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Great Wall Across the Yangtze

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Steve W.
Palos Verdes, California
The Three Gorges Dam, besides being a monolith representing China's wishes for good relations with its citizens, as well as a potentially disatrous construction for the surrounding area, is a great source for generating renewable energy. However, unless measures are taken to protect indigenous species such as the Baiji dolphin, and unless toxins and other residues are removed from the factories before they are submerged, the consequences outweigh the benefits.

I have read what some of the other viewers of this documentary have said.

The supporters of building the dam should know that we, as humans, can't disturb the 'flow' of nature if you will, without dire consequences.

It is the law of nature.

If man thinks that he is the master of this earth and that nature is an item that he can manipulate, he will be the first to fall when nature retaliates.

Nature does not loose.

The larger the interference, the larger the retaliation.

The men who designed and build this dam have minds that are only 50 years old. Nature's wisdom and skill are millions of years old.

Who do you think will win this battle?

Susan Penner
Camden, Maine
I found the Great Wall Across the Yangtze an amazing film that presented a complex issue clearly and with compassion. I do not believe in projects of this size due to the environmental and cultural concerns. But until we are prepared to lead by example and solve our own environmental problems, the US government has no business trying to influence the Chinese.

I would also like to correct a bit of information in a previous posting. The Yellow River, which runs through northern China, is actually referred to as China's sorrow for its continual flooding.

Thank you, PBS, for presenting another quality film.

Dennis Gould
Lake City
I just saw your story on the Three Gorges Dame. Unfortunately it was a very biased story. For the following reasons. 1. Weather the dame is built or not I don't think we should be imposing this our influence on the culture of an another country. Especially what this country has done to ours. Example, The building of the Knzua Dame in Northwestern Pennsylvania This dame was constructed in the early 1960's for flood control for Pittsburgh. What the result of the Dame is a beautiful reservoir in the Allegany National Forest. It also dislocated the Seneca Indian Tribe and it ancient and sacred burial grounds. 2. Why didn't the program interview some of the survivors of the floods that happen along the river? Or the authorities on how much it cost to overcome the floods. Now I cant say if the Dame is needed or not. Unfortunately your story didn't help. I do know that if something isn't done the quality of life, economical growth, Human suffrage will not change.

After seeing your program, I felt very sad for China and it's people. The risks of building and having the dam seem to far outweight the benefits. China's nationalistic pride is destroying itself from the inside out, at the expense of the people and her enviornment. Having lived in China for three years, I can attest to the terrible pollution and enviornmental problems China now has. The Chinese people are ignorant to the plans of the government and unfortunately are more concern with making money and sacrificing the future for immediate benefits. Thank you for an excellent documentry.

From a Chinese's perspective, i think there is a need for building a river dam. The Chinese have been known for their excellence in their knowledge of waters, rivers, and other geological matters. But the reason why we hear all these corruption in the government is because of some's coverting of money. As a result, many Chinese citizens have been affected by wars or other government oppressions.

The Three Gorges is a little different than what we see on photos. It is actually a very rural area, and the Yangtze river is shallow and rapid. The only way to reach the interiors is by small fisher boats which can only carry so little goods at a time. The only way to commute between the cities and the rural areas is by these boats. Large boats could never get in or navigate in these waters. So if any emergencies strike then it is almost impossible for the outsiders to reach inland to rescue the people there.

As we always talk about human rights, we should also realize that the Chinese officials are trying to improve Chinese human rights. As many people residing in the Yangtze area are either uneducated or have never been to large cities, they know nothing about the natural disasters that might affect them in the future. And yeah, when we say that we should preserve those ancient monuments, we should also know that the Chinese had over 7000 years of innovation, so destroying a small part of that would still leave us with many more to see.

And reaching inland to those people doesn't mean modernizing or suppressing them. It is a better way to improve their lives, and help them in times of emergencies by means of the river dam and new river routes. So I think the dam is a must.

Sterren Latsky
Hampshire - United Kingdom
Thanx very much for this very useful and unbiased website. I am a year 11 pupil in the UK and we are doing a coursework project on The Three Gorges Dam and I think this site has helped me very much.

