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    Reporters Without Borders said in it’s 2005 special report titled “Xinhua: the world’s biggest propaganda agency”, that “Xinhua remains the voice of the sole party”, “particularly during the SARS epidemic, Xinhua has for last few months been putting out news reports embarrassing to the government, but they are designed to fool the international community, since they are not published in Chinese.”
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Archive for the ‘Yangtze river’ Category

China: Landslide sends 50,000 cubic metres of mountain mass into Yangtze River

Posted by Author on November 27, 2008


by Chris Thomas, SOH Radio Network, on Thursday, November 27th, 2008 –

A massive landslide at the north shore of the Yangtze River in Chongqing city on Sunday has sent 50,000 cubic square metres of gravel into the river causing massive waves.

According to Chongqing Daily News reports, at around 4.40pm on Sunday, a mountain body situated in the city’s Wushan Prefecture, at the mouth of the Wu Gorge on the northshore of the Yangtze River collapsed, with massive amounts of gravel hurling into the river, sending up large amounts of dust which covered nearby regions also creating huge waves. The waves caused boats docked 2kms away from Wushan to shake strongly, and the Jian-San Hao ship next to a barge was pushed far away by the waves.

According to estimations by Wushan perfection Bureau of Land Management officials, the landslide mass was around 50,000 cubic metres. Boats were immediately banned on the segment of the river, and relevant teams have begun emergency traffic control for the water channels in the region, diverting boats to nearby safe areas. The ban was lifted a few hours later after officials found that the depth of the river was safe, and all traffic on the river has resumed.

Investigations are now underway by Wushan prefecture officials into the cause of the landslide.

The above news is brought to you by Yu Ming and hosted by Chris Thomas for Inside China Today on the SOH Radio Network.

Posted in China, Chongqing, Environment, News, River, SW China, transport, World, Yangtze river | Comments Off on China: Landslide sends 50,000 cubic metres of mountain mass into Yangtze River

Dry, Polluted, Plagued by Rats: The Crisis in China’s Greatest Yangtze River

Posted by Author on January 19, 2008


Jonathan Watts in Beijing, The Guardian, UK, Thursday January 17 2008-

The waters of the Yangtze have fallen to their lowest levels since 1866, disrupting drinking supplies, stranding ships and posing a threat to some of the world’s most endangered species.

Asia’s longest river is losing volume as a result of a prolonged dry spell, the state media warned yesterday, predicting hefty economic losses and a possible plague of rats on nearby farmland.

News of the drought – which is likely to worsen pollution in the river – comes amid dire reports about the impact of rapid economic growth on China’s environment.

The government also revealed yesterday that the country’s most prosperous province, Guangdong, has just had its worst year of smog since the Communist party took power in 1949, while 56,000 square miles of coastline waters failed to meet environmental standards.

But the immediate concern is the Yangtze, which supplies water to hundreds of millions of people and thousands of factories in a delta that accounts for more than 40% of China’s economic output. According to the Chinese media, precipitation and water levels are at or near record lows in its middle and upper stretches.

The scale of the problem was revealed by the Yangtze water resources commission in a report on the Xinhua news agency’s website yesterday. It said that the Hankou hydrological centre near Wuhan city found the river’s depth had fallen to its lowest level in 142 years.

The measurement confirmed fears raised in recent weeks by the appearance of islands and mud flats not normally seen at this time of year. Local farmers reported far more ships than usual being trapped in unnavigable shallow waters.

Jianli county is among the areas suffering water shortages. Officials say the problem has grown worse in the past decade, raising concerns of a link to climate change.

“Before 1996, we were short of water for three months of the year, but now there are only three months when we can use water as normal,” Wu Chunping, the vice-manager of Jianli county’s water utility, was quoted as saying by Xinhua. “I heard that the water level will drop further in February.”

Li Lifeng, director of the freshwater programme of WWF China, said: “The major worry is for aquatic species and birds. If the water level goes too low they will lose a huge level of habitat.”

Among the endangered animals likely to be affected are the finless porpoise and the Chinese sturgeon, which returns to the sea at this time of year.

