Environmentalists in China are celebrating after controversial plans to build a series of giant hydroelectric dams on the country’s last free-flowing river were shelved.
Activists have spent more than a decade campaigning to protect the Nujiang, or “angry river”, from a cascade of dams, fearing they would displace tens of thousands of people and irreparably damage one of China’s most spectacular and bio-diverse regions.
Since the start of this year, hopes had been building that Beijing would finally abandon plans to dam the 1,750-mile waterway, which snakes down from the Tibetan plateau through some of China’s most breathtaking scenery before entering Myanmar, Thailand and eventually flowing into the Andaman Sea.
On Friday, campaigners said that appears to have happened after China’s State Energy Administration published a policy roadmap for the next five years that contained no mention of building any hydroelectric dams on the Nu.
“I am absolutely thrilled,” said Wang Yongchen, a Chinese conservationist and one of the most vocal opponents of the plans, which first surfaced in 2003.
Wang, who has made 17 trips to the Nu region as part of her crusade to protect the river, said geologists, ecologists, sociologists and members of the public who had been part of the campaign could all take credit for halting the dams.
“I think this is a triumph for Chinese civil society,” the Beijing-based activist said.