status through at least the end of 1995, in a directive issued in March 1994. The Taxation
Bureau of Chongqing Municipality, the largest of the cities adjoining the proposed Three Gorges reservoir area, was,
moreover, among only five such authorities around the country to whom the directive was explicitly addressed.
Already benefiting from a wholly unpaid labor force, and potentially involved in producing materials for the Three
Gorges dam, the laogai system has thus been critically reinforced on the eve of the dam's proposed construction.
Foreign construction companies that choose to participate in the Three Gorges project, therefore, could easily find
themselves getting involved, directly or otherwise, in the use of materials and equipment produced by Chinese
Until approximately 1987, the Chinese government regularly dismissed the whole concept of human rights
as being a "bourgeois fallacy" designed to mislead and disarm the proletariat and other vulnerable or unsuspecting
members of the socialist-state citizenry. Over the past few years, this stance has been superseded by a somewhat
more sophisticated set of official justifications as to why the authorities should be allowed to continue to deny
internationally recognized rights to Chinese people. In brief, the new argument claims that the low level of economic
development is the principal cause of weak human rights protection in China; that progress on or enhancement of
rights will therefore follow in the wake of rising economic prosperity; and that the government's opening up of a
"socialist market economy" and other current socioeconomic policies are precisely the means by which greater rights
will be achieved. A response to international human rights criticism, this view has recently been elevated by the
Chinese and several other Asian governments to the status of a theoretical defense of national culture and identity
on the part of all countries striving to free themselves from underdevelopment.
Reduced to its bare essentials, the argument maintains that authoritarian rule by an allegedly enlightened
political elite provides the only sure guarantee of sustained, orderly transition to the desired state of national
prosperity. Certain specific rights such as freedom of speech and the right to political or labor-related association
must therefore be "delayed," "controlled" or otherwise restricted in the interim. Implicit in the argument, but in
China's case expressed openly, is the view that those who seek to secure such rights are "wreckers" or "saboteurs"
of the nation's real interests.
There is no evidence to support the notion that a certain minimum level of economic development is a vital
precondition for the protection of fundamental human rights such as the right to freedom from torture or arbitrary
arrest and imprisonment and the right to peaceful demonstration and association. There is nothing either socially
"beneficial" or economically "functional" about violation of these rights; indeed it consumes huge amounts of public
funds to maintain an efficient police-state apparatus and to keep large numbers of dissidents locked away behind bars.
It is often those critical voices that are the most urgently needed during the kind of rapid modernization
process on which many Asian countries are embarked. With the rapid erosion of traditional communitarian structures
and value systems that invariably accompanies such change, freedom of speech and association often become
citizens' last line of defense against arbitrary or misguided government notions of how economic modernization
should proceed; they can also stimulate important correctives to bad policies. The Chinese government's drive to
suppress all unofficial political groupings, independent trade unions, local residents' negotiating bodies, ethnic-rights
lobbyists or any other sectoral-interest groups showing even a hint of independence, is rapidly driving these new
forces out of the arena of public debate, and in some cases, they have turned to violent forms of protest. By keeping
the lid down tightly on public debate now, the authorities could be stoking up a major explosion of social discontent
in the future.
Rapid economic growth in countries led by highly authoritarian political systems does not necessarily lead
to political liberalization or greater human rights. As even a cursory glance at government statements and
publications makes clear, the basic terms originally set out by Deng Xiaoping when he offered his "new prosperity
deal" to the country in 1978 namely, that the government would provide the population with greater economic,
social and cultural freedom in exchange for its continued, unquestioning obedience to the one-party political
system have not been relaxed since. Indeed, far from any overall expansion in the scope of civil liberties and human
rights having occurred since Deng's seminal "trip to the south" in spring 1992, new public order and state security-
related legislation introduced by the government over the past two years has reduced the scope of legally permitted
political, religious and other forms of free expression and dissent to considerably less than that available to citizens
in the early to mid-1980s. The right to strike, moreover, was deleted from China's Constitution not by the Gang of
Four, but by the administration of Deng Xiaoping.
If one clear lesson emerges from all that has happened in China since June 1989, it is that neither Deng nor
his successors are likely to move towards guarantees of fundamental civil and political rights. The claim that private
enterprise will automatically "generate" greater pluralism and enhanced respect for rights is wishful thinking --
allegations of grave violations of worker rights come more often from the private, rather than the state-owned, sectors
of the economy, and extend to many joint-venture concerns operated in China by Hong Kong, Taiwanese, South
Korean and, to a lesser extent, Western companies.
The Three Gorges project may represent the greatest test to date of the sincerity of the Chinese government's
arguments concerning the dependency of human rights upon the economy. As one of the largest single investment
and construction project in the country's current ten-year plan of economic development, and one which by its
incorporation of large quantities of foreign investment and expertise was meant to serve as a showcase of the
"opening and reform" policy, the Three Gorges project might have been expected to embody somewhat more
consultative decision-making processes than did similar previous projects in China, with respect for the
constitutionally-guaranteed right to free speech and assembly of local individuals or groups who remained
unconvinced of the project's promised advantages. Instead, expert scientific and technical debate on the issues was
suppressed; those who opposed the project or opposed relocation had no means to obtain full information or demand
redress for losses; and secret arrests of political dissidents in the area took place because of their opposition to the
dam. And the twenty-year dam construction and mass involuntary resettlement program has only just begun.
As numerous tragic events in China's post-1949 history from the Anti-Rightist Movement of 1957 to the
Banqiao Dam collapse of 1975 and the Beijing Massacre of 1989 have demonstrated all too clearly, the real threat
to public health and safety in China comes from a ruling party that brooks no outside scrutiny of, and accepts no
public accountability for, its actions. The Three Gorges project has already led to dissident arrests and shows a clear
potential for generating major human rights abuses in the future. Given the scale of the planned population
resettlements and the likelihood of widespread public protests and unrest, decisive government action aimed at
remedying the current absence of scrutiny and accountability in the project is now urgently required. Current
indications are, however, that no such action is envisaged by the authorities. Perhaps the true function of the Three
Gorges dam will simply be to stand like Emperor Qin Shihuang's Great Wall as an ultimate symbol of the power
and authority of the state.
the chinese government
* The Chinese government should provide full access to information about the proposed settlement program to those
affected and permit the latter to freely express their views on the project. It should also allow unrestricted debate
more generally on the merits of the project.
* The Chinese government should provide full information about the legal status and whereabouts of the 179
members of the Democratic Youth Party reportedly detained in connection with their protests against the Three
Gorges project in May 1992 in Kai County, Sichuan. Any persons still detained on account of such activities should
be freed forthwith, and the government should refrain from any further arbitrary denials of the right to peaceful
assembly and free expression in the Three Gorges area and cease punishing or persecuting those opposed to the dam's
* The Chinese government should establish an independent commission of experts charged with the task of
monitoring and supervising the progress of the Three Gorges population-transfer program. The commission should
reflect the main social constituencies and principal areas of specialist knowledge involved in the resettlement project,
and should be endowed with sufficient powers including the rights to investigate suspected abuses by government
officials, publish its findings independently and submit complaints to government or judicial authorities to enable
it to safeguard the interests of those being resettled.
* The Chinese government should allow unrestricted access by human rights and humanitarian organizations to the
dam site, including to prisons in the area, so that allegations of abuse and the Chinese government's steps to redress
them can be verified.
* The Chinese government should instruct the Sichuan and Hubei provincial governments to establish an institutional
framework for genuine consultations between the authorities and members of the resettlement population, with a
view to minimizing unfair or arbitrary treatment and ensuring transparency and consistency in the implementation
of resettlement criteria and standards of compensation.
* The Chinese government should seek the advice and involvement of the International Labor Organization (ilo)
to reduce the likelihood of labor rights abuses, including repression of independent labor organizers and mistreatment
of migrant workers. The ilo should send a team to China to make recommendations for specific protections of
internationally recognized labor rights, including freedom of association. Its findings should also be presented to the
ilo annual conference next June (1996) for consideration by governments involved directly or indirectly subsidizing
* Governments considering providing equipment, financing, commercial licensing, insurance or other goods and
services for the Three Gorges project, either directly to the Chinese government or to corporations registered in their
countries, should insist on independent studies of the likely human rights impact of the project before any agreements
are concluded. Those studies should be undertaken by an expert team, including human rights professionals, with
no ties whatsoever to the Chinese or any other government and with unrestricted access to the region. They should
include investigation of access to information about the project and efforts to suppress or control it; plans for or
implementation of resettlement, including ability to dissent and obtain redress for losses; and involvement of the
security forces in resettlement and examination of any coercion used. No investment should take place until such
studies have been completed and their findings made public.
* Government-supported financing, commercial licensing, insurance or other goods and services for the Three Gorges
should also be made contingent on the provision by the Chinese government of full information as to the legal status
and whereabouts of the 179 people reportedly detained in connection with their protests against the project in May
1992 in Kai Country, Sichuan.
private foreign investors
* Private investors should seek assurances from the Chinese government that the freedoms of expression and
association of those involved in the resettlement process or debating the Three Gorges project are respected; and that
the right to legal redress of those involved in the resettlement process to challenge decisions as well as protect other
rights are respected.