With the Yangtze three times as crowded with traffic as the Mississippi, conservationists fear the animals will be torn up by boat propellers or contaminated by more concentrated pollution from the 9,000 chemical plants along the Yangtze. Birds such as the Siberian crane may also suffer from the impact on their wintering area.

Local media have expressed concern that the drought could lead to a plague of rats similar to the one near Dongting lake last year after a drought was followed by fast-rising waters that drove the vermin to seek food in farm fields. “When the waters fall, the reeds die and the rats are driven inland in search of food,” said an official in the Yueyang farming and aquatic bureau who declined to give his name.

Original report from the Guardian

Posted in Central China, China, disaster, Drought, Environment, Health, Hubei, Life, News, Plague, pollution, River, Social, transport, water, World, Wuhan, Yangtze river | 1 Comment »

China’s Longest River at Lowest in 142 Years

Posted by Author on January 19, 2008


Reuters, Jan 17, 2008-

BEIJING, Jan 17 (Reuters) – China’s longest river, the Yangtze, is suffering from a severe drought this year with water levels in some areas falling to the lowest in 142 years, state media said on Thursday.

China is suffering its worst drought in a decade, which has left millions of people short of drinking water and has shrunk reservoirs and rivers.

Hardest hit are large swathes of the usually humid south, where water levels on several major rivers have plunged to historic lows in recent months.

On Jan. 8, the Yangtze water level at Hankou plunged to 13.98 metres (46 ft), the lowest since records began in 1866, the China Daily said on Thursday, quoting the Wuhan-based Changjiang Times.

“This year’s drought is rare,” Li Changmin, a farmer from central Hubei province, was quoted as saying. “Just days ago, I saw ship after ship running aground. I have never seen that before.”

Since October, more than 40 ships have run aground in the main course of the Yangtze, the world’s third longest river which stretches 6,300 km (3,900 miles) from west to east, the traditional dividing line between north and south China.

This year’s dry season came a month earlier than usual and water levels fell sooner than expected, an official was quoted as saying.

“Also, large amounts of water were stored at the Three Gorges Dam last month, which caused the flow volume in the river to fall 50 percent. But the Yangtze River Water Resource Commission said the drought has nothing to do with the dam,” the China Daily said.

The Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric project, is an engineering feat that seeks to tame the Yangtze.

Backers say the dam will end devastating floods downstream and generate clean electricity. Critics call it a reckless folly that has brought wrenching dislocation for many people.

Drought and floods are perennial problems in China but meteorologists have complained about the increased extreme weather, pointing to global climate change as a culprit.

Original report from Reuters

Posted in Central China, China, dam, disaster, Drought, Environment, Hubei, Life, News, River, Three Gorges, transport, water, World, Wuhan, Yangtze river | Comments Off on China’s Longest River at Lowest in 142 Years

Residents fear China’s Three Gorges Dam

Posted by Author on November 28, 2007


MAOPING, China (AFP) — Several times this year, Tan Mingzhu had the terrible feeling her home in central China was about to collapse in on her family.

Frightening tremors rocked their simple concrete dwelling four kilometres (2.5 miles) from China’s mammoth Three Gorges Dam, ripping floor-to-ceiling cracks in the walls, and she doesn’t hesitate in assigning blame.

“It’s because of the dam. This started when the dam went into operation (last year),” said Tan, 36, a mother of one.

The fissures in Tan’s home are among mounting examples of the potentially disastrous impacts of the Yangtze river project, China’s biggest public works undertaking since the Great Wall and the world’s biggest hydropower project.

Built mainly for flood control and hydropower, the giant concrete wall built across China’s longest river has been blamed for a host of worsening environmental ills to go with longstanding concerns about the 1.4 million people uprooted so far to make way for the reservoir’s rising waters.

“An extraordinary amount of damage has been done, not only to property but to the irreplaceable network of human and economic relations that made up the region,” said Patricia Adams, executive director of Toronto-based Probe International, which chronicles the dam’s problems.

Government officials and scientists caused a stir in September when they told a conference that the project could lead to an “environmental catastrophe,” with the comments carried by the official Xinhua news agency.

