Dammed, diverted and polluted, China's rivers are reaching an ecological tipping point. China has more large dams than any other country in the world, including the world's largest – the Three Gorges Dam. Chinese companies are rapidly exporting their large dam-building model overseas. Chinese banks and companies are involved in constructing some 300 dams in 66 different countries, particularly in Africa and Southeast Asia.
Today there are more than 87,000 dams in China. Many of these projects have forced over 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 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.
Chinese companies and Chinese banks are now the biggest builders and funders of dams around the world. As a result, China has a growing and significant environmental footprint abroad. Many of China's overseas dams do not follow international environmental and social standards. Information and data is also difficult to obtain given the lack of transparency around Chinese overseas investments.
International Rivers China's program works to highlight the impacts of Chinese dam builders and banks on the world's rivers. We also seek to foster dialogue within China about the responsibilities of Chinese dam builders. We support the work of the growing Chinese environmental movement and groups working in countries affected by Chinese dams.