unaware of the scale of the dam projects that would affect them and the timeframe within
China's EIA Law (Chinese National People's Congress 2002a), most villagers had not at-
tended such hearings. For example, in Xiaoshaba village, just upstream of the Lushui Dam
site, where residents had already been resettled, a majority of residents reported a gener-
al lack of information about the projects; their primary source of information was word of
mouth through other villagers.
( n = 195)
( n = 204)
( n = 399)
Do you think dam construction is beneficial for China? Yes: 183 (93.8%) 190 (93.1%)
Yes: 68 (34.5%) 172 (82.7%)
Do you support this project?
Yes: 176 (90.7%) 172 (84.3%)
Note : Chi-square test ( † significant at 0.01 level). Villagers were asked specifically about the dam project closest to
them (Maji, Lumadeng, Yabiluo, or Lushui).
A major factor influencing knowledge about the dam projects and participation in public
hearings appears to be facility in standard Mandarin Chinese, or Putonghua (Foster-Moore
2010). Most residents in the Nu River Gorge speak either one or more minority languages
or a local dialect of Chinese, making it difficult to access Chinese-language materials from
government authorities or the media. Geographical isolation compounds this effect; in
Lushui County, located in the lower portion of the gorge, where proficiency in Mandarin is
more common, most residents had at least heard about the dam projects from their neigh-
bors or relatives or through the media. But in Fugong County, where only about half of the
villagers in the survey claimed proficiency in Mandarin, only about one-third of them had
any knowledge about a project that could soon displace them, flood their land, and change
their livelihoods forever.
Only forty-five households, approximately 11 percent of villagers in the survey, reported
that their land had been officially measured in order to determine compensation levels in
the event of displacement and resettlement, mostly land in the southern part of the water-
shed where the dam projects were proceeding most quickly. Of those households whose
land had been measured, about half reported that a hydropower company official did the