Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
committee could better serve the needs of affected communities. His report, entitled The
Story of Dahe River Migrants' Petition: From “Seeking an Explanation” to “Rationaliz-
ation” (2005), was translated into English by Probe International, an environmental advo-
cacy group based in Canada. It has quickly become a touchstone for controversy between
Chinese government officials and advocacy groups concerned about the rights of displaced
Ying was given the honorary title of vice governor of Yunyang County in Chongqing
Municipality, presumably to expedite his access to local-government officials who might
have otherwise obstructed his way. Although his position carried no official authority, it af-
forded him a fair amount of latitude to go about his work in the hopes that he could make
some recommendations to improve resettlement for the Three Gorges Project. Scouring the
county archives and interviewing local residents, Ying discovered that the social problems
related to resettlement in the 1990s were only the beginning and were in fact compounded
by “leftover problems” ( yiliu wenti ) from a previous resettlement process that had taken
place in the 1970s to make way for the Dahe Dam on a tributary of the Yangtze.
Ying discovered a record of villagers' complaints and protests that spanned nearly two
decades, from 1977 to 1994; his careful research provides a kind of archaeological glimpse
intowhatcangowrongduringtheresettlement process,particularly intheabsence ofpolit-
ical accountability. Villagers throughout Yunyang County lodged a litany of complaints:
underreporting of land-area measurements during the requisition process; undervaluation
of housing for compensation; and failure to account for inflation, which made it impossible
for some villagers to build homes of similar size and quality to the ones that were inund-
ated by the reservoir of Dahe Dam. One of Ying's study participants, with the pseudonym
“Mr. Liu,” commented on the inadequacy of compensation measures during a retrospective
interview, suggesting that the government was ultimately culpable: “If you break my bowl,
you should compensate me with a bowl of the same size and quality; if you smash one of
my jars, you should replace it with a similar one” (qtd. in Ying 2005:3).
A common complaint underlying villagers' protests was the obvious discrepancy
between central-government plans and the actions of local-government functionaries
tasked with carrying out the plans. Many villagers saw a system that was rife with corrup-
tion, though Ying was more balanced in his assessment. He found little evidence of overt
corruption but did note that government officials may have siphoned off project money that
had been earmarked for the compensation of villagers. Ying concluded that they had done
so not for personal gain but to allocate funding for local projects such as roads and schools.
Nevertheless, in the eyes of many villagers, such tactics simply depleted the amount of
compensation that found its way into their own pockets (Ying 2005:6).
In the Dahe Dam case, the scope of social problems associated with resettlement ex-
tended far beyond the individuals and families who were forced to move. One group of
farmers adjacent to Dahe Dam was targeted for relocation but could not move because the
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