* Private investors should also seek assurances from the Chinese government that harsh repressive
measures including judicial penalties such as the death penalty imposed on "state security" grounds or the excessive
use of force will not be used in the course of the massive relocation program. They should also make it clear to
Chinese authorities that gross human rights abuses committed while carrying out forced relocations would reflect
badly on private foreign investors and may limit or preclude their ability to invest in Three Gorges.
private corporate activity
* Foreign corporations, especially construction companies, should include in their contracts explicit prohibitions on
the use of materials and equipment produced by Chinese prisoners. Their contracts should specify penalties they will
impose (such as surcharges or cancellation of contracts) if they discover that they are inadvertently using building
materials made by prisoners in the Sichuan and Hubei laogai. Governments underwriting investments in Three
Gorges should require such provisions in all contracts.
Human Rights Watch/Asia (formerly Asia Watch)
Human Rights Watch is a nongovernmental organization established in 1978 to monitor and promote the observance of
internationally recognized human rights in Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East and among the signatories of the Helsinki
accords. Kenneth Roth is the executive director; Cynthia Brown is the program director; Holly J. Burkhalter is the advocacy
director; Gara LaMarche is the associate director; Juan E. Mendez is general counsel; and Susan Osnos is the communications
director. Robert L. Bernstein is the chair of the executive committee and Adrian W. DeWind is vice chair. Its Asia division was
established in 1985 to monitor and promote the observance of internationally recognized human rights in Asia. Sidney Jones
is the executive director; Mike Jendrzejczyk is the Washington director; Robin Munro is the Hong Kong director; Zunetta Liddell,
Patricia Gossman and Jeannine Guthrie are research associates;Dinah PoKempner is counsel; Mark Girouard is a Luce fellow;
Diana Tai-Feng Cheng and Jennifer Hyman are associates; Mickey Spiegel is a research consultant.
Public Security Problems And
Countermeasures In The Three Gorges Area
(Internal Report of February 1993 by Officials of the
Wanxian Prefectural Public Security Department)
The Three Gorges Project has attracted worldwide attention. This project marks the initiation of a strong
attack on poverty in China and will be seen as an epic accomplishment in the history of water control projects. The
tremendous social and economic benefits flowing from the "lake within the gorges" [a phrase from one of Mao
Zedong's poems] are incomparable, and this project heralds a golden opportunity to invigorate the economy in the
Three Gorges Area. At the same time, public security problems have accompanied prosperity, and will be pervasive
throughout the process. If underestimated or handled improperly, these problems could influence the construction
of the project and the economic and social stability of the area. Chance and challenge coexist.
The Three Gorges Project is a world-class project. The extensive construction and the accompanying
relocation of inhabitants present difficult tasks that cannot be completed without the guarantee of a healthy and stable
internal and external environment. Thus, the purpose of this article is to present a preliminary estimate of public
security concerns during and after completion of the project in the Three Gorges area. These estimates are based on
the results of investigations and special inquiries, as well as on the forecasts of experts. The Three Gorges project
will result in the spatial redistribution of productive resources, the recombination of factors of production at a higher
level, the relocation of cities and towns, and a basic change in the scheme of public order in the region. A new reality
is emerging from these changes.
I. The Immediate and Long-term Concerns of a Million Relocated People
The resettlement of one million inhabitants is a mammoth, systematic undertaking. It involves partial
adjustment and rebuilding of the old economic structures, productive structures, work order, productive order and
social order. This process precedes construction and is more demanding even than the construction itself. Therefore,
relocation is a preliminary problem that is critical to the entire Three Gorges project.
In the primary area to be submerged, Wanxian Prefecture, investigations by relevant departments show that
the area submerged will account for two-thirds of the total reservoir area. Of a total of nine counties and one city in
the prefecture, seven counties, one city, fifty-six districts or towns, 176 townships, and 770 villages will be
submerged; this includes one city, six county seats, 108 market towns, 955 enterprises, 250,000 mu of cultivated land
and 20,990,000 square meters of building space will be submerged. The fixed assets to be submerged total rmb 1.8
billion. The project will involve the direct relocation of 570,000 people; ultimately 800,000 people will move.
Having summed up domestic and foreign experience from the past to the present, the state decided to carry
out a policy of developmental relocation instead of the old policy of compensated relocation in order to fully exploit
the rich resources of the area. This relocation policy with Chinese characteristics has already been successfully
implemented experimentally, and large-scale relocation can also proceed in an orderly fashion. Because, however,
of its scope, scale, ramifications, and demands, the relocation of a million people is a problem of world-class
proportions. If dealt with improperly, this process will cause social shock and endless trouble in the future.
1. It is difficult to make arrangements that will satisfy the ideal expectations of the relocatees. This might
lead to a certain number of disturbances involving confrontations between the masses and the government. The
region to be submerged has a long history of development and is relatively wealthy compared with other regions in
the Three Gorges area. For example, most of the land to be submerged in Wanxian Prefecture is fertile flood plain,
river valley and flat land. The inhabitants of this area live in relative plenty. The largest county to be submerged is
Kai County, famous for its Mandarin oranges. All of the land lost in this county contains rice producing areas and
Mandarin orchards. Shuidong Village in Fengle Township in this county has a per capita annual income of rmb 1500,
but its preliminary relocation target area, Huangling Village in Fengle Township, has a per capita annual income of
only rmb 500 per capita. Most relocatees have to move to mountainous areas, and there are substantial difficulties
in moving people from rich areas to poor mountainous areas.
In matters such as compensation for property and the allocation of land and housing sites, a gap between the
relocatees' hoped-for valuation and the actual compensation is bound to occur. For example, the new county seat of
Yunyang County is a 9.95 square kilometer tract. The relocatees are demanding compensation totaling nearly rmb
100 million for mulberry trees alone. The conflict between expectations and frustrated desires could easily foster
antagonism toward the government on the part of the relocatees and lead to some of the people refusing to move. This
would hamper the smooth progress of the Three Gorges project. A slight exacerbation of this antagonism, coupled
with agitation by unlawful elements, will lead to disturbances such as sit-ins, demonstrations, and petitions, or even
to grave cases of beating, smashing, and looting.
There is no lack of precedent for such disturbances. For example, problems left over from the relocation of
inhabitants in projects such as the Xinhua Reservoir in Wushan County, the Xiaojiang hydropower station in
Yunyang County and the Baishi Reservoir in Zhong County have constantly been the cause of frequent mass
disturbances of no small scale; these problems have not been overcome even at this time. These small reservoirs
involved the relocation of only a few hundred people, whereas the Three Gorges project will involve a million. Once
disturbances arise, it is difficult to predict how far they might go.
2. The redistribution of benefits during the adjustment period will intensify jealousies between the masses
in different relocation zones. Civil disputes, violent fights, and massive armed melés between groups of people will
increase dramatically. During the relocation period, it is difficult to redistribute benefits in a manner that is absolutely
fair. The conflicts between relocatees and local people are difficult to coordinate and harmonize. The area where the
Wanxian inhabitants are to be moved is already one of many people and little land; resettling a large number of
people there will inevitably involve the redistribution of land and forest resources. On one hand, the current standard
of living of the local people is relatively backward, and in the past fights over water, trees, and patches of farm land
among local peasants in the area constantly disturbed the public order. On the other, the circumstances of those
relocated to the area will undergo drastic changes with the movement of people and property into the area. In the
preliminary period of the "backward and upward movement" (hou kao) of relocatees to underdeveloped areas,
relocatees cannot retain their old standards of living, so psychologically they would expect higher compensation for
their sacrifice to the Three Gorges project.
The conflict between the different psychological attitudes of relocatees and local people will inevitably find
expression in conduct. That conflicts of interest between families, villages, immigrants and local people will lead
to disputes and fights is unavoidable; there may even be bloody armed incidents between organized groups and clans.
The employment of relocatees will also be a factor conducive to conflict because of differences in the abilities of the
relocatees, limitations in placement options, and differences in the placement of families and family members.
3. The sentimental attachment to native land is and will remain a great psychological obstacle during and
after the relocation period. "A man loves his native land like a bird loves its nesting trees." This deep-seated
traditional outlook is difficult to eradicate from the minds of most relocatees. With the commencement of the Three
Gorges project, relocation will move from the experimental stage to actual large- scale implementation. If the
relocatees are a bit unsatisfied, they will be overwhelmed by homesickness welling up in their hearts and this will
result in the release of pent-up dissatisfaction. They may create disturbances on the slightest provocation in order
to pressure the government, or they may return to their old homes in a cycle of action and reaction. This may become
an intractable long-term relocation problem and a latent threat to public order.
II. The Strong Impact of Three Gorges "Fevers"
The resolution concerning the construction of the Three Gorges project passed [in April 1992] by the Fifth
Session of the Seventh National People's Congress made possible the realization of the "lake within the gorges" and
quickly generated a series of unusual "fevers". Among these are a tourist fever to bid farewell to Three Gorges, an
investment fever to develop the Three Gorges economy, and a fever of "gold panning" [i.e. improper profit-making]
brought on by development. These fevers have abruptly altered the usual serenity of this area, bringing unprecedented
opportunities for prosperity to the simple and hard working inhabitants of the area. At the same time, these fevers
have also caused a series of problems in the realms of social administration and public security.
