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Environment and Resettlement Politics in China: The Three Gorges Project

The Three Gorges dam, currently being constructed on the Yantgze River in China, is controversial both inside and outside China, particularly because of the large number of people to be resettled (officially 1.2 million) and the environmental impacts. Using material previously unavailable in any Western language, this project analyses the Chinese discussions over policy-making for the resettlement process and impacts. The analysis concludes that the environment and resettlement policies have been linked in a new way in the Three Gorges project. However, despite these positive developments, the study argues that the social impacts from resettlement have not yet reached a high level of political attention and that the Chinese authorities need to acknowledge that resettlement has social costs. This project provides an understanding of the social, political and economic factors of one of the largest and most controversial development projects currently being implemented. It also sheds light on China's policy-making procedures and political priorities over the past decade.

Project leader: Gørild Heggelund

Project period: 1997-2001


Heggelund, Gørild, 'Running into Dead Ends: Challenges in Researching the Three Gorges Dam'. China Environment Series, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Vol 7, 2005, pp. 79-83.

Heggelund, Gørild, Environment and Resettlement Politics in China: The Three Gorges Project. Hampshire (UK), Ashgate, 2004, 296 p.

Heggelund, Gørild, 'The Three Gorges Dam: Taming the Waters of the Yangtze - Creating Social Instability?'. NIAS nytt Asia Insights, No 2, 2003, pp. 12-14.

Heggelund, Gørild, The Decision-making Process for the Three Gorges Project Resettlement in China. Doctoral thesis, University of Oslo. Oslo, Unipub AS, 2002, 291 p.
 Related focal points of research:

   Chinese energy and environmental politics

Project funding:

   The Research Council of Norway

Recent media coverage:

'China Builds Three Gorges Dam Wall, Prompts Concern', Bloomberg, 19 May 2006.

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