The Yangtze, the world's third largest river
after the Amazon and the Nile, will be blocked on November 8
to allow construction of the mammoth Three Gorges Dam. The
following is a chronology of major events leading to
construction of the world's largest water control project:
--During the more than 2,000 years between the
Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220) and the Qing Dynasty
(1644-1911), floods occurred on the Yangtze River nearly
once every ten years. During the last 300 years, severe
floods breached the Jingjiang Dam 60 times, and disastrous
floods struck twice in the past 100 years. Floods have been
a persistent problem for residents and businesses along the
Yangtze and for the Chinese government.
1919 Dr. Sun Yat Sen, forerunner of China's democratic
reform, proposed construction of a dam at Three Gorges to
make better use of the rich water resources of the Yangtze
and improve navigation.
--In 1944, American
dam expert John Lucian Savage was invited to do field
research at the Three Gorges by the resources committee of
the Republic of China. Savage drafted a preliminary report
on the water control project.
In May of 1946,
the resources committee of the government of the Republic of
China, which was in power then, signed an agreement with its
U.S. counterpart to jointly design the dam project.
--In May of 1947, the government of the
Republic of China ordered the project dropped because of
runaway inflation and an economic crisis.
1949, severe flooding again devastated the region along the
Yangtze, prompting new China at birth to attach importance
to flood control on the middle and lower reaches of the
river. Three years later, the Jingjiang flood diversion
project was completed on the Yangtze.
1953, Chairman Mao Zedong was presented with an outline for
building reservoirs on the river. He urged that a dam be
built at Three Gorges to control flooding.
In the flood season of 1954, the Yangtze Valley suffered the
most severe flooding of the century, serving as another
warning that permanent measures were required to harness the
-- In the ensuing four decades
starting in 1955, China began the arduous job of planning,
prospecting, researching and designing the Three Gorges
project. Serious discussions began on the project's
-- In March 1958, late Premier
Zhou Enlai delivered a report on the Yangtze Valley and the
Three Gorges Project at a CPC Central Committee conference
held at Chengdu, the capital of the southwestern China's
Sichuan Province. In August of the same year, he presided
over a meeting concerning the Three Gorges Project held at
the north China resort city of Beidaihe to study the
project's designing and other relevant preparatory work.
-- In 1970, the central government decided to
kick off the Gezhouba Dam Project as a part of the Three
Gorges Project to cope with the growing demand for
electrical power in central China.
-- In 1979,
the Ministry of Water Resources submitted a proposal on the
project to the State Council, and recommended an immediate
decision by the central government.
1980, late leader Deng Xiaoping inspected the proposed dam
site at Sandouping in the Xiling Gorge. Two years later,
Deng Xiaoping pledged to proceed with the Three Gorges
-- In April of 1984, the State
Council authorized the Yangtze Valley Planning Office to
draft a feasibility report on the Three Gorges Water Control
-- In June of 1986, the central
government demanded a re-examination of the project and more
feasibility studies. For the next three years, the Ministry
of Water Resources organized 14 expert groups for a
large-scale, thorough review of the project.
-- In 1989, the planning office revised the
feasibility report and proposed starting the project as soon
as possible. A basic building was also prepared for the
-- In July 1990, a supervisory
committee was set up for the project, with Vice-Premier Zou
Jiahua being the director. The committee approved the
feasibility report in August 1991 and submitted it to the
State Council for final deliberation at the Seventh National
-- On April 3 of 1992, the
Fifth Plenary Session of the Seventh National People's
Congress approved a resolution to proceed with the Three
Gorges Project, with 1767 deputies for, 177 against, and 664
abstaining. The project was included in the Ten-Year Program
for National Economic and Social Development, and the State
Council was authorized to carry out the project at an
-- In January of 1993, the
Three Gorges Project Construction Committee (TGPCC) was set
up to represent the State Council in decision-making and
regulating vital issues. Premier Li Peng was director of the
committee. The committee had three executive bodies: the
administrative office, the Bureau of Resettlement and
Development, and the China Yangtze Three Gorges Project
-- On July 26, 1993,
the TGPCC approved a preliminary design plan for the Three
Gorges Project, representing the beginning of the period of
-- In August of
1993, the State Council unveiled a set of regulations for
resettlement, adopting a development-oriented resettlement
policy in the Three Gorges Reservoir Area, pledging
accelerated economic growth and improved living standards
for those residents to be resettled in the reservoir region.
-- On December 14, 1994, Premier Li Peng
officially announced the official launching of construction
of the Three Gorges Project.
-- In 1995, the
resettlement program was kicked off.
August of 1996, two major transportation projects, including
a Xiling Bridge across the Yangtze and an airport in the
city of Yichang, were completed and went into service.
-- In January of 1997, the State Planning
Commission approved the issuance of 1 billion yuan in
corporate bonds. This was the first move of the TGPCC to
raise funds for construction through bonds offering.
-- In March of 1997, Chongqing's upgrade to a
municipality was approved by the Fifth Plenary Session of
the Eight National People's Congress, a move to ease
resettlement and expedite the progress of the project.
--In mid-September of 1997, most of the first
wave of residents in the reservoir region were relocated.
-- On October 1, 1997, the Qinjiatuo Bridge
opened to traffic, concluding construction of transportation
facilities for the dam project.
-- On October
6, 1997, navigation opened along a 3.5-km diversion canal on
the southern bank of the Yangtze, another preparation for
blocking the main channel.
-- On October 14,
1997, a decision was made at the 63rd Executive meeting of
the State Council to block the Yangtze on November 8, which
signals the completion of the first-phase construction of
the Three Gorges Project and the beginning of its