1. Public security problems have increased sharply with tourism fever. Although the charm of the Three
Gorges landscape will remain and become even more magnificent after the completion of the dam, domestic and
foreign tourists still believe that the current scenery of the Three Gorges is more unspoiled and appealing. They have
swarmed in, driven by the urge to experience the area before it changes.
According to pertinent information, eleven foreign-run luxury cruise boats began operations on March 15,
1993, and tickets for the year have been sold out for some time even though the fare is as high as US $540 per person.
Statistics from the "Golden Triangle" of Fengjie, Wushan, and Wuxi in Wanxian Prefecture show that the area
accommodated some 400,000 tourists from April to July of 1992. The Wushan county seat, with an area of a mere
1.2 square kilometers, received some 70,000 tourists from May 1 to May 10, 1993. Even with the best efforts of the
local government, it could see to the food, accommodation, and recreational needs of only half this number, and
every day thousands of tourists rested on rented stools or camped out on street corners. The public security office
marshalled over 100 police officers to maintain public order, but fights over tour boat places or food and lodging
constantly broke out. There were more than thirty cases of violence with relatively serious consequences. From
commencement to completion of the Three Gorges project, tourism fever will continue to heat up and the tourism
industry will be unable to meet the demands being placed on it. This situation cannot be changed in a short time, and
presents a serious threat to public security and order in tourist areas.
2. Investment fever has also caused new problems in the mechanisms of social administration. The long years
of indecision over the Three Gorges project affected state investment in the area and were a big constraint on the
area's economic development. Using Wanxian Prefecture as an example, in the 40 years from 1949 to 1989,
budgetary investment from the central government totalled only rmb 610 million, or rmb 70 per capita. Before the
Seventh Five-Year Plan, not a single large enterprise was located in the area, resulting in a serious lack of industrial
infrastructure. After the passage of the resolution approving the Three Gorges project, hundreds of millions of yuan
in investments of all kinds flowed in from the central government.
With the commencement of a multitude of major construction projects and the construction of new cities and
towns, many construction teams are bound to swarm in to the area. Disputes caused by competition for work,
construction sites, and materials can not be avoided in this situation. Hundreds of thousands of construction workers
and others not native to the area are going to pour in. With so many people of different individual qualities crowded
together in such a limited space, there are bound to be increased frictions and collisions, and public security problems
are bound to increase. The control of temporary and floating populations, the security of many major projects, the
safe circulation of huge sums of construction investments, and the protection of scattered construction sites are all
needs that cannot be met by the current administrative structure, security control forces, and administrative methods.
If measures of a fundamental nature are not adopted, problems of public security will increase more and more and
become a negative factor hindering economic construction.
3. "Gold panning fever" spurs the growth of unlawful and criminal activity. The Three Gorges project and
the development of the area has attracted a large pool of talented people, and a good number of construction
personnel will acquit themselves well on this historical stage. But there will be a great number of gold panners
dreaming of wealth who will go on a spree when they earn money, and try to find other illegal means of making
money when they are unsuccessful. Along with this will come a clear change in the direction of roving criminals.
Instead of flowing from this area into the developed coastal areas as they have in recent years, criminals will, in a
quick counterthrust, start flowing from other areas to here to stir up trouble. This constitutes a serious threat to social
order in the area.
At the same time, the huge flow and concentration of people, property and other resources provides more
opportunities for criminal activity. The number of "six scourges" cases [i.e. prostitution, hooliganism, etc.] has shot
up, gang crimes are increasing, and mafia-type gangs will become an evil force jeopardizing public security in the
area. Moreover, "gold panning fever" directly entices some state officials to engage in criminal activities such as
corruption, bribe-taking, embezzlement, speculation, and fraud. This will hinder to some degree the smooth process
of construction and relocation in the Three Gorges project.
III. Immense Changes in the Geography of Land and Water
With the completion of the Three Gorges project and the filling of the reservoir, the water surface area will
increase, and numerous bays, lakes, confluences, peninsulas and islands will be created. The great changes in the
physical geography of land and water will cause major changes in patterns of public security. The old pattern
consisted of three crime belts along the river, on the roads, and in remote mountain areas, each having distinctive
characteristics. This pattern was based on economic, transportation, and cultural differences in these areas, and these
factors will undergo fundamental changes in the course of this project. Belts along rivers and roads, which originally
had the most crime and most complex public security environment, will be enlarged. Both the intensity and scope
of problems in these areas will increase. Along with the expansion of the water area, water transportation, fishing,
aquaculture, and tourism will develop rapidly. Crimes committed by thieves and pirates living off this water network
will be especially visible, and criminals will have more opportunities for action. This greatly increases the difficulty
of controlling and preventing crime. With the relocation of a million people toward the mountains and the creation
of cities and towns along the shore, the population around the reservoir will become even denser, and the golden
shore will see the emergence of an even more complex security environment.
IV. The Attention of the International Community
The Three Gorges project has attracted international attention. Friends around the world praise the
magnificent aspiration of the Chinese people, and will undoubtedly provide help and support by a variety of means.
At the same time, however, hostile domestic and foreign forces show great "interest" in the Three Gorges project.
They use mass media instruments such as television, radio, newspapers or wind-carried leaflets to defame the Three
Gorges project, or spy out information on the project and the population relocation under the cover of legal activities
such as tourism, visiting relatives, or news reporting. According to statistics from the heart of the project, Wanxian
Prefecture, alone, more than twice as many spies and agents were sent by hostile international forces from January
to August 1992 as in the whole year of 1991. The "Democratic Youth Party", a counterrevolutionary clique
comprising a network of 179 members that was uncovered and seized by the public security bureau in Kai County
in May 1992, was a well-organized group that had been carrying out counterrevolutionary activities aimed at
sabotaging the policy of opening and reform and at disrupting the smooth progress of the Three Gorges project.
V. Proposed Public Security Counter-measures in the Three Gorges Area
It cannot be denied that it is an objective necessity that the Three Gorges project and the relocation of the
population of the reservoir area will bring about a fundamental change in public security patterns. The purpose of
recognizing this objective necessity is, through analysis and prediction, to formulate appropriate countermeasures
in order to control and reduce incidence and development of the above problems, create a healthy public security
environment for the Three Gorges project, and ensure a smooth process of construction and relocation. From an
objective consideration of the situation, we believe that the countermeasures to public security problems in the Three
Gorges area should be based on historical characteristics of this world-class project, and specific measures should
be guided by the policy of "strengthening leadership, thinking in the long term, taking the entire situation into
consideration, and comprehensive control."
1. Powerful political and complete legal safeguards are the basic guarantee of the smooth implementation
of the Three Gorges project and the relocation of the population. The Three Gorges project involves five prefectures
in Hubei and Sichuan provinces. The current administrative structure is ill-suited to meet the needs of construction
and relocation work. A Three Gorges special administrative region should be established along with a special
organization to direct public security work in the area. The central government and Three Gorges special
administrative region should put on their agenda of important matters public security work following changes in the
public security pattern of the area. They should conduct full investigations and verification, and formulate practical
and effective countermeasures. The state should proceed from an understanding of the actual facts and enact a
complete set of laws and regulations in order to adjust the new relationships developing with the Three Gorges
project and accompanying relocation so as to assure that in all matters there are laws and regulations to follow.
2. Speeding up the process of reform and opening, invigorating the economy in the Three Gorges area, and
establishing a sound material foundation is the economic guarantee of a fundamental stabilization of public order
in this area. Public security and the development of the economy through reform and opening are two sides of the
same coin; they complement and promote each other. A healthy public security environment spurs the development
of the economy, while the development of the economy is a prerequisite of stable social order. People in the Three
Gorges area should emancipate their minds more, reform their old viewpoints, expand opening, speed up reform,
coordinate with domestic and foreign partners, fully exploit the comparative advantages of local resources, efficiently
and imaginatively use the policies and funds of developmental relocation, and be self-reliant and hard working in
order to promote the take-off of the Three Gorges economy.
3. We should vigorously promote a spirit of contribution among the people of the Three Gorges area and
create an atmosphere of support and concern for the Three Gorges project. The Three Gorges project is a historic feat
that will benefit our descendants and all of mankind. The media should not only publicize the significance of the
project itself, but also focus especially on the enormous sacrifices and contributions made by the people of the Three
Gorges area. They should help more people understand, care for, and support the Three Gorges project and its people.
At the same time, they should instill in the people of the area a warm love for the Three Gorges project and an
enthusiasm for its construction, in order to strengthen the psychological fortitude of the relocatees.
4. We should incorporate public security problems into a systematic process in which the whole Party is
involved and implement comprehensive control. The Three Gorges project and population relocation is an
unprecedented project with implications in the areas of politics, economics, law, and culture. For this reason, the
public security problems that may occur are complicated. Thus we must, in accordance with the new patterns of
public security in the area and under the leadership of the Party and government at every level, use varied legal,
political, economic, and administrative methods to make public security part of a systematic process and implement
comprehensive control. When it comes to specific matters, we should truly implement the principle that "whoever
is in charge should be responsible", put all kinds of protective measures into effect, predict problems in advance of
their occurring, and devise countermeasures in order to solve potential public security problems at an early stage,
solve them within the administrative apparatus, and solve them at the basic level.
