Home > Topics > The Three-Gorges Project
Chronology of Three Gorges Project

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.

--In 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.

--In 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.

-- In 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 Yangtze.

-- 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 feasibility.

-- 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.

-- In 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 Project.

-- In April of 1984, the State Council authorized the Yangtze Valley Planning Office to draft a feasibility report on the Three Gorges Water Control Project.

-- 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 project.

-- 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 People's Congress.

-- 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 appropriate time.

-- 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 Development Corporation.

-- On July 26, 1993, the TGPCC approved a preliminary design plan for the Three Gorges Project, representing the beginning of the period of construction preparations.

-- 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.

-- In 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 second-phase project.

[Suggest to a Friend]