On a personal note I think that the Three Gorges Dam is a good idea because it means that the whole country can get clean energy, safety from floods and easy ship passage etc. - Three cheers to Mao Tse Tung! lol

salt lake city

David Warner
Dallas, TX
Rarely has a program affected me as this one has. Perhaps it is the grand scale of the project and the sweeping implications that made me rush straight to the computer and throw another feather-weight opinion on the pile.

The nationalism of China is reminiscent of Germany's struggle for cultural and national identity which led to suffering and countless lives lost. The ideas expressed by Chinese engineers and advocates of the dam on the program bordered on arrogance and, as one person put it, "blasphemy" against the river and the Chinese people.

We can not blame them for moving forward. They are striving to be a part of the global economy and environment that the U.S. and other industrial nations have created. It will take more than the bravery of the populace and outrage of environmental organizations to stop this and other destructive advancements of the human race.

It saddens me to think that we are motivated only by our own fate. You would think that a race inventive enough to build structures in space and intelligent enough to map our own biology could look beyond ourselves to the world in which we live. We build dams to control floods that kill people at the cost of entire ecosystems. We are concerned more about the human loss if the dam should break than the effect of if the dam stands, stopping the flow of the third largest sediment mover in the world. (Which make no mistake, the sluice vent solution will not work)

When will we be able to look beyond progress and growth and sprawl and artificial monetary profit? We seem motivated only by the challenge of putting as many people onto the planet as we can and isolating them from the world that we are consuming to support them.

Just as with the Hoover dam, this will be a mere point on the timeline of geology. The dam is nothing in comparison to what nature can dream up. The question is: what will WE willfully and permanently destroy for the sake of temporary growth?

David Warner

Peter Simeon
Everett, Wa
This like a mouse judging an elephant: I suspect this project is very important for China, perhaps more should be done for the displaced farmers, and more for the structural, animal and archaeological treasures. It is impossible to judge in light of possibly biased reporting.

Howard Fong
Palo Alto, California
I must say that I was very touched and moved by your documentary film GREAT WALL ACROSS THE YANGTZE. I hope that you are able to have your remarkable film shown around the world and at the United Nation, too. And hopefully that the White House sees your film, too.

After watching this "hidden gem" of a documentary film, I feel different about the Three Gorges Dam and am racking my head as to what can be done, even in a small way. I hope other viewers feel the same about your film in the same way that I did.

Again, thanks for the privilege of being able to participate in your film as the "Chinese Interpreter." It was an honored, and I feel that I am contributing something to the environmental cause against the continuing building of the Three Gorges Dam. Somehow, I feel that your film will have an impact on the direction of the Three Gorges Dam issue.

Peace be with you, Ellen.

Tempe, Arizona

Yup! I made up my mind. It is very obvious that the Three Gorges Dam needs to be built. Not only for flood prevention, but to have the Chinese save face in building it! I watched 'Great Wall Across the Yangtze' and thought about it the next day, all day. The idea of destroying historical archives, ensuing environmental and social impacts basically became obsolete! Really. Linger on it for awhile with non-biased views. Sometimes it's bad to be right. And this is one such case.

First off, all political mumbo jumbo that surrounds the dam should not be there. Not the way it is handled. It gives the project a bad rap, giving the public a negative opinion already.

Historically, the dam was a goal of the Chinese. Their option of either preserving their historical identity or jumping into the rat race economically with the rest of the world was the deciding factor. They are a nation who wants to be recognized as an economically stable country. In order to make a dam; they'll have to break a few peasants and animals! Basically, they don't care what happens to their cultural artifacts. Did you hear the responses of the townspeople, even the engineers? All the hype is about MONEY! Everyone wants they're lives paid for, it's so sad! So, build it and suffer the consequences (or thrive from it!).

Environmentally, the argument will be raised time and time again. The dam did this, the dam did that, yada, yada, yada! Listen to the program. The people dump their crap, THEIR CRAP into the river. The program talks of dolphins and how they will be destroyed due to the dam. The dolphins are a dying breed anyway! One hundred left. Do you really think environmentalists will keep these dolphins in their natural habitat very long, even if the dam wasn't going to be built? The river is a mess! It is a destroyer when it wants to be. It killed many, many people and left many more homeless. If the dam is built, massive cleanups can be proposed and wildlife refuges' established. It's actually easier to clean water that is not rushing around. Wouldn't it be nice if all that crap can be contained and cleaned up before it goes through Shanghai and into the Ocean?