5. Public security organs must resolutely adhere to the concept of safeguarding the course of the Three
Gorges project and fully carry out their duties. First, they should adopt strong measures to forcefully attack serious
criminal activities. In particular, they should resolutely uphold the policy of speed and severity in striking timely
blows at crimes and criminals that sabotage Three Gorges construction and relocation. Public security organs should
make careful plans to properly handle public security problems and mass disturbances arising from relocation. They
should strengthen all aspects of professional public security work, improve work methods and style, and increase
the fighting effectiveness of the ranks. Second, the public security organs should strengthen their investigation and
research and go deeply into those regions and towns that will be major areas of relocation as well as major work units
involved in the project to study new trends and problems of public security and formulate appropriate concrete
The state should take immediate steps to remedy the public security organs' inadequacy to the needs of the
struggle in the areas of organization, policing capability, and equipment. First, a public security and state security
organ capable of unified command should be established in the reservoir region, and in accordance with the particular
characteristics of the area an aquatic public security sub-bureau should be established and the number of police
substations on the water increased. Second, number of personnel should be increased, and policing capability
established that is appropriate to its responsibilities. Third, the Ministry of Public Security and Ministry of State
Security should follow the directive of the center on cooperation between central and local organs and provide
transportation, communications, and technical investigation facilities in order to meet the combat-readiness needs
of all units in the Three Gorges area.
On The Public Security Situation
In The Three Gorges Area
(Internal Report of February 1994 by Officials of the
Hubei Province Yichang Municipal Public Security Bureau)
Following the passage by the National People's Congress of the resolution to construct the Three Gorges
project, the countdown has begun. An important guarantee of the project is the public security system. How to bring
it into play is an issue that has naturally attracted the attention of the people of the whole country, especially public
security and security defense departments. For this reason, it is vital to examine the prospects for the public security
situation in the Three Gorges region (including the dam region, the reservoir region, and the surrounding areas) and
to propose appropriate measures.
I. Factors Related to Public Security in the Three Gorges Region
The Three Gorges project is an epic hydraulic undertaking that will necessarily bring political, economic,
and social changes to the Three Gorges region. Broad changes in all sectors of society will have an immense impact
on the nature, level and speed of evolution of all aspects of public security in the Three Gorges region.
A. Factors Having a Positive Effect on Public Security
1. The scientific and cautious attitude of the Party Central toward the Three Gorges project. The process of
decision in the Three Gorges project has throughout been scientific and democratic. From its first exposition in the
1950s, forty years passed before a final decision was reached. The scale of the preliminary work, the length of time
it took, and the depth of research and proof are all rare in China or abroad. The scientific decision both established
a firm foundation for the success of the project and avoided in a fundamental way public security problems that
would result from an erroneous decision.
2. Creative relocation policies. The Party Central conscientiously summed up the lessons taught by the
experience of relocation over the years. It rejected the traditional practice of simple resettlement and compensation.
To the million relocatees in the Three Gorges, it clearly advanced the policy of "developmental relocation" (kaifaxing
yimin). This policy changes loss-oriented compensation into development-oriented creation; it turns relief payments
into production assistance. It joins together the resettlement of relocatees and construction and economic
development in the reservoir area, opening a new road with Chinese characteristics for the resettlement of relocatees.
Both in China and abroad, this is a great creation in the history of hydroelectric project construction and relocation
of persons in the reservoir area. This creative relocation policy has played a key role in reducing social unrest brought
about by mass relocation and guaranteeing social stability in the reservoir area.
3. The great economic benefits of the Three Gorges project. The Three Gorges project is a key water control
project that brings great benefits in flood control, electricity generation, and navigation. Its completion will speed
progress toward the Four Modernizations, raise overall national strength, and bring in its train economic development
over a broad range. Such huge economic benefits supply a strong material basis for stable social order not only in
the Three Gorges region, but over the whole country.
4. The support of the people of the Three Gorges region for the construction of the Three Gorges dam. The
people who have lived and multiplied on the banks of the Three Gorges have been looking forward to the
construction of the dam for several generations. That the masses of the people in the Three Gorges area are willing
to sacrifice their own interests and loyally support the Three Gorges project is a vitally important guarantee of
successfully accomplishing public security work in the region.
5. The importance placed by the leadership at all levels on public security in the Three Gorges region. The
Three Gorges project is the most magnificent project of the Chinese people. Public security work, which will ensure
that the project is carried out smoothly, naturally has received a high degree of attention from the leadership at all
levels. In January 1993, the Ministry of Public Security specially issued a document approving the establishment of
the Three Gorges Dam Region Sub-Bureau of the Yichang City Public Security Bureau. The leadership of the Three
Gorges Development General Company, which is responsible for the construction of the Three Gorges project, also
earnestly look forward to the strengthening of public security work in the Three Gorges region by political-legal
organs and public security departments.
B. Factors Having a Negative Effect on Public Security
Factors that could have a negative, harmful effect on public security in the Three Gorges region comes from
various sources such as politics, economics, and ideology. It is necessary to note, however, that the negative factors
discussed here are not fixed and unchangeable. With the promulgation and implementation of a series of policies and
measures, the negativity of these factors will gradually decrease and may even become positive.
1. Harmful Influences from the Realm of Politics
(a) Influence of international factors. The policy toward the outside world of the Three Gorges project is one
of opening and relaxation. While this will attract advanced technology and facilities as well as investors and tourists
from abroad, it will at the same time provide an opening through which the corrupt ideology and culture of the
bourgeoisie and international crime can enter. All kinds of international criminal activity will seep into the Three
Gorges region. This international environment, which is harmful to public security, will exist for a long time. To
resist and eliminate its malign influence is a long-term task of ours.
(b) Sabotage by domestic reactionary forces. Enemy elements hostile to socialism that still exist within the
country and international reactionary forces, acting in coordination, use all kinds of methods to oppose the people's
democratic dictatorship, to sabotage the socialist revolution and construction, and to sabotage social order. The Three
Gorges project will necessarily become an important target of theirs.
(c) Harmful factors left over from history. The political situation of the dam region has historically been very
complex. In addition to official Kuomintang influence, the activities of religious groups and reactionary sectarian
organizations (zongjiao he fandong hui-daomen) are extremely vigorous. The complex political base of society is
a harmful influence on public security work around the dam.
2. Negative Factors Arising from Economic Activities
(a) The Three Gorges project has become an experiment in the construction of extra-large projects within
the socialist market economy. All kinds of economic constituents will have a role to play in the Three Gorges project.
The economic interests of social groups will inevitably conflict, and the accumulation and sharpening of these
conflicts and contradictions will constitute a grave threat to public security.
(b) The Three Gorges reservoir region remains to this day one of the country's fourteen poorest regions. The
market economy brought by the Three Gorges project will create a great shock wave. This will bring about a sudden
change in the semi-feudal economy of this region, and economic development will take off. Because of differences
in people's cognitive abilities, and because Chinese have a tendency to jump on the bandwagon and follow the crowd,
plunging recklessly into things, there is a real possibility that some areas will experience economic overheating. This
will influence the stability of social order in these areas.
(c) The vast investment and great material requirements of the Three Gorges project, as well as the great
amount of investment by various investors in economic construction in the Three Gorges region, will mean a great
amount of capital in circulation. As the point of collection and disbursement for a large amount of money and
materials, the Three Gorges region will necessarily become a coveted target of criminals.
3. The Shock from the Realm of Ideology
(a) The establishment of the socialist market economy is a revolution in the realm of people's thinking. At
the same time that it spurs social development, the market economy produces a very obvious negative effect on
people's thinking. Some people will be money worshippers. The Three Gorges project will be a strong stimulus to
the material desires of these people. These "gold-panners" will come to the Three Gorges with the dream of becoming
rich. This desire to seek money at all costs will lead some people to put the law to the test.
(b) The Three Gorges region will become another window of China's opening to the outside, and bourgeois
culture from abroad will also take this opportunity to seep in. The ideology and lifestyle of loving leisure and hating
work, mutual trickery, harming others to benefit oneself, rottenness and decadence, "sexual liberation," and "sexual
freedom" will have a strong effect on people's thinking. This subtle and imperceptible corrosion is an important
element in encouraging crime.
(c) Following the commencement of the project, a great construction army of hundreds of thousands of
persons will come to the area. This great influx will not only put great pressure on the service sector for living
necessities, but will also, because of the inability of construction of cultural and recreational facilities to meet the
demand in a short period of time, mean a deficient cultural life. This cultural thirst will provide an opening to all
kinds of low-class, vulgar culture and ugly social phenomena.
(d) The constructors of the Three Gorges project will come from all areas of the country: some from the
coast, some from inland; some from big cities, some from poor and isolated regions. There will be great differences
in individual qualities. The differences among these people from the four corners of the country in terms of ways of
thinking, lifestyle, educational level, etc. will bring about a psychological intolerance among them. In the absence
of appropriate, effective adjustments, this intolerance could develop into psychological conflict, and the
externalization of psychological conflict will result in serious security problems.
