China's Major Rivers
Dammed, diverted and polluted, China's rivers are reaching an ecological tipping point. Today there are more than 25,800 large dams in China, including the world's largest hydropower project, the Three Gorges Dam. These projects have forced more than 23 million people from their homes and land, many of whom are still suffering the impacts of displacement and dislocation. Around 30% of China's rivers are severely polluted, and some rivers don't meet the sea anymore.
Yet despite the serious impacts of dam construction in China, the Chinese government has ambitious plans to expand hydropower generation, almost doubling capacity to 380,000 MW by the year 2020. Huge hydropower cascades have been proposed and are being constructed in what were once some of China's most pristine and diverse river basins ecosystems in the remote southwest – the Lancang (Mekong), the Yarlung (Brahmaputra), the Nu (Salween) Rivers, and upstream of the Three Gorges Dam in the Yangtze River basin.
International Rivers works with the growing Chinese river protection movement to support their calls for a cautious approach to development that balances economic growth and environmental protection, and demanding more transparent and participatory planning processes around hydropower development.