Announcing the Salween Watch Newsletter
Salween Under Threat
Welcome to the first Salween Watch
Newsletter! We hope that by reading this,
you will be moved to take action to
protect this majestic river, and help the
people whose lives are threatened by ill-
conceived plans to obstruct its free flow
with dams and hydro power development.
The Salween River, one of the great rivers
of Southeast Asia, is under threat. The
governments of the Salween countries-
Burma, Thailand and China-have been
pushing forward with plans to dam this
still free-flowing river. Plans include both
exploitation of hydro power potential and
diversion of water to Thailand. A series
of large dams along the course of the
river in Yunnan, southern China and the
eastern states of Burma are being
considered. More ...
Click here to Download the August 2007 issue or write here to request a current hardcopy:
(Salween Watch, Nov 23, 2007)
500 Students Cross Major River on a Steel Cable
Nearly 500 school children in Fugong, Yunnan Province, China have to
cross the often raging Nujiang River each day to get to school. The
only problem is that there is no bridge.
In order to cross the river, the children have to take the journey
via a single steel cable stretched across the canyon. Children as
young as 4 years old have to transverse the river by themselves each day.
The children fasten themselves to the cable with a carabiner and a rope
to slide over the 200 meter wide canyon. Occasionally children get stuck
in the middle of the cable and have to wait up to half an hour in order
to be rescued.
(Fugong, Yunnan Province, China. September 20, 2007)
Activists Believe Thailand Continues Involvement With Salween Dam Projects
A report that Thailand is not looking to Burma for energy
needs is receiving skeptical reactions from Salween Watch activists, who
assert that companies from Thailand have already signed agreements with
Burma for the joint development of a 7,110 MW dam at Tasang, which carries
grave implications for peoples of Shan State. More ...
(Shan Harold Agency for News, 22 June 2007)
Big hydro in the red
the drive for DE-friendly reform in China
Centralized planning has delivered a series of large,
centralized hydro electric energy projects to China, many of which
have proved to be a serious mismatch to the power problems they were
meant to solve. Here, Grainne Ryder argues that consumer-oriented markets
ought to guide investment decisions in the future, and that these would
aid decentralized energy projects. More...
(Grainne Ryder, Cogeneration and On-Site Power
Production, May 10, 2006)
Seeking a Public Voice on China's 'Angry River'
XIAOSHABA, China - Far from the pulsing cities
that symbolize modern
China, this tiny hillside village of crude peasant houses seems
disconnected from this century and the last. But follow a dirt path
past a snarling watchdog, sidestep the chickens and ducks, and a small
clearing on the banks of the Nu River reveals a dusty slab of concrete
lying in a rotting pumpkin patch.
The innocuous concrete block is also a symbol, of a struggle over
law that touches every corner of the country.
The block marks the spot on the Nu River where officials here in
Yunnan Province want to begin building one of the biggest dam
projects in the world. The project would produce more electricity
than even the mighty Three Gorges Dam but would also threaten a
region considered an ecological treasure. This village would be
the first place to disappear.
(By Jim Yardley, New York Times, Dec 16, 2005)
Multiple Energy Sources for China
A senior official has called on China to develop multiple
energy sources in rural areas in an apparent effort to ease over-reliance
on coal to meet the country‘s huge demand for electricity, state media
In the countryside, there are abundant resources of wind power, solar
energy, methane power, geothermal energy and small-scale hydroelectric
power, which can be effectively harnessed, Vice Minister of Water
Resources Suo Lisheng was quoted by Xinhua news agency saying. More...
(China.com, April 19, 2005)
Crouching tiger, hidden power
Work preliminary to construction of dams along the Nu is quietly underway.
An outcry forced China to call a halt to construction
on a massive power project that would have flooded some of the world's
most beautiful gorges, but work is quietly proceeding. Hamish McDonald
Last November it was announced that public hearings would be held this
year into the Liuku dam on the Nu River... So far, however, the public
hearings have not been listed... In Yunnan province, ethnic communities
are only vaguely aware of projects being announced in the capital,
Kunming, and critically short of the expert advice that could give them
proper voice in any hearings...
As of this month, at the National People's Congress in Beijing,
the Minister of Water Resources, Wang Shucheng, said four dams
would go ahead, starting with the Liuku project.