4. Harmful Influences from Social Life
(a) The population problem. The construction of the Three Gorges project will put the population problem
of the Three Gorges region squarely before us. Over the next decade and some, the population of the Three Gorges
region will be greatly increased not only by the natural and automatic rise in the current population, but also by
constructors and tourists coming in from outside. The "Sichuan Army" constitutes a definite proportion of the tide
of migrant laborers sweeping across the country. The Three Gorges project will cause these people to "make a quick
turn and counterthrust" (shahui maqiang) back in this direction. It will also attract migrant laborers from all over the
country to blindly flow into the Three Gorges region. All this will increase the population pressure within the Three
Gorges region. With a given crime rate, an increase in population implies an increase in the absolute number of
crimes. The vast majority of the floating population carry their property with them, and this increases the
opportunities for crime. The movement of a great number of people gives roving criminals the opportunity to mingle
among them. This will bring an increase in the number of crimes committed by such criminals and is a threat to
public security. The great majority of relocatees in the Three Gorges region will be moved upward and backward
(jiudi houkao) in the same area, and this will increase the population density of the areas of resettlement. Within the
dam area and its principal source of supplies for daily life, Yichang City, the population density will increase even
more markedly. Living conditions will be very crowded and the frequency of friction, contradictions, and conflicts
between people will increase. This will necessarily result in an increased crime rate and deterioration of security.
(b) Various corrupt phenomena will cause dissatisfaction on the part of the broad masses and will be an
important factor contributing to the lack of social peace.
(c) The lack of diversity of systems for [crime] prevention. Its main manifestations are that the ideology of
[crime] prevention is insufficiently strong among the masses, the role of basic level prevention organizations has not
been brought fully into play, all sectors of society lack a notion of comprehensive prevention, the work of exercising
comprehensive control over public security has not been fully implemented, and the prevention work of all of society
still relies on a single functional department [i.e. the police] going into battle alone. Having only a single system of
[crime] prevention causes a decrease in the power to control society and a broadening of the scope of lost control.
It makes it difficult to stay in control of the public security situation.
5. Problems Arising from Relocatees
(a) The problem of moving. The majority of relocatees support the Three Gorges project and want to sacrifice
for it. Some relocatees, however, are attached to the soil and unwilling to move. Even less are they willing to move
twice. A few relocatees have even made unreasonable demands and refused to move. These "nail households" (dingzi
hu) have brought difficulties to relocation work and can also cause security problems.
(b) The problem of compensation. The number of relocatees in the Three Gorges is large and the scope of
relocation is broad. Because the circumstances in each place are different, the compensation received by each
relocated household is unlikely to meet their expectations. Relocatees who believe that their compensation is
insufficient will become antagonistic. Because the standard for compensation in the dam area is different from that
in the reservoir area (those in the dam area receive more), there will be contradictions between relocatees living along
the border between the two areas. Each locality implements in a different way the unified state standard for
compensation for relocation. Some pass it all on to the relocatees themselves. Others hold back a portion to be used
for organizing production, starting up enterprises, and settling relocatees. This will create differences among
relocatees in the actual amount received. These types of local variations in policy can very easily be a source of
discontent among relocatees.
(c) The problem of settlement. The banks of the Three Gorges have traditionally been places of little land
and large population. With the backward and upward movement of large numbers of relocatees, the problem of the
insufficiency of land resources will become more acute. There will be a great gap between the high expectations of
the relocatees with respect to the relocation program and the capacity of the land to meet the needs of resettlement
and production. This gap will exacerbate the mood of dissatisfaction. There will be a great amount of surplus labor
among the relocatees. Although they will hope to get jobs in factories, the number of people that enterprises can take
is limited. Thus, they will have to turn to some other non-agricultural occupation and flow into the cities, increasing
pressure on metropolitan areas, adding to social problems, and creating a latent disaster for public security.
(d) The problem of the quality of the population of relocatees. The level of the social forces of production
in the Three Gorges region is relatively low, the level of education is low, and the cultural quality of the population
is not high. This situation causes problems not only in the moving and compensation of relocatees, but also in their
settlement. This is because their prospects for employment are limited due to their lack of a certain level of education
and labor skills. From the standpoint of the age structure of the relocatees, the proportion occupied by the young and
adolescents is relatively large. This age cohort is one in which unlawful and criminal acts are relatively frequent. This
point must not escape our attention.
II. A Forecast of the Future Public Security Situation in the Three Gorges Region
From the above analysis, we may attain an initial understanding of the various factors influencing the public
security situation in the Three Gorges region. These factors have determined the direction of development of the
public security situation in the Three Gorges region and enable us to make a forecast based upon them. Here, we will
use the method of analyzing the essential nature [of problems] to look at the prospects for the public security situation
in the Three Gorges region.
Generally speaking, with the progress of the Three Gorges project, various factors beneficial to public
security will play the main role, and various factors harmful to public security can, through energetic efforts, be
weakened, eliminated, or even turned into beneficial factors. Therefore, when viewed as a whole, public security in
the Three Gorges region will be generally stable, and it will remain in step with the public security situation in the
whole country. However, in making forecasts about public security in the Three Gorges region, we should have an
of deep concern. We must be aware of crests and troughs in the overall stability of public security and look out for
A. Mass Disturbances that May Occur with a Direct Influence on Public Security
1. Social contradictions caused by issues of compensation and settlement among relocatees, if not
appropriately handled, can easily lead to collective resistance by relocatees. At present, acts such as collective
petitioning and collective blocking of construction have already taken place among the relocatees of the dam area.
Relocatees are a special social group bound together by a common interest. They are extremely sensitive: a small
matter can lead to a serious incident. Past incidents that have occurred among relocatees, such as demonstrations,
storming Party and government organs, surrounding and attacking Party and government leaders, and seizing food
to eat, can occur again. This possibility can by no means be taken lightly.
2. The density of the population of the Three Gorges region increases the likelihood of friction between
people and will lead to armed clashes between groups (jiti xiedou). Local residents and those who come from the four
corners of the country to participate in construction will form into a number of interest groups. Conflicts are
inevitable between various groups -- one group of relocatees versus another, relocatees versus residents in their place
of resettlement, relocatees versus construction teams, construction teams versus local residents where they live, and
so forth. If these conflicts are not handled in a timely and appropriate manner, they will develop to the extreme point
where resort to arms is inevitable. Already, in January of 1993, one armed fight involving over 300 persons occurred
in the vicinity of the dam. We must prepare to prevent and handle large-scale armed fights.
3. Incidents of mass theft of construction materials may occur. The Three Gorges project will require vast
amounts of materials of all kinds. How to strengthen their safeguarding during shipment and storage is an important
issue. A wave of mass theft of materials transported by rail and road has occurred in the Three Gorges region. If
preventive measures are not quickly undertaken, there is a possibility that materials for the construction of the Three
Gorges project will also be subject to mass theft.
B. The Problem of Crime Will Become More Acute
1. Types of Crimes
(a) Violent crimes characterized by violations of public safety and the personal safety of citizens will become
more serious. During construction of the Three Gorges project, for reasons such as the exacerbation of all kinds of
conflicts and disputes between individuals, the enmity and desire for revenge against society on the part of some
individuals, the strong desire for money and goods, and the influence of international terrorist activities, crimes such
as blowing up, murder, kidnapping, and injuring will increase in number, scale of injury, and cruelty of method.
(b) Of all types of crimes, the main type remains crimes characterized chiefly by the violation of public and
private property. The concentration of wealth brought with the Three Gorges project is a strong lure for certain
people. The lust for wealth makes them willing to use all kinds of criminal means to grab wealth. Theft, robbery,
fraud, blackmail, extortion, and other crimes of all kinds will greatly increase in number.
(c) Crimes of rape and hooliganism, chiefly of a sexual nature, will continue to occur frequently for a long
period of time. A large number of male workers from all parts of the country are concentrated in the Three Gorges
region. If close attention is not paid to education in spiritual civilization, there will be a large number of sex crimes.
(d) Crimes previously rare in the Three Gorges region will occur in great numbers. The large amount of
mineral reserves in the Three Gorges dam area has created the conditions for gold smuggling, and such cases will
surely increase. The Three Gorges region is the birthplace of the Chu and Ba civilizations. The forebears of the
Chinese nation left for us on this soil a large number of relics and artifacts. With the building of the dam and the
moving of these relics and artifacts, crimes of theft and smuggling will certainly occur. The Three Gorges provides
a place for meeting and exchange for people from all regions, and also provides hospitable conditions for the spread
of all kinds of crimes. Crimes that occur in coastal regions but are rare in inland regions, such as smuggling, drug
selling, and trade in guns, will also occur in the Three Gorges region.
2. Methods of Crimes
(a) Development in the direction of knowledge and information technology. Criminals have enhanced their
planning before committing crimes. During the commission of the crime, they use tricks to avoid discovery,
employing modern methods of communications and transportation as well as chemical and electronic technology
to resist the public security organs.