The conference was told that the huge weight of the water behind the dam had started to erode the Yangtze river’s banks in many places, which, together with frequent fluctuations in water levels, had triggered a series of landslides.

Officials said shortly afterwards another four million people in the area would have to be relocated from around the dam.

After those revelations caused global headlines, the government has run a strong media campaign to say there are no major problems and the extra relocations are not related to the dam.

The head of the office in charge of constructing the dam, Wang Xiaofeng, was among the officials to warn of the dangers in September, but he was brought to Beijing to brief reporters on Tuesday and downplay the concerns.

“Regarding the Three Gorges project’s impact on the ecological environment, the benefits outweigh the negative consequences,” Wang said at the press conference, organised by the central government.

But critics and people living in the region remain fearful.

One of the biggest emerging concerns is that the reservoir’s seasonal water fluctuations have unsettled the delicate geology of the area, raising landslide and other seismic dangers.

“This is a geologically risky area and the dam definitely increases those risks,” Chen Guojie, a geologist at the Institute of Mountain Hazards in Chengdu, told AFP.

Residents of Maoping, in Hubei province, such as Zhou Gonghui, whose concrete house on a steep slope regularly groans and cracks, live in daily fear of those dangers.

Many like him were resettled here by the government in the 1990s from now-submerged zones. He wants to leave out of safety but lacks the money and says the government has been unresponsive.

“Of course, we are scared. but we’re just commoners. What can we do?” asked Zhou, 48.

Another longstanding concern frequently raised is that the dam will prevent the river from flushing the billions of tonnes of pollution dumped into it each year.

Despite the problems, and driven by a desire to lessen the country’s heavy reliance on highly polluting coal, new hydroelectric dams are being built at a furious pace.

Nearly three dozen are being built or planned for the upper reaches of the Yantze alone.

Just this week, construction began on the Xiangjiaba project in southwestern Sichuan province, which will have a third of the energy generating capacity of the Three Gorges Dam.

Original report from AFP

Posted in China, dam, Environment, housing, Life, News, People, River, Rural, Social, Three Gorges, World, Yangtze river | 1 Comment »

Millions bewildered and scared as world’s largest dam takes shape in China

Posted by Author on November 20, 2007


The Sydney Morning Herald, November 18, 2007-

China stands almost alone in wielding the wealth and will to conjure vast engineering efforts to alter the flow of rivers and the lives of millions. But many of its people are bewildered and frightened as the world’s largest dam takes shape, writes Chris Buckley

In a precarious apartment overlooking the Yangtze River, Xu Faxiu and her sick husband are holding out as the Government wrenches more than 1.4million people from their homes to make way for the vast Three Gorges Dam.

Whole towns and villages have been resettled to higher slopes or distant provinces as the water rises – an exodus that has brought protests of official corruption and inadequate compensation from displaced people, many of them poor farmers.

Before the waters peak at 175metres next year, Xu, 51, and her husband, Chen Kaishen, must abandon “old Badong”, a steep maze of rotting concrete blocks and half-demolished residences.

They are not ready to go. To stay, however, could mean death.

“This place could collapse, I know, but where do we go?” Xu says from her temporary home on the fifth floor of a largely abandoned apartment building.

She and her husband – rendered mute by two strokes – moved in when their old house, further down the slopes, was threatened as authorities began to lift the dam level.

“Everyone here will have to move out soon. I don’t know where we’ll go,” she says. “Complaining is useless. When you’re poor nobody listens.”

Xu and Chen’s story is a small drama illuminating the hardships and tensions the Three Gorges Dam has brought central China’s Hubei province – where Badong lies – and neighbouring Chongqing municipality.

The dam is an engineering feat of staggering proportions which seeks to tame the world’s third-longest river.