(Fairfax Digital, Sydney Morning Herald, March 26, 2005)
Revised plan for dam project
The central government will allow some of the 13 dams in the
controversial Nujiang hydroelectric project in Yunnan province to be built.
But it will put the remainder on hold for at least a year until a revised
plan is completed, said Minister of Water Resources Wang Shucheng.
... 'The construction of one to two dams which have less impact on the
environment will begin first,' Mr Wang said. More...
(South China Morning Post, March 6 2005)
http://www.scmp.com/ (see archive)
Hydroelectric power's dirty secret revealed
CONTRARY to popular belief, hydroelectric power can
seriously damage the climate. Proposed changes to the way countries'
climate budgets are calculated aim to take greenhouse gas emissions
from hydropower reservoirs into account, but some experts worry that
they will not go far enough.
The green image of hydro power as a benign alternative to fossil fuels
is false, says Éric Duchemin, a consultant for the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). "Everyone thinks hydro is very clean,
but this is not the case," he says. More ...
(New Scientist, 26 Feb 2005)
Chinese Project Pits Environmentalists Against Development Plans
Beijing. A major dam project suspended last year by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao
is now the focus of a bureaucratic fight between pro-development advocates
pushing to restart the project and environmentalists who want public hearings
and further research....
The original project called for a 13-stage dam on the Nu River, which flows
through a remote, pristine region in western China that is designated as a
World Heritage Site by Unesco. Last spring, Mr. Wen unexpectedly halted the
project for further study of possible environmental damage, a decision that
led to speculation in the Chinese news media that the project was dead.
But in recent months, new accounts in Chinese newspapers have suggested that
the project may be restarted in some form. Witnesses have reported that some
ancillary construction work is under way beside the Nu near the city of Liuku,
a site planned for one of the dams. More...
(New York Times, Jan 2, 2005)
More controversy surrounds Nu River hydropower project
Shanghai. On November 13, experts were invited by the
National Development and Reform Commission
and the State
Environmental Protection Administration
(SEPA) to a consultative
conference on the environmental impact of the planned Nu River
hydropower project, an expert from China's Academy of Social Sciences,
who had taken part in the field survey for the project, told Interfax.
However, the authorities seem to be reluctant to release the findings
of the study....
The trade-off between economic growth and environmental protection is
nowhere more stark than on the Nu River in western Yunnan Province,
also known as the Salween. The river, winding through a gorge that
stretches more than 100 km, is said to be the only untouched waterway
remaining in China, and is home to thousands of rare indigenous plants
and butterflies, as well as a number of ethnic minority farming
communities scattered along the banks....
(Interfax-China, December 6, 2004)
Public voices should be heard over dam
Ge Quanxiao felt a little relieved as he returned from a United Nations
forum on hydropower and sustainable development in Beijing in late
October. Ge, a villager from the Wuzhu Village of Jinsha Township in
Southwest China's Yunnan Province, was invited to speak about his
concerns over the construction of a proposed hydropower station near
his hometown, together with four other immigrants from dam areas in
(By Qin Chuan, China Daily, November 12, 2004)
Tribunals to be held for controversial projects
Shanghai. (Interfax-China) - The State
Administration (SEPA) has announced that by the end of this year
or the beginning of the next, a system will be in place to allow
residents and other parties into the decision-making process for
large-scale and controversial projects. Pan Yue, the deputy head
of SEPA, told the seventh "Environmental Good News" Awards ceremony
that tribunals would be held before construction was launched on
(Interfax-China Ltd., November 12, 2004)
Drung Nationality Residents Drive Scott Lindgren
Productions Film Crew & Kayakers from the Dulong Rriver Valley of
Earlier this week, 6 kayakers led by Scott Lindgren,
videographer and kayaker of Auburn, California USA were caught,
sneaking into Dulong River Valley.... The Americans were attempting to
pull off an unauthorized, unpermitted, and unpaid for First Descent and
kayak movie, conservatively worth $80,000 to this poverty level
(by White Pearl, Esquire, Consultant to Nu, Drung, Lisu
Minority Nations of People's Republic of China, November 12, 2004)
China's Xiaowan hydroelectric power station
succeeds in damming river
China's top project for western development, the
Xiaowan Hydroelectric Power Station, has dammed the Lancang River
a year ahead of schedule after three years of all-out, arduous efforts.