(b) Increased tendency toward violence. The demonstration effect exerted in the Three Gorges region by
international terrorist activities and by exceptionally large violent crimes that occur domestically, together with the
increase in the number of desperate criminals, both contribute to a growing trend in the use of violent criminal
(c) Increased prominence of serial crimes. The psychology of the habitual criminal and the incentive structure
formed over a long period of committing crimes make such criminals use the same type of method to infringe the
same type of object. As habitual criminals increase in number, the Three Gorges region will see an increase in the
prominence of serial theft, serial fraud, serial injury, and serial murder.
3. Composition of Criminals
(a) A large proportion of crimes will be committed by outsiders. The increase in the number of outsiders in
the Three Gorges region will naturally result in an increase in the proportion of crimes committed by outsiders. Here
we are speaking not only of what the public security organs specifically refer to as roving criminals, but also of
crimes in the usual sense that are committed by outsiders.
(b) Organized crime will become more serious. Formerly loose criminal groups will become tightly
structured criminal gangs, and will evolve into mafia-type organizations (heishehui shili). People in the Three
Gorges region are characterized by the fact that they come from all parts of the country; thus, it will not be surprising
if there appear criminal groups with the characteristics of feudal brotherhoods organized on the basis of home region.
(c) Crime by those outside the country must not be underestimated. The Three Gorges project has become
the object of the covetous gaze of criminals from outside the country. The development of water, land, and air
transportation has shrunk distances and made it convenient to go back and forth across the border. Crimes committed
by those outside the country have already occurred in the coastal regions; it is impossible that they will not extend
into the Three Gorges region.
4. Spatial Distribution of Crime
(a) The dam region will become a central area for sabotage by domestic and foreign reactionary forces and
by criminals harboring a strong desire for revenge on society.
(b) Crimes in the reservoir area will continue to increase.
(c) Areas where the project workers live, tourist areas along the Three Gorges, and towns that are moved and
newly constructed will see a high incidence of crimes of all types.
(d) Areas surrounding the project work site will see a high incidence of crimes of theft.
(e) The water and land routes of the Three Gorges project will become the main target of highway robbers
and pirates; crimes along water and land routes will increase greatly.
C. All Kinds of Security Problems Will Occur in Great Numbers
1. Fights in crowded public places will become common.
2. If hostels are not carefully controlled, they could become hiding places for contraband.
3. The great amount of dangerous [explosive] materials poses a latent threat to security.
4. A loss of control over the large temporary population will have grave consequences.
5. The gambling craze will continue, and prostitution will increase dramatically.
The Banqiao and Shimantan Dam Disasters
nb: The following summary by Human Rights Watch/Asia of two dam disasters in China is based upon a
wide range of officially and unofficially published documentary sources. The collapse of the two dams is
a good example of how the lack of public debate and freedom of expression resulted in an economic and
social catastrophe. Instead of heeding the warnings of water conservancy experts, the Chinese
leadership was more concerned about following Chairman Mao's dictum that bigger was better. The
result was a death toll that may have been as high as 230,000. The relevance to the debate over the
Three Gorges dam is obvious.
There are three main documentary sources on the Banqiao and Shimantan dam collapses of August 1975.
The first the contemporary official Chinese press carried no reports on any aspect whatsoever of the Banqiao-
Shimantan tragedy, an absence which today speaks volumes. While China is now considerably more open in
most respects than it was twenty years ago, any assessment of the degree of transparency and accountability that
may be expected from the Chinese authorities in the event of serious problems arising from the Three Gorges
project should take full account of the government's extraordinary, decade-long news blackout on the Banqiao-
Shimantan disaster. To this day, the incident remains almost completely unknown about outside of China;
domestically, even those Chinese who are aware of it still have little idea of the actual scale of the fatalities
caused. So far as is known, the incident has never been publicly raised in any government-sponsored debate over
the past decade and more on the future of the Three Gorges project.
The pages of the official Henan Daily, in August 1975, were filled with articles extolling the "heroic
struggles" of the People's Liberation Army and of the local population in combatting heavy flooding in Henan
Province; and frequent mention was made of their successful efforts to prevent the collapses of several other
dams, including those at Baiguishan and Boshan, which lay in the immediate vicinity of the real disaster zone.
But the names of Banqiao and Shimantan themselves were effectively airbrushed from the public record: there
appears to be no mention anywhere in the contemporary official press of the catastrophic dam collapses, and not
a word about the massive human casualties that ensued. In March 1979, the Huai River Water Resources
Committee of the Ministry of Water Resources and Electric Power produced an internal document titled "Report
on an Investigation into the August 1975 Rainstorms and Flooding in the Hong-Ru and Shaying River-System of
the Huai River Valley." The report, however, was never made public and no copy has so far been found.
The second main documentary source on the Henan dam disasters is a small series of articles which
appeared, between 1985 and 1989, in several extremely limited-circulation prc books and journals devoted to
hydropower technology. In these, the figures officially given for the total number of persons affected by the
resulting floods and for the overall number of fatalities ranged, respectively, from "12.6 million stricken
and...almost 30,000 dead (of which 80 per cent were caused by the Banqiao Dam collapse)" to "10.29 million
stricken and...nearly 100,000 dead." In 1986, the government commenced plans (apparently in the face of
widespread local opposition) for the reconstruction of Banqiao Dam, and in 1993 the completion of the new dam
was formally announced.
The most disturbing account of the disaster to be published during the late 1980s was the following brief
passage, which appeared in a 1987 volume titled "On Macro-Decision Making in the Three Gorges Project":
In the great Yangtze River floods of 1954, as we know, 30,000 people died. Situated on the upper
reaches of the Huaihe River in Wuyang County, Henan Province, the reservoirs behind the Banqiao Dam
and Shimantan Dam had a total water-holding capacity of only 600 million cubic meters. In an accident
which occurred there in August 1975, the sudden and violent escape of this water resulted in the deaths
of approximately 230,000 people.
The eight authors of the article Qiao Peixin, Sun Yueqi, Lin Hua, Qian Jiaju, Wang Xingrang, Lei
Tianjue, Xu Chi and Lu Qinkan are all leading opponents of the Three Gorges dam and among China's top elite
of experts on water-conservancy science and technology. In 1987, all were either vice-chairmen, standing-
committee members or regular members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (cppcc), the
highest government advisory body in the land. As such, they presumably had access to internal government
documents on the 1975 Henan dam disasters (including perhaps the confidential Huai River Water Resources
Committee report of March 1979.) The eight experts went on to draw a telling comparison between the events of
1975 and the overall potential for damage posed by the government's latest megaproject:
The Three Gorges flood-prevention reservoir area will have a maximum water-storage capacity of
between 22 and 27 billion cubic meters [i.e., approximately forty times greater than that of the Banqiao
and Shimantan reservoirs combined]....If a disaster like the one which struck the Banqiao Reservoir were
ever to occur in the case of the Three Gorges dam for example, a sudden, high-technology air strike
such as that launched by the United States against Libya in 1986 then a giant torrent of anywhere
between 200,000 and 300,000 cubic meters of water per second would come cascading straight down
toward the cities of Wuhan and Changsha. The scope of the catastrophe and the scale of fatalities would
be almost unimaginable.
In 1993, in a speech delivered overseas, Dai Qing indicated what in her view was the starting-point for
estimates of the total fatalities arising from the Banqiao-Shimantan dam disasters: "Another dam collapse, the
largest one in the world, happened in August 1975: the "Qi-Wu Ba" Incident. Among the tens of thousands of
reservoirs [in China], these two were designed to withstand 1000-year and 500-year floods. Unfortunately, in
1975, there was a 2000-year one. When the dams collapsed, 85,000 people died, as the government announced,
in two hours."
The latter death-toll figure, which is the highest thus far announced by the Chinese government for the
August 1975 incident, appeared in the first volume of an important study published by the Ministry of Water
Resources and Electric Power in July 1989. The book was published in what for China was a minuscule print-
run of only 1,500 copies, however, so few Chinese beyond the confines of the Ministry's own staff bureaucracy
would ever have seen it. Apparently, however, even this limited degree of public access to the facts of the
incident was viewed by Beijing as being too fraught with political risk, for in the second volume of the study,
published in January 1992 (that is, just prior to the crucial npc vote on the future of the Three Gorges project),
the death-toll from the Banqiao-Shimantan disaster was revised sharply downwards, to read "26,000 drowned."
An out-of-sequence footnote, clearly added just prior to publication, informed the reader that "the figure of
85,600 dead...which appeared in Volume 1 was an error (wu)." No attempt was made to explain the startling
discrepancy, and the twenty-five page article contained no more than this one, solitary line of reference to the
appalling human cost of the disaster.
The third main source on the Banqiao-Shimantan incident, and by far the most detailed, is an
unpublished investigative account of the incident that was written by a well-known mainland journalist using the
pseudonym "Yi Si." According to the author, the August 1975 series of dam collapses was a "horrific historical
episode caused by a complex intertwining of natural and man-made factors of disaster" and one which "should be
etched upon the minds of all civilized people as a lesson and warning for the future." At the outset, Yi Si cites the
official (though later withdrawn) death toll of "more than 85,000," but he goes on to reveal that this figure was
presented on the government's behalf by Qian Zhengying, then head of the Ministry of Water Resources and
Electric Power. It seems clear from Yi Si's account as a whole, moreover, that this estimate included only those
killed during the period immediately following the dams' actual collapse namely, the "two hours" or so referred
to by Dai in her 1993 speech. Most of the additional 145,000 deaths implicit in the eight cppcc members' figure
of 230,000 appear to have occurred later, in the course of the horrendous health epidemics and famine which
affected the stricken area in the days and weeks after the initial catastrophe.