They say that millions will be displaced. Hello out there! Did anyone beside me realize that they have huge territories around the river based on maps? The video says that it is too mountainous too farm. Well, try something new or move to a nicer area! I'm sure with beautiful scenery like the Three Gorges, there are other places. I seen other rivers and tributaries. The river area is not the only place to make a living!

From an Engineering standpoint, it will be a major feat. The biggest dam ever. We can all view this dam as an experiment, like the video states. It has to pass tons of sediment a day and maintain the reservoirs immense pressure. If it fails, bursts open, and a 40 story wall of water over a mile long comes gushing down to greet residents downstream, then the lesson of messing with mother nature will be engraved in our hearts forever and future projects can (and will) include all aspects of impact. Not only the Chinese, but other countries hopefully will realize that their egos should not be a part of politics. Political issues should then become obsolete, instead of the people it 'tries' to help. Until then, we can only hope for the best.

Also, I think we are also affected, indirectly. I seen B of A (Bank of America) endorsing the dam. That's why these new rules of checking accounts are outrageous! Dam them by the wall they'll help build!

Anyway, if a country wants to be competitive, old ways needs to be sacrificed or changed indirectly or directly. I don't oppose the project because I am engineering student who likes to study dams. I am for it because as beautiful as the scenery may be, the river needs to be maintained. It is an obvious fact that I hate to admit. And change into the future will hopefully be positive for the people. If it's not done now, then it will later by some other method. Also, like the video says, it is too late to turn back! So build it!

William Taylor Wittel
Marietta, Georgia
I am hearing almost universal condemnation of the Chinese for the building of the Three Gorges Dam. Perhaps we should take the time to realize that flooding of the Yangtze river has caused the deaths of millions of Chinese over the years. Is the preservation of historic sites more important than the lives of so many people? I think not. The Yangtze has often been called "China's Sorrow". Perhaps taming of the river is overdue.

Ashley K.
I, with all of my will, oppose of this project. I am 14 years old and am a freshman at high school. After my weekly Friday night football game, I came home, made myself a cup of tea, and sat down to see what was on television. I turned to PBS to see that they had a special on China. Coincidentally, I had wanted to learn Chinese, so I paid attention. Little did I know that what I was going to see would bother me for a long, long time.

A dam. Half the length of California. Thirty Billion Dollars. Nearly one million people moved. Endless amounts of water towering above MOUNTAINS. Culture, history, land, animals, love, and respect all gone. For what you might ask? All for resources that we (as a world) could get much faster, and cheaper for both financially and emotionally. Have you not seen your peoples' pain? Their glee and happiness is slowly, yet surly, ebbing away. You are pretty darn close to lining them up on a wall and shooting them one by one like beer cans on a wall. Except, these people aren't, by any shape or form, mere and meek beer cans. They have a culture that is much deeper than words can express, a love that no lover could even dream about. It is the government and their hype ego that is smothering, compressing, and burning their passion for their home like stomping on beer cans.

I repeat, can you not see these peoples' pain? No, I don't mean of just the towns people near the river, I mean of people worldwide. Yes, It would be great to have all those resources... yet do you really and truly think that it is worth it? All of the possessions that you could get, you could get later. Other mines would be made; the coal and oil will soon come have patience. Have the patience that so many people think of when they hear the grand name China. After watching the Disney movie "Mulan" thousands upon thousands saw what great wisdom, patience, and grace China had. Do you really want to destroy that respect by building a dam? Who really cares who has the biggest dam in the world? Don't try and claim that you are the best because you have the biggest, the best, the longest, and the tallest anything because all in all, it won't save your life. Don't try and out number Brazil by building this culture-destroyer. Why? Because, and I speak of the future generation, NO ONE CARES!

You know what? The word gone comes up a lot when you talk about the Three Gorges Dam. Mountains will be GONE. Archeological sites will be GONE. Homes will be GONE. Ancient buildings will be GONE. Already endangered creatures that have a VERY high risk of being... you guessed it... GONE. I want to become a zoologist and a veterinarian, and I was very perturbed by that statement. There is one type of dolphins, endangered, which have less than 100 remaining and is currently struggling with staying alive due to pollution. Now won't you guess where these beloved creatures would be when the dam is completed... you got it (its becoming a habit) GONE GONE GONE.