The hydropower station, second in size in China only to the Three Gorges
Power Project, then announced to start the construction of a
292-meter-high, concrete hyperbolic arch dam, the highest of the world....
(Xinhua News Agency, October 28, 2004)
China, Thailand join forces on Yunnan
China and Thailand have announced a joint venture
to build and operate two power stations on the Lancang-Mekong River.
China will hold 75 percent of the stake.
According to sources with the Yunnan provincial power department,
China Huaneng Group and GMS Co. of Thailand will pool capital to
build the Jinghong and Nuozhadu power stations on the Lancang River,
which connects China by water to five southeast Asian countries...
(People's Daily Online, July 17, 2004)
China's dams put Mekong on knife's
edge, says researcher
[This could also be the future of the Nujiang]
SINGAPORE -- China's damming of the Mekong
River to help power its economy could pose a grave threat within
a decade to the livelihoods of millions of Southeast Asian
farmers and fishers, an Australian researcher said on Tuesday...
(Reuters, Environmental News Network, June 30, 2004)
Forests should be preserved
to control flooding
Premier Wen urged to save northern Burma forests
Encouraged by his intervention in February to suspend
the construction of dams on the Nu, known in Burma as the Salween,
environmentalists have called on China's Prime Minister Wen Jiabao
yesterday to "act now to save" the forest region known as N'Mai Hku,
in Burma's northernmost Kachin State....
(Shan Herald Agency for News, June 25, 2004)
Hydro in China - to be or not to be?
Was the Chinese prime minister's rejection of a
proposal for a 13-dam cascade on the Salween river a sign of things
to come for hydro in the country? Tim Sharp considers the evidence
and concludes the Salween dams are unlikely to be needed for
energy production but may be built for water storage purposes.
(International Water Power and Dam
Construction, 17 June 2004)
Controversy surrounds Manwan Hydropower Station,
but construction continues...
Despite all the controversies surrounding the Manwan Hydropower
Station, constructed on the Lancang River (also known as the Mekong)
running through southwestern China's Yunnan Province, the second phase
of the station is still under construction....
According to Beijing Qingnian Bao (Beijing Youth Daily), the life
span of the Manwan hydropower Station has now been shortened to
around 20 years as a result of severe silt build-ups. The paper also
notes that over 5,000 migrants relocated to
give way for the construction of the Manwan Hydropower Station are
living in desperate conditions because of the low level of
compensation given to them...
(Interfax-China Ltd., June 11, 2004.)
Dam builders damn Beijing's command
Despite Premier Wen Jiabao's February directive
that work on the dam projects stop to allow an assessment of their
potential impact, preparatory work on the Chinese part of the
Salween, known there as Nu, had been going around the clock, reported
South China Morning Post, Wednesday 19 May...
(Shan Herald Agency for News, May 21, 2004)
Field Museum gives Parker/Gentry Award to Chinese conservationist
Prof. Yang Yuming, outspoken critic of damming Nu River in Southwestern China,
wins prestigious award
Field Museum gives its ninth annual Parker/Gentry Award to Yang
Yuming, one China's foremost conservation advocates, on May 25. He is a leading
opponent of building 13 massive dams on the Nu River in Southwestern China that was
set to begin this year. The Nu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of
two major Chinese rivers not yet dammed. It runs through China's "Grand Canyon"
and some of the world's most biodiverse regions...
(EurekAlert, May 18, 2004)
The Battle of the Dambusters - Saving China's Virgin Rivers
A group of Chinese environmentalists are struggling to stop the
damming of Nujiang, or the Salween as it is known after it flows out of Yunnan in
southwestern China to Myanmar...
(Shanghai Daily, May 3, 2004)
Killing Nujiang hydro project the right move
It has been confirmed that the State Council has quashed the hydropower project
on the Nujiang River, which had already been given the go-ahead by the State Development and Reform
Commission. Many people have voiced their support to the State Council's action...
(China Daily, April 29, 2004)
"No conclusion drawn" regarding dams on Nu River
"There has been no conclusion drawn regarding the dams on the Nu
River," a source with the China Huadian Corporation told Interfax. He was reacting to
a story published by the Hong Kong-based newspaper, Ming Pao, which revealed that
Premier Wen Jiabao's had intervened to put a stop to the hydropower projects on the
river, known as China's "Lost Eden"...