The 6300-kilometre Yangtze, which rises on the Tibetan plateau, flows through the towering Three Gorges to irrigate, and often flood, much of the country’s central and eastern plains……. ( more details from the The Sydney Morning Herald)

Posted in China, Chongqing, dam, Environment, housing, Life, News, People, River, Rural, Social, SW China, Three Gorges, World, Yangtze river | Comments Off on Millions bewildered and scared as world’s largest dam takes shape in China

China’s Three Gorges Dam Under Fire

Posted by Author on October 14, 2007


By LIN YANG, the Times, UK, Friday, Oct. 12, 2007-

The giant Three Gorges Dam across China’s Yangtze river has been mired in controversy ever since it was first proposed 88 years ago by Sun Yat Sen, the founding father of Modern China. In 1992, when Chinese Premier Li Peng submitted a proposal for the dam to China’s normally pliant parliament, the National People’s Congress, it ran into serious opposition and ultimately passed with the smallest margin in the legislature’s history.

Still, it is a sign of just how grave the problems are facing the world’s largest dam that criticism is now coming from top government officials in Beijing, who previously had studiously avoided saying anything derogatory about the $180 billion project. In June, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao told a meeting of the State Council, convened to discuss the Three Gorges project, that solving environmental problems surrounding the controversial dam project should be a priority for the country. On Sept. 25, a group of senior government officials and scholars announced at a work meeting in Wuhan that the project had the potential to cause a “huge disaster … if steps are not taken promptly.” And on Oct. 9, the Chongqing municipal government announced it would have to relocate an additional four million people in at-risk areas due to environmental damange caused by the dam.

Originally built to control the Yangtze’s regular flooding, produce electricity to fuel China’s booming economy and (not incidentally) serve as a symbol of the nation’s emerging engineering prowess, the Three Gorges Dam has already faced a host of problems. An estimated 1.4 million residents have been displaced by the 640-km-long reservoir forming behind it, which also flooded several important archaeological sites. And some hydrologists say that by trapping silt the dam could actually make downstream riverbanks more vulnerable to flooding.

Now, however, scientists say things are getting worse. The water quality of the Yangtze’s tributaries is deteriorating rapidly, as the dammed river is less able to disperse pollutants effectively. The incidence of algae blooms have risen steadily since the reservoir was completed in 2006. The rising water is also causing rampant soil erosion, resulting in riverbank collapses and landslides along the shores of the Yangtze’s tributaries. Professor Lei Henshun, an environmentalist at Chongqing University who has devoted years to studying and preserving the Three Gorges ecosystem, says that if the water level of the reservoir reaches its planned height of 165 meters next year, it will bring tributaries of the Yangtze River under even greater environmental threat. “Now it’s a good time to review the problems that have arisen,” he says, “before a larger flooded area brings an even bigger impact on the tributaries.”…… (more details from the Time)

Posted in China, Economy, Environment, Life, News, Politics, River, Three Gorges, water, World, Yangtze river | 1 Comment »

China Admits Three Gorges Dam Could Cause Environmental Disasters

Posted by Author on September 27, 2007


By VOA News, U.S, 26 September 2007-

Chinese state media report that experts say the country could face a catastrophe if it fails to quickly resolve environmental problems caused by the massive Three Gorges Dam.

Government-run news outlets Wednesday said experts are concerned by flooding and erosion on hillsides along the Yangtze River around the dam.

The reports note the concerns of Wang Xiaofeng, the head of the office in charge of constructing the dam. He is quoted as saying China can not win by achieving economic prosperity at the cost of the environment.

He said the hydro-electric project has caused conflicts over land shortages and environmental degradation caused by irrational development.

The Chinese government has hailed the Three Gorges Dam as its greatest engineering project since the Great Wall.

It has said the project is a source of clean power and a solution to devastating flooding on the Yangtze River.

Human rights and environmental activists have long condemned the $22 billion dam, because of its negative effects on people and the environment.

The construction and flooding behind the dam has forced nearly one-and-a-half million people to leave their homes.

Original report from VOA News

Posted in China, disaster, Environment, Life, News, Politics, River, Social, Three Gorges, World, Yangtze river | 3 Comments »

China’s Longest River Extensively Polluted Beyond Repair

Posted by Author on April 16, 2007


Reuters, Apr 15, 2007-

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s Three Gorges Dam reservoir has been fouled by pesticides, fertilizers and sewage, and more than 600 kilometers of the Yangtze river are critically polluted, Xinhua news agency said on Sunday, citing a report.

