Day By Day

Thursday, July 02, 2009

China Diary -- Part 28 The Dams

The next morning found us docked at Sandouping. We went ashore again, this time to visit China's largest civil engineering project and the largest water control project in the world -- the Three Gorges Dam. As was so often the case on the Yangtze, a dense fog settled over the river, obscuring objects and structures on the far bank.

The dam is huge -- four times larger than Hoover [Boulder] Dam.

Like governments everywhere the state took great pains to emphasize time and again how the Three Gorges Dam exemplified the wonderful things that the rulers were doing for the people, and, this being China, the point was made over and over that this was bigger and better than anything else in the world. This kind of overt boosterism reminded me of the kind of bragging competition that the United States and France engaged in a century ago, or the absurd claims advanced by Soviet authorities in the mid-twentieth century or Texas braggadocio of the same period. It's harmless, of course, and amusing, but it betrays a certain strain of status anxiety in the national culture.

Back on the boat we continued down the river toward the Gezhou Dam, affording me the opportunity to take pictures of life along the river.

Finally we arrived at the Gezhou Dam where we passed through another set of locks, then we disembarked at Jingzhow where we finally bade farewell to the Yangtze. We boarded buses and set out toward our next destination -- Wuhan.