(Interfax, April 14, 2004)
www.interfax.com/com?item=Chin&pg=0&id=5712684&req=" alt: http://www.threegorgesprobe.org/tgp/index.cfm?DSP=content&ContentID=10102
Dam project on pristine river halted
China's premier, Wen Jiabao, has halted plans for a huge dam system in the
country's most spectacular canyon, it was reported yesterday. ...
The reprieve for the pristine Nu river - one of only two major waterways
left undammed in China - may prove temporary, however, as few details have
been made public about Beijing's change of tack. But even a slight hesitation
will encourage environmentalists who have been urging the government to
consider the impact on nature of its drive for new energy resources...
(The Guardian (UK), April 10, 2004)
China's Premier Orders Halt to a Dam Project Threatening
a Lost Eden
BEIJING, April 8 — Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has unexpectedly
suspended plans for a massive dam system on the Nu River in western China that
scientists have warned could ruin one of the country's last unspoiled
places, according to news reports in China and Hong Kong...
(New York Times, April 9, 2004)
Dam activists win first round
Apparently in response to the anti-dam activists' efforts that
had drawn so much media attention in China, Premier Wen Jia-bao has issued on order
scrapping the controversial dam project on the Nujiang, known in Thailand and Burma
as Salween, reported Hong Kong-based papers, Ta Kung Pao (1 April) and Ming Pao
(Shan Herald Agency for News, April 3, 2004)
Nujiang River region enthralls travellers (Tourism)
From its headwaters on the southern slope of Tanggula Mountain
on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the Nujiang River runs through one of China's most
remote areas, where it has carved canyons through the rugged mountain ranges east
of the Himalayas... The river runs through gorges unlike any others in the country,
moving many to call it "the Grand Canyon of the Orient."
(China Daily, March 30, 2004)
Gorgeous people of Nujiang Gorge (Minorities)
Located in Southwest China's Yunnan Province, Nujiang Gorge is a
mysterious area rich in ethnic culture. At the foot of the steep Jianshan and
Tuanshan mountains, this 316-kilometre-long river suddenly changes its course and
flows as waterfalls over the cliffs. It is in this region that the Lisu minority
celebrate their various festivals...
(Xinhuanet, March 30, 2004)
Let the Salween flow
When Hseng Kham visited the Upper Salween in China last February,
she discovered that at least one aspect of life was common to both the villagers
there and in Shan State - decision makers for the dams don't consult their own
citizens about the projects...
(Shan Herald Agency for News, March 21, 2004)
Dam on China's Salween goes for it
According to a translated report from China News Service, the
Liuku dam, the first on the mainstream Nu, is going to be built in the first half
of 2004. The news had come right out of the National People's Congress being held
(Shan Herald Agency for News, March 11, 2004)
Dam Building Threatens China's 'Grand Canyon'
The highest villages in the mountains above the Nu River seem to
hang in the air. Farmers grow cabbage and corn nearly a quarter-mile up, as if
cultivating ski slopes. Necessity has pushed them into the sky; land is precious
along the river...
(New York Times, March 10, 2004)
UN agency hits China over dams
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation voiced
concern over China's plans to build 13 large hydroelectric dams on the Salween river,
according to the Shan state's independent news agency...
(The Nation (Thailand), March 2, 2004)
Thai groups battle new China dam
China's blueprint for its latest power project is meeting
stiff resistance from outside its own borders - in Thailand and in Burma...
(BBC News Online, January 19, 2004)
Nu River (Upper Salween in China) Dam Debate
The heated debate in Chinese media on Nu River dam plan has once
again slowed down the dam builders' schedule. More and more people, including experts,
academics, government officials and residents, are involved in the debate...
(Xinhua News Agency, Jan 8, 2004)
Waterworks evoke debate
Heated discussion is raging among researchers and
scholars over the potential losses and gains from constructing dams
and related projects in the nation's western areas. In the following
reports, China Daily reporter CHEN LIANG reveals the events leading
to the dialogue...
(China Daily, December 20, 2003)
China Adds Three More Sites to World
World Heritage Committee now counts the area of
the confluence of three major rivers in southwest China's Yunnan
Province on the list of natural heritage.
The area where the Nujiang, Lancang and Jinsha rivers meet, covers
about 41,000 square kilometers in Yunnan Province and stretches to
the south of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. It is famous for its peculiar
physiognomy and biological diversity....
(People's Daily Online, Sunday, July 06, 2003)