So much would be lost from building this project. Don't build this for your country; choose not to make this dam for the WORLD, for there is far much more to be lost than there is to be gained.
You will hear from me again,
Ashley Kruythoff.

Tempe, Arizona
I am an engineering student and plan to build and (or) repair such great structures. I have always been fascinated with dams (the construction, environmental aspects, social aspects, and mostly disasters from failed projects) so you can imagine how I first felt about the biggest dam that is being built, during my lifetime!

Well, I too plan to watch this documentary on the project, if my kids can hurry up on trick or treating so I can be at home by the time it shows. After reading most of the political, environmental, social, and engineering aspects of the project, I am undecided on China's immense effort to build the dam. I am from a culture that thrives on historical imagery and tradition. So hearing that part of China's history will be inundated is a very sad fact.

From an optimistic standpoint, the environmental consequence thrives on the fact for flood control. After all, this is a dam's main function. The negative consequence is the land the water will cover. Many people, wildlife, and artifacts will be directly affected.

If environmentalists want to argue of the negative impacts, their main source of reference can be the Glen Canyon & Hoover Dams. After all, they did cover much "Indian" (I too am Native Am.) land and a beautiful region was inundated, not too mention the ecological system of the Colorado River was severely tampered with. However, the positive note for the project can be referenced from the same place, Glen Canyon & Hoover Dam. If it were not for these immense structures, there wouldn't be large cities such as L.A. or Las Vegas. Food for the western portion of the US thrives from fields that are irrigated from the dam's reservoirs. And people like The Sierra Club want to return the inundated regions back to there, I guess uninundated states (what a mud hole that would be!!). The list goes on and on about the positive and negative consequences. This probably will be the last great structure of its kind, at least on earth!

But if one were to step back and look at the whole picture, the sad fact is that the dam is for man to thrive. What would you want as a source of power, nuclear or hydroelectric? After all, isn't this the concept we all do every single day of our lives? Destroy things too make a better life. Forgetting about all the minor details, what we ruin through our daily behaviors. If so, we're all guilty of such projects. No matter what we say or do, its human nature too be ignorant. CAN'T WAIT TO SEE THE SHOW!

I am a second-generation Mainland Chinese born in Taiwan,I have never been to China,but we learned the same Geography and History. We have beautiful history related to beautiful geography.But now the most beautiful part of China will be traded in to the politically-motivated ambition,and people have no say of theirs.It reminded me of the Emperor Qing who sacrificed millions lives to build this Great Wall of China, Like the saying goes-IT TAKES THOUSANDS DRIED BONES TO MAKE A GENERAL FAMOUS.It only sacrificed ancient Chinese historic sites,precious animals and beautiful histories that can only be visited in books.

Jeff Rice
San Jose, CA
Before seeing this film, the Yangtse was just another river to me.

Through Perry's inspiring imagery, both of the landscape and the people of this area, I now feel some attachment, and with that some responsibility for what is happening there. Would that every person in America could see this, and our collective concerns be focused on those organizations that are, or could have influence on this critical situation.

While the debate on whether to build the dam or not has many arguments and issues, some of which may be just unknowable at this time, I think that this film makes the point very effectively, that there is more than enough reason to slow down and make further evaluations before this project is rushed into completion.

The impact on the ecology and cultural history, and the potential dangers to so many people, warrant further efforts to find more complete answers to the questions illuminated in the film.
Questions such as alternative energy sources, preservation of cultural history, potential ecological disasters and human catastrophe, have all been given short shrift in a process that we Americans have been unwittingly funding for many years.

If this were to happen within America, the outrage would have brought the project to a halt until the necessities were more compellingly proved, and the safety of the environment and people more effectively guaranteed.

The very least we should do is to see that no more funding from US sources is used to build the dam until the best engineering possible can be
applied to defray the ecological and structural risks, just as we would insist on doing in our own country.

But as in the case of sweat shop labor, where we have until recent times tacitly approved a somewhat different standard when the violations were occurring in venues outside our national boundaries, we have overlooked a potential human tragedy, simply because it was out of sight, and out of mind.