The joint report by an institute at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the international WWF organization and the Yangtze River Water Resources Commission also said nearly 30 percent of the river’s major tributaries, including the Minjiang, Tuojiang, Xiangjiang and Huangpu rivers, were seriously polluted.

“The impact of human activities on the Yangtze water ecology is largely irreversible,” Yang Guishan, a researcher of the Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences and one of the chief editors of the report, told Xinhua.

“It’s a pressing job to regulate such activities in all the Yangtze drainage areas and promote harmonious development of man and nature.”

China’s environment has suffered for years as the country has chased rapid economic growth, with little official attention given until recently to the threats of unfettered growth to the nation’s air, water and soil.

Last month at the opening session of the National People’s Congress, Premier Wen Jiabao called for economic growth goals to be balanced with protection of the environment.

Cities along the Yangtze annually dump at least 14.2 billion tons of waste into China’s longest waterway — which Xinhua said accounts for 35 percent of the country’s fresh water resources.

The river’s annual harvest of aquatic products dropped from 427,000 tons in the 1950s to about 100,000 tons in the 1990s, according to the joint study.

It also said the Three Gorges Dam reservoir, the world’s largest water storage facility, was seriously polluted by pesticides, fertilizers and sewage from passenger boats.

– Original report from Reuters: China’s Yangtze river extensively polluted: study

Posted in China, Economy, Environment, News, pollution, River, Social, Three Gorges, waste, water, Yangtze river | Comments Off on China’s Longest River Extensively Polluted Beyond Repair

3 of World Top 10 Drying Out Rivers Are in China

Posted by Author on March 20, 2007


In a newly released report, The World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), the global conservation organization, listed 3 major China rivers are drying out and are threatening severe water shortages. The 3 rivers are the Yangtze (known as Chang Jiang in China), Mekong (known as Lan Cang Jiang in China), Salween (known as Nu Niang in China). Here’s the news release:

Gland, Switzerland, 20 Mar 2007– Rivers on every continent are drying out, threatening severe water shortages, according to a new WWF report.

The report, World’s Top Rivers at Risk (in PDF), released ahead of World Water Day (22 March), lists the top ten rivers that are fast dying as a result of climate change, pollution and dams.

“All the rivers in the report symbolize the current freshwater crisis, which we have been signalling for years,” says WWF Global Freshwater Programme Director Jamie Pittock.

“Poor planning and inadequate protection of natural areas mean we can no longer assume that water will flow forever. Like the climate change crisis, which now has the attention of business and government, we want leaders to take notice of the emergency facing freshwater now not later.”

Five of the ten rivers listed in the report are in Asia alone. They are the Yangtze, Mekong, Salween, Ganges and Indus. Europe’s Danube, the Americas’ La Plata and Rio Grande/Rio Bravo, Africa’s Nile-Lake Victoria and Australia’s Murray-Darling also make the list.

Dams along the Danube River — one of the longest flowing rivers in Europe — have already destroyed 80 per cent of the river basin’s wetlands and floodplains. Even without warmer temperatures threatening to melt Himalayan glaciers, the Indus River faces scarcity due to over-extraction for agriculture. Fish populations, the main source of protein and overall life support systems for hundreds of thousands of communities worldwide, are also being threatened.

The report calls on governments to better protect river flows and water allocations in order to safeguard habitats and people’s livelihoods.

“Conservation of rivers and wetlands must be seen as part and parcel of national security, health and economic success,” Pittock adds. “Emphasis must be given to exploring ways of using water for crops and products that do not use more water than necessary.”

In addition, cooperative agreements for managing shared resources, such as the UN Watercourses Convention, must be ratified and given the resources to make them work, says WWF.

“The freshwater crisis is bigger than the ten rivers listed in this report but it mirrors the extent to which unabated development is jeopardizing nature’s ability to meet our growing demands,” says Pittock. “We must change our mindset now or pay the price in the not so distant future.”

Posted in Asia, China, Environment, Life, Mekong, News, River, Social, World, Yangtze river | 1 Comment »