The Banqiao and Shimantan dams were constructed in the early 1950s on the basis of fairly rigorous
technical specifications supplied by the Soviets. The Shimantan Dam was designed to accommodate 50-year-
frequency major downpours and to survive 500-year-frequency catastrophic flooding; and the Banqiao Dam, to
accommodate 100-year major downpours and 1000-year catastrophic floods. As Yi Si notes, "In terms of the
quality of engineering, there were no major technical problems with the dams." The successful construction of
the two dams encouraged the Party leadership subsequently to launch a full-scale policy of "taking water storage
as the key link" (yi xu wei zhu) in China's water conservancy work; over the period 1958-59, more than a hundred
small or medium-sized dams sprang up in the Henan region alone. Warning voices were raised, however,
including that of Chen Xing, one of the country's foremost water conservancy experts. Chen was the designer of
Suya Lake Reservoir, which lay just east of Banqiao and Shimantan and was at that time the largest reservoir
project in Asia.
As Chen pointed out, the leadership's growing fixation with the idea of "taking water storage as the key
link" namely, with pursuing dam and reservoir construction on a massive scale was resulting in a widespread
national neglect of other vital water conservancy work. This included the dredging of riverbeds, maintaining
dikes, and creating flood diversionary channels and large temporary storage zones to accommodate the
exceptional quantities of water that might result from sudden, freakish weather events. Moreover, he argued, the
accumulation of vast quantities of water in numerous fixed locations throughout Henan Province would raise the
water-table beyond safe levels, contributing to over-salination of the soil, and would create serious waterlogging
of agricultural land. Above all, the neglect of proper flood diversion channels in the notoriously confined Huai
River basin, in the belief that the dams by themselves would suffice to contain even 1000-year downpours, could,
Chen stressed, lead to disaster if any dam collapses occurred for there would be nowhere for the released water
to go. If a full public debate on the construction of the dams had been possible, Chen's arguments that the
leadership's almost exclusive focus on "storing water" amounted to the simplistic adoption of a false and
potentially dangerous panacea might have been heeded. But it proved to be one more instance where the lack of
freedom of expression in China resulted in an economic and social disaster.
Chen Xing had direct and bitter experience of misguided government interference in the dam projects
under his direction. At the time of the Suya Lake Reservoir construction in 1958 the start of the Great Leap
Forward, a deputy head of the Henan Province water conservancy department had criticized his designs for the
dam as being "too conservative." In defiance of hydrological safety standards, the official had arbitrarily cut the
number of sluice gates in the dam from an originally planned twelve to only five. Similarly, in the case of the
Bantai emergency flood-dividing gates on the border of Henan and Anhui provinces, officials cut the number of
sluice openings from nine to seven, and then later blocked off an additional two out of those that remained. Such
"radical" design alterations had been prompted by Chairman Mao's dictum that economic planners should
emulate the "Sputnik model" by aiming at increasingly "higher and higher" targets; water-conservancy officials
interpreted this to mean still more and bigger dams, and an increased reliance upon "taking water storage as the
key link." When Chen criticized these policies as bringing "a scourge on the people and a threat to the economy"
(lao min shang cai), he was denounced by Party officials as a "right-wing opportunist element" and purged from
Precautionary features built into the original design of the Banqiao and Shimantan dams might still have
sufficed to prevent their collapse and forestall the southern Henan flood disaster of August 1975, however, had
certain "man-made factors" not been allowed to intervene. But by then, the persistence of the "key link" policy
had led to the construction of a further 100 or so dams throughout the province and to extensive reclamation and
settlement of large tracts of land which had historically been left bare for flood diversionary purposes. Moreover,
it had led to so serious a neglect of all other water-conservancy measures in the region that, as Yi Si notes, "The
emergency floodwater drainage capacity of the Hong and Ru rivers [the chief local tributaries of the Huai River]
had not only failed to rise, but had actually declined with each passing year." Sometime prior to the disaster a
1.9-meter-high earthen ramp was added on to the Shimantan Dam summit to increase its overall holding
capacity. At Banqiao, the largest of the two dams, officials authorized an additional retention of no less than
thirty-two million cubic meters of water in excess of the dam's designed safe capacity. With the arrival of
"Typhoon No.7503" over mainland China from the direction of Taiwan on August 4, 1975, therefore, all bets
were off for the people of Henan, for the storm turned out to be nothing less than a "once in 2000 years"
catastrophic weather event.
Typhoons from the South China Sea usually expend themselves quickly upon reaching the China
mainland. Typhoon No.7503, however, coincided both with an exceptional northward atmospheric surge from
the southern hemisphere, originating in the vicinity of Australia, and with a series of unusual climatic events then
taking place in the Western Pacific; the net result was that No.7503 raced with ever increasing force through the
southern provinces of Jiangxi and Hunan and then took a sharp northerly turn straight in the direction of the Huai
River basin. The storm hit southern Henan Province at 2:00 P.M. on August 5. In the initial torrential downpour,
which lasted for ten hours, a total of 448.1 millimeters of rain fell on the region, around forty per cent more than
the heaviest previous rainfall on record. The water level at the Banqiao Dam rose to 107.9 meters, bringing it
close to maximum capacity. The sluice gates were opened, but they were found to be partially blocked by
uncleared siltation. Trapped water at the base of the dam further impeded the dam's capacity to empty, so the
water level continued to climb.
The second deluge of rain began at noon the following day and lasted for altogether sixteen hours. The
water level at the Banqiao Dam reached 112.91 meters, more than two meters higher than its designed safe
capacity. All lines of telephone communication with the remote and inaccessible dam site were by now cut. The
third and final torrent of rain began at 4:00 P.M. on August 7 and continued for thirteen hours. At 7:00 P.M. that
evening, the Zhumadian Municipal Revolutionary Committee convened to assess the dangers posed by flooding
to the dams at Suya Lake, Songjiachang, Boshan and elsewhere in the region. The question of the Banqiao Dam,
however, was not even raised: with its high standards of construction, it was held to be an "iron dam" that could
never collapse. By 9:00 P.M., seven smaller dams at Queshan, Xieyang and elsewhere in the area had yielded to
the torrents, followed an hour later by the medium-sized Zhugou Dam; the total number of dam collapses in
Henan Province was to rise to as many as sixty-two before the night was out.
Around the same time, a thin line of people stood strung out across the summit of Banqiao Dam, toiling
waist-deep in water to repair the rapidly-disintegrating crest dike. As Yi Si reports:
Suddenly, a flash of lightning appeared, followed by a massive thunderclap. Someone shouted, "The
water level's going down! The flood's retreating!" For a brief instant, the skies cleared and the stars
appeared again overhead.
Just a few seconds later:
The dam gave way, and 600 million cubic meters of reservoir water erupted with a demonic and
terrifying force. Somewhere, a hoarse old voice cried out, "The River Dragon has come! (Chu Jiaozi!)"
Over the next five hours, a gigantic wall of water travelling at nearly fifty kilometers per hour cascaded
downward over the surrounding valleys and plains, obliterating virtually everything in its path. Shortly
afterwards, the Shimantan Dam also collapsed, to largely similar effect. Entire villages and small towns
disappeared in an instant, with massive ensuing loss of life. A government order issued the previous day to
evacuate local residents had applied only to populations living in the immediate vicinity of Banqiao Dam;
eastward of Shahedian Town, no such evacuations had been carried out. In the Weiwan Brigade of Wencheng
People's Commune, nearly 1,000 people out of a total population of 1,700 were wiped out. The massive Suya
Lake Reservoir, whose emergency sluice gates had been more than halved in number by ardent Maoist officials
many years earlier, successfully withstood Typhoon No.7503, but thanks only to remedial construction work that
had been completed a mere eight days prior to the storm's arrival.
The effects of the immediate aftermath of the disaster were, if anything, more terrible still. The
inundations from the numerous collapsed dams combined with entrapped localized flood waters to form a huge
lake stretching across thousands of square kilometers, either submerging or partially covering countless villages
and small towns. Because of the decades-long official neglect of dike maintenance, river dredging and flood
diversionary systems within the region, there was nowhere for this water to, go and so most of it simply stayed
put. The complete rupture of all transport and communications in the region also meant that emergency
contingents of the pla's 60th Army that were sent in to conduct disaster relief operations were unable to reach,
feed, clothe or otherwise assist most of the survivors for up to two weeks after the initial disaster; medical teams
were similarly helpless in the face of the catastrophic health epidemics that swiftly ensued. According to Yi Si's
August 13: Eastward of Xincai and Pingyu, the water is still rising at a rate of two centimeters an hour.
