Three Gorges Project passes all tests

▲Aerial view of the ship locks at the Three Gorges Dam in Yichang, Central China’s Hubei Province, on Sunday. The Chinese government announced Sunday that the dam project is fully complete and has passed all its tests, having played a crucial role in holding back flood waters this summer. Photo: IC


 After more than 20 years of construction and testing, China on Sunday announced the full completion of the mega Three Gorges project, a historical moment marking the national spirit of Chinese people and a vivid rebuttal to the West who has been dedicated to fabricating rumors and hyping its safety problems and dangers to the environment.

The project has passed all the tests. The dam and reservoir are running smoothly and fully operational in flood control, power generation, navigation and water resources utilization, Chinese officials from the Ministry of Water Resources and National Development and Reform Commission announced on Sunday.

Experts believe that Sunday’s announcement not only demonstrates the spirits of Chinese craftsmen; more importantly, it is a perfect interpretation of what the idiom “facts speak louder than words” means. 

It tells the world that although the road to the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is tough and arduous, Chinese people will continue to strive and fight with the spirit of boldness, hardworking and sacrifice as the Three Gorges project withstood the test of time, and say “no” out loud to any attempts to defame or defeat the country. 

The Three Gorges project is by far the world’s largest water control project and the most comprehensive hydropower project. Monitoring shows that the river dam, flood discharge, energy dissipation, water diversion and power generation, navigation facilities and protective buildings are in normal operating conditions, officials said Sunday. 

In a heavy summer flood season, by the end of August, the Three Gorges reservoir had accumulatively withheld more than 180 billion cubic meters of floodwater. Through the retention by the reservoir, the flood peak was reduced by about 40 percent, greatly reducing the flood pressure in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, according to a statement the China Three Gorges Corporation, the company that operates the dam, sent to the Global Times on Sunday. 

This year’s flood disaster with the alarming water levels exceeding those of 1998 in Poyang Lake, China’s largest freshwater lake, brought the project back to the spotlight with Western media keeping a close watch on whether the project could withhold the floods and if the country will suffer the same fate it did 22 years ago.

As of August 23, the Three Gorges Dam had successfully responded to nine floods this year. Through multiple rounds of repeated storage and discharges, nearly 29 billion cubic meters of flood waters were blocked, equivalent to 241 East Lakes in Wuhan, Central China’s Hubei Province.

Particularly, on August 20, the Three Gorges reservoir underwent the test of a record high inbound water flow since the reservoir was filled in 2003 when construction of the last section of the dam started. 


Western fallacies rebuked 

For over 20 years, the dam, since construction began in 1994, has been subject to questions over whether the project would destroy the local ecology and environment and induce earthquakes. 

In recent years, the project was utilized by some people from Western countries as a weapon to attack the rising China. They have been throwing stereotyped suspicions, which claimed that the dam is bending, in danger of collapse, and even endangering nuclear power plants, although China has never built any inland nuclear power plants. 

Facing clarifications from Chinese experts and officials, some media outlets refused to listen, but continued their clichés, citing so-called satellite imagery and monitoring data. Some even showed their “sour-grape” mindset, claiming that although the dam did not cause imminent disasters right now, they were sure that an earthquake under the dam would be their expectation of failure. 

Since October 28, a new stereotyped suspicion appeared on Twitter, which claimed that the water level at the Three Gorges Dam officially reached the dam’s maximum capacity of 175 meters, attached with a monitoring graph. As of 2:20 pm local time on October 28, the water level is 175.00 meters and rising slowly, the infographic shows. Some people said that the moment the dam breaks, there will be hell for the country. 

“That is a pure lie. It shows that a large number of overseas netizens were manipulated by people with ulterior motives as they did not understand the operational principles of the dam,” an expert from the Water Resources Ministry’s Flood and Drought Disaster Reduction Research Center told the Global Times on Sunday on condition of anonymity. 

The expert said the water level at the dam is usually kept high in winter for electricity supply and navigation, the expert said. 

In the summer, due to flood control, the storage capacity was vacated and the water level dropped to 145 meters. There is no need for flood control in winter, thus the reservoir level can reach 175 meters. It is the normal water level, an insider from the China Three Gorges Corporation explained to the Global Times. 

▲Boats drive on the water of the Three Gorges in Zigui County in central China’s Hubei Province, April 21, 2018. (Photo by Zheng Jiayu/Xinhua)

Safe and sound 

Experts pointed out that it is rare in China to announce the completion of a project after having been through such a long time of testing, which shows that the project is safe and sound. 

The Three Gorges Corporation’s statement shows that by the end of August, the station had generated 1.354 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity, boosting power supply in East China, Central China and South China’s Guangdong Province and other regions. 

Also by the end of August, the high-quality clean power generated by the station was equivalent to saving 430 million tons of standard coal and 1.169 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Officials announced that a total of 1.3 million residents had been relocated during the construction of the project, significantly improving their living conditions. The geological environment of the resettlement area as well as the reservoir are generally safe.

“Hyping up environmental problems has been an old trick for the West to defame the project. In the Three Gorges area of the Yangtze River, there were many dangerous shoals, frequent geological disasters and shipping difficulties. The project has greatly improved the navigation conditions of the Yangtze River in Sichuan Province and greatly alleviated geological disasters,” He Zhiqing, a retired research fellow with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences who specializes in research on natural disasters, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

He, 80, has been studying the Three Gorges project for over a decade. He shared with the Global Times that he had been attending seminars held in Wuhan, where the dam is located, over the past 10 years and almost all scholars and students acknowledged the decision to build the project. 

It is true that the project made over a million people leave their homes and during the relocation process, there had been some problems, however, the West attacked the project with the small picture while ignoring the facts that those people are living better lives. 

He’s family was one of the group who had been relocated due to the project. He said that before moving away, his family lived in a shattered house. They cooked with wood and had to use smoky kerosene lamps at night. Later, they were relocated to a new house built by the government with beautiful decoration, convenient electricity and natural gas.  

“We no longer needed to be afraid of floods and droughts,” he recalled. 

Observers said the project indeed exposed the Chinese people’s contradictory mentality – to maintain ancient natural scenery or to march forward with bold reforms. However, the Chinese people are destined to embrace new developments. 

“The Three Gorges project is also a part of the Chinese dream. Now the full completion is also a symbol of the journey to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” He said. 

Shan Jie contributed to this story 

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