Thank you Ms. Perry, your vision has given us sight.

Chris Bucoy Brown
San Francisco, CA
I have found the program "Great Wall Across the Yangtze" quite unsettling. Certainly in the way that was intended-- it is incredible how much will be devestated and will be put into real peril-- but I am also shocked how Ellen Perry is able to depict the Chinese as alternatively desparate, arrogant and downright unintelligent. The worst image was of a man working on the Three Gorges project talking about the use of US capital in the building of the dam, then laughing. The irony of that situation should make anyone laugh. Out of context, it seems this man is laughing in the way a mad scientist would in some awful fiction.

This is in contrast to the entirely white cast of "international" (read: Western) scientists and experts, who were cast in an almost sniggering position, continually questioning and showing awe in the Chinese inability to see the light of environmental and humanitarian concerns. It is the old Victorian attitude of white man's plight, with Audrey Ronning Topping shaking her head wondering why the Chinese government can't figure out how beautiful the countryside is that they are about to ruin. Perhaps if only the Premier would take a romantic cruise downstream, as her family has had the priveledge to do a number of times over three generations, he would see that he would have to stop the dam in its tracks.

Add to this sentiment the visual depiction of impoverished common people about the river as pitiful and helpless, and you have a new orientalism, mixing Pearl S. Buck "Good Earth" peasant sentimentality and Tom Clancy new Cold War antagonism and stereotyping.

One stereotype had certainly been attacked: that of Chinese superiority in math and science. Suddenly, these old depictions were thrown out the door as an American geologist intelligently described how the Three Gorges Dam would never be able to handle the silt problem, while his Chinese counterpart was only shown protesting, speaking about vague complexities in computations.

Ms. Perry says that it was never her intent to criticize the Chinese government. I don't believe that this is true, especially given the epilogue, explaining that despite internal criticism, proof of corruption and early accidents, the government charges on. This is good and fine, but only if Ellen Perry had been able to attack the Chinese government without the kind of irresponsible overtones that we come to expect from Olympics coverage, not PBS documentaries.

I applaud Ms. Perry's bravery and courage to make this film. This issue was something that I had only heard of in passing, and I hope that this program does a good job in opening the eyes of people who might not otherwise concern themselves with problems a world away. As people continue to learn more about this problem and become involved in fighting the injustices related to the building of this dam, I just hope that we also learn how to stay respectful of the people who are directly affected and involved in the Three Gorges project.

Rochester, NY
The program addressed problems of manpower needed to transport artifacts and participate in digs. I am a college student and was wondering if you knew of any organizations that utilized US concern to help the chinese government with this problem. Although there are many sides of the issue to weigh I wish the Three Gorges area had some hope of being saved. If we can not stop the government from proceeding with the dam, perhaps we can help save some of the beautiful things that are so integral to world history. If you know of anyway that I can volenteer my time to this effort (since I do not have a significant amout of money), please email me. As for the program, I found it very informative and an intellegent addition to my Tuesday night. Thank you.

please go to the Resources section and you will see that there are organizations you can link to such as the International Rivers Network and the Three Gorges Action Coalition that use grass roots efforts to raise awareness and help change the situation. There's also an activist group you can lind to at:


Bill Henry
Chattanooga, TN
I was privileged to be Ellen Perry's school principal for much of her young life. It makes me very proud to see her take on a subject of such importance. The battle that the Chinese face over this dam is much the same as we faced in the 1930's in Tennessee with TVA. We have come to see the overall benefits of the project of taming the river. It did cause some to lose their homes and some Indian artifacts were lost. Much can be saved as happened with the Aswan Dam in Egypt.

The future benefits to human beings verses the benefits of saving of the record of past accomplishments is always to understand or to know. And also important is the balance of the long-term eco-needs against short-term needs. One can never really know because you cannot run a test that will tell you how things will work. Good men must think and pray and do what they think best.

I am sure that Ellen has done a great job in presenting both sides, actually many sides. My prayer is that all sides will work to make it a win-win-win-win for all their concerns. As a Christian who trusts Jesus, example and teachings, and thus think as He thinks, I believe it can be done if we look to everyone's needs and compromise our wants. Good work, Ellen!

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