Two million people across the district are trapped by the water....In Runan, 100,000 who were initially
submerged but somehow survived [by clinging to trees, rooftops, etc] are still floating in the water. In
Shangcai, another 600,000 are surrounded by the flood; 4,000 members of Liudayu Brigade in Huabo
Commune have stripped the trees bare and eaten all the leaves...and 300 people in Huangpu Commune
who had not eaten for six days and seven nights are now consuming dead pigs and other drowned
August 17: There are still 1.1 million people trapped in the water....The disease morbidity rate has
soared. According to incomplete statistics, 1.13 million people have contracted illnesses, including
80,000 in Runan and 250,000 in Pingyu; in Wangdui Commune alone, 17,000 people out of a total
population of 42,000 have fallen ill, and medical staff, despite their best efforts, can only treat 800 cases
August 18: Altogether 880,000 people are surrounded by water in Shangcai and Xincai. Out of 500,000
people in Runan, 320,000 have now been stricken by disease, including 33,000 cases of dysentery, 892
cases of typhoid, 223 of hepatitis, 24,000 of influenza, 3,072 of malaria, 81,000 of enteritis, 18,000 with
high fevers, 55,000 with injuries or wounds, 160 poisoned, 75,000 cases of conjunctivitis, and another
27,000 with other illnesses.
August 21: A total of 370,000 people are still trapped in the water....Fifty to sixty per cent of food
supplies parachuted in by air have all landed in the water, and thirty-seven members of the Dali Brigade
alone who frantically retrieved and consumed rotten pumpkins from the water have fallen ill with food
Some two weeks after the disaster, when the flood waters finally began to retreat in certain areas of
Zhumadian Prefecture, mounds of corpses lay everywhere in sight, rotting and decaying under the hot
On August 12, five days after the Banqiao and Shimantan dam collapses, a team of senior officials sent
by Beijing and led by Vice-Premier Ji Dengkui made an inspection flight over the devastated area in a MIG-8
helicopter. Accompanying Ji on the journey was the hydrology expert Chen Xing, who had slowly worked his
way back to prominence after being purged during the Great Leap Forward for predicting precisely the kind of
disaster that they were now witnessing. The sight of the trapped flood waters confirmed all of Chen's worst fears,
and upon returning to Beijing, he informed a deeply-shaken assembly of government leaders including Vice-
Premier Li Xiannian and Qian Zhengying, Minister of Water Resources, that the only remaining option was to
dynamite several of the major surviving dam projects in Henan so that the flood waters could be released and
allowed to drain away. Two days later, under Chen's direction, the offending dams among them the Bantai
flood-diversionary project whose sluice apertures had earlier, in the name of "taking water storage as the key
link," been reduced from nine to only five were duly blown up.
Some months after the horrifying events of August 1975, Qian Zhengying delivered the keynote speech
to a national conference on dam and reservoir safety that convened in Zhengzhou, the Henan provincial capital.
Responsibility for the collapse of the Banqiao and Shimantan dams lies with the Ministry of Water
Resources, and I personally must shoulder the principal responsibility for what has happened. We did not
do a good job. [Women de gongzuo meiyou zuohao.]
Regarding the full text of Qian's speech, Yi Si comments,
What she failed to say is that, as Chen Xing had pointed out twenty years earlier, the dominant policy of
stressing water storage to the detriment of drainage work was bound inevitably to result in destruction of
the hydrological environment....She also failed to explain why Chen's ideas were rejected at the time and
why he later became the victim of a political purge, only to be brought back again after a major disaster
had struck. On all this, as on the personnel and decision-making systems that caused [the disaster], she
By saying merely, "I personally must shoulder the principal responsibility," moreover, Qian succeeded in
diluting away all of the initiative that should have been taken toward pursuing specific
responsibility up to and including criminal legal responsibility for each and every one of the mistakes
that had occurred. The result was that for the next decade and more, the old policy of blocking rivers and
putting up dams was pursued as blithely as ever before. And then, in 1993, we even had another fine
fellow jumping up and slapping his chest, saying "If anything goes wrong, I'll be responsible."
The author of the remark referred to by Yi was none other than Lu Youmei, chairman of the Three
Gorges Project Development Corporation, the government-established body which will oversee the entire
construction and future operation of the Three Gorges Dam. For her part, Qian Zhengying who has presided
over most of China's dam-building program for the past forty years remains, together with Premier Li Peng, the
chief government proponent of the Yangtze River Three Gorges project.
In July 1994, China's Minister of Defense, Chi Haotian, noted that the devastating earthquake which
struck the northern Chinese city of Tangshan in July 1976, resulting in the deaths of 240,000 people and the
serious wounding of 160,000 others, was "one of the world's ten major disasters in the present century." In the
case of the Banqiao-Shimantan dam disaster of August 1975 which (according to the eight nppcc experts's
report) claimed almost as many lives as those lost in the earthquake of less than a year later but, unlike that
event, was largely a man-made catastrophe the Chinese government has yet publicly and fully to acknowledge
to the outside world that the incident even took place.
PRISON LABOR IN CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS INDUSTRY
[13 labor-reform detachments, 5 labor-
reform brigades, 8 jails; incl. Maliang
Cement Plant and Zhanghuyuan Brick
& Tile Plant]
brick, tile, cement, claystone; prisons
produces 20% of all brick and tile in
Hubei province; Maliang produces
88,000 tons cement/year
Huangshi City Labor Re-education
electric cable; in joint venture with
Huangshi Electric Cable Plant
Hubei New Life Glass Works
plate glass; exported to Europe,
United States and Hong Kong
Hubei No.2 Labor-Reform General
Portland #425 cement; "provincial-
level excellence" award in 1990
Hubei Province New Life Corporation
Province-wide marketing group for
Hubei prison goods
Sichuan New Life Electrical Machinery
Chengdu Municipal Prison
Wangcang Coal and Iron Ore Mine
Wangcang Labor-Reform General
"Jade Emperor"-brand #425 cement
Chongqing New Life Laodong Plant
Chongqing Municipal Prison
galvanized steel wire and electric
Xinkang Asbestos Mine
[Prison located at Shimian City]
Produces twenty per cent of China's
asbestos output; also fibreboard
Huidong Lead and Zinc Mine
Huidong Labor-Reform Detachment
lead and zinc
Jianxin Chemical Plant
Leading producer of base chemicals
for manufacture of dynamite
Pinghe Graphite Mine
Pinghe Labor Re-education Center
Sichuan Binjiang Enterprise
[Office is at Chengdu Municipal Prison]
Province-wide marketing group for
Sichuan prison goods
Duyun Cement Factory
Guiyang Chinaware Factory
red brick, daily-use china, cement
Nanjing City Dalianshan Labor Re-
limestone quarry; produces
"Ninghong" #435 cement; cited by
city in 1990 as "top-quality product"
Yangtze River Cement Corporation
[New conglomerate: includes
Dalianshan Labor Re-ed Center]
regional cement supplier
Nanjing Longtan Cement Factory
Dingshan Cement Factory
Baiju Kilns Plant
Jiangsu No.2 Labor-Reform
Lianhuasi Gravel Factory
Shaanxi No.2 Labor-Reform
Xi'an Jian'an Building Materials Plant
Xi'an Municipal Public Security Bureau
one of largest brick producers in
Shaanxi Xinhan Brick and Tile Factory
brick and tile
Xinshao Marble Factory
Longxi Prison (Hunan No.6)
Pingtang Cement Plant
Pingtang Labor Re-education Center
Henan Zhenhua Glass Factory
Henan Province No.18 Labor-Reform
window glass; marketed nationally
by Xinglong Ind./Com. Corporation
Hailar City Labor Re-education Center
Chifeng Ceramic Tile Factory
Chifeng Labor Re-education Center
ceramic tiles; under investigation by
US Customs for exporting to US
Baotou City Labor Re-education Center
rocks and stones
Shandong Province Hutian Limestone
Hutian Labor-Reform Detachment
Shandong Province Shengjian Basan
Shandong Province No.1 Labor Re-
calcined hard-grog clay (jiaobaoshi)
Shandong Province Shengjian Beishu
Beishu Labor-Reform Detachment
14,000+ tons/year high-carbon and
expandable graphite; exported to
Japan, US and Europe
Heze Shengjian Brick and Tile Factory
Heze Labor-Reform Detachment
glazed clay bricks and tiles
Liaocheng Shengjian Brick and Tile
bricks and tiles
Baihu Farm No.6 Labor-Reform
bricks; prisoner teams do outside
Dalian No.3 Cement Plant
Produces c. 200,000 tons/year of
Portland #325 "Yanzhou" cement
Huazi New Life Cement Plant
Produces c. 300,000 tons/year of
#425 "Jinbei" cement
Dalian Vitrified Quartz and Diabase
Cast Stone Products Plant
Dalian Labor-Reform Detachment
Produces around 30 million clay
bricks and 10,000 tons of quartz-
glass material per year
Yining Enterprise Corporation
Province-wide marketing group for
Liaoning prison goods
New Life White Clay Mine
Mudanjiang Labor-Reform Detachment
Shuangyashan Marble Mine and
Building Stones Quarry
Shuangyashan City Labor Re-education
marble and stone
Haerbin City Yuquan Stone Quarry
Haerbin Xinya Granite Quarry
Fenghuanshan Granite Processing Plant
Yongfeng Stone Quarry
Yongfeng Labor-Reform Detachment
Heilongjiang Yuxin Industrial
[runs prison-labor stone quarry]
Province-wide marketing group for
Heilongjiang prison goods