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The History of Three Gorges Dam

 
 
 
Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of modern China
Dr. Sun Yat-sen, leader of modern China, also the first to suggest to build the Three Gorges Dam.
After the end of the First World War in 1918, Dr. Sun Yat-sen hoped that Chinese people to use advanced technologies applied Western countries during the war to develop China's infrastructure. In the following year, he wrote an article that suggested human improvements should be made for Yangtze River's middle reaches section. To build a dam in order to make upstream ship travel much easier and to make use the vast water resources of Yangtze River, he wrote. In 1924, he reiterated his idea in Guangzhou and added that Yangtze's importance to China's electricity power.

In 1930, the Chinese government planned to build a hydropower station on Yangtze River and made efforts to research and collect information, but the surveying work had not yet been done. Two years later, it managed to build two power stations at Huangling Temple and Gezhouba in Xiling Gorge respectively. However, the big plan was just a paper draft.

In the final period of the Anti-Japanese War (1937 – 1945), the US imposed "Dollar Diplomacy" to China. In April 1944, the US government submitted a report to the Chinese government, asking it to build a water power station on Yangtze River by loaning 900 million US Dollars. The power station would provide 10 million kilowatts capacity and produce 5 million tons of chemical fertilizer annually. China would pay the debt by supplying fertilizer products to America.

John Lucian Sovage, a US dam expert, came to China, explored Yangtze River and Xiling Gorge. He suggested that the dam and the power station should be built in the area between Nanjin Pass and Shipai. In the following year, the Chinese government agreed with the Three Gorges proposal and further surveying work had been done.

Due to state's crisis in 1947, the government ordered to terminate the progress of the Three Gorges Dam project. The actual usage of powerful Yangtze River water for energy to the country had still been a dream in Chinese's minds.

Since 1950s, the new Chinese government has been concerning the possibility of building a giant dam and a big power station China's Mother River. Chairman Mao Zedong has visited the site many times. Premier Zhou Enlai often talked to the leading engineer who was in charge the research.

In early 1970s, Hubei provincial government and Wuhan Military Zone unanimously approved to build the Gezhouba (Water Conservancy Project). The project had started in a hurry that the jobs of design, preparation and construction were done at the same time. Thus, during the construction, many problems occurred. However, Gezhouba provided lots of practical experience to the later Three Gorges Dam.

In summer of 1980, Deng Xiaoping as China's Vice Premier and Vice Chairman of the Communist Party, went onboard a downstream boat from Chongqing to inspect the sites of Sandouping (三斗坪), Gezhouba and Jingjiang River Dam. When arrived in Wuhan, Deng convened a meeting attended by other leading officials to examine the future Three Gorges project. Government and scientists in mid-1980s had made further researches and schemes. In 1989, Jiang Zemin, the General Secretary of the Communist Party visited the same passage as Deng Xiaoping did nine years ago.

The Three Gorges Dam Project began on December 14, 1994 in Sandouping, Yichang. It is 38 kilometers to the west of the Gezhouba project. The dam with the largest water conservancy function has the giant sluice of world's greatest flood discharge capacity. Over one million local people left their hometown due to the project. The project is generally divided into three periods. The first period is from 1993 to 1997; the second is from 1998 to 2003 and the third is from 2004 to 2009. The total investment for the whole project is 95.46 billion RMB.

A 2,309-meter-long dam, which is the world largest cement-built was completed in May 2006. Its top is about 185 meters above sea level. After the completion of the project, the water level is up to 175 meters and the total water capacity is up to 39.3 billion cubic meters, with 18.2 million kilowatts per hour capacity, which is the strongest in the world hitherto.
 
 
 
 
 

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