China Vs Nature (part II)

“The core of Chinese culture is the pursuit of the harmonious unity of man and nature”

Pan Yue, vice minister at China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection wrote recently in an article for the People’s daily.

What sets China apart from the profit driven, industrial, capitalist West, he writes, “is the country’s unique cultural system, based on moderation, harmony and tolerance”. I pondered the Chinese ideal of “harmony between heaven and humans” as I read Chinese new reports this week that heralded a new “golden-decade” of hydropower. The state will accelerate the building of hydro dams – reversing a long halt caused by environmental concerns and the social upheaval of displacing large number of people – in order to meet “green” energy targets. Nature will be harmoniously harnessed to bring power to the people. Take that nature.

This will mean every year adding the equivalent of another Three Gorges Dam (already the world’s largest). The pearl upon the sparkling crown of this eco-green golden age will be the cascade of dams down the mountain rivers that pour from the Tibetan Plateau.  Completion of the Tibetan railway   – known as the iron leach among locals – has spurred new dam construction, as well as mining developments in this previously inaccessible region. The Tibetan hinterland is preparing for a new development boom.

Yet more shadowy rumours are afoot. A dam (a modest creature three times the size of the Three Gorges) is planned at the great bend of the Brahmaputra River, just before it enters India. At the same site a 20 km long canal will be blasted through an intervening mountain range north of the river in order to carry water on its way far to China’s arid north.

A few obstacles stand in the way of Chinese engineers. But nothing that a few “friendly” nuclear explosions can’t overcome.

After all, as Mao oft mused, “Battling with heaven is endless joy, fighting with the earth is endless joy”

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