Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
been embankment dams that store water for irrigation, located near population centers in
the eastern and southeastern regions, this prevailing tendency is rapidly changing. A re-
cent geospatial study of the distribution of dams in China over the past fifty years shows a
cleartrend:ashydropowersurpassesirrigation astheprincipal policyobjective inwater-re-
source planning, dam construction is creeping inexorably westward in order to take advant-
The vast majority of electrical power from these rivers will be sent eastward to coastal
cities in Guangdong Province, such as Guangzhou and Shenzhen, where industrial, com-
mercial, and residential demands are high. This “Send Western Electricity East” (Xi Dian
Dong Song) policy, initiated during the Tenth Five-Year Plan (2000-2005), is being fa-
cilitated by high-voltage direct-current transmission lines, cutting-edge technology that
Chinese engineers have helped to develop and that allows electricity to travel long dis-
tances with minimal losses. As I show in subsequent chapters, there is considerable debate
among scholars and policy makers about whether the Send Western Electricity East policy
represents an economic boon to communities in the western regions or merely a perpetu-
ation of existing regional inequalities, a form of “internal colonization” that promotes
coastal development at the expense of historically marginalized areas (D. Goodman 2004).
The Lancang and Nu Rivers, therefore, represent two crucial threads in the story of devel-
oping the hydropower capacity of the west to continue economic expansion in the east.
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