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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 23 Jan 1996

Vol. 460 No. 3

Written Answers. - Chinese Dam Project.

Seán Haughey


93 Mr. Haughey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the Government's views in relation to the Three Gorges Dam Project in China having regard to human rights and environmental issues; if these views have been articulated at EU level or conveyed to the Government of China; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1008/96]

I am aware of this project, which as the Deputy knows is one of the largest hydro-engineering projects ever undertaken. I have closely followed the debate on its feasibility, efficacy and environmental and social consequences. I appreciate the significance which the Chinese Government attaches to the completion of this project as a means of increasing very significantly the supply of clean hydroelectrical power thereby lowering China's over-dependence on coal fired energy.

I understand that the Chinese Government are well aware of the serious environmental concerns which attach to a project of such vast dimensions. Similarly, I would hope that the Chinese authorities will take fully on board the concerns regarding the social consequences of this project, which is expected to involve the relocation of over one million people. We would wish that the realisation of the objectives of this project could be achieved in a way which took full account of important environmental and social consequences for the Yangtze basin.

The Government, with our partners in the EU, have consistently raised the issue of human rights with the Chinese authorities at every appropriate opportunity and will continue to do so. The Chinese Government has been made aware of international concern about this project. I would emphasise that the successful completion of a project of this vast scale requires the backing of public and private investors worldwide. International concern about the environmental and social consequences of this project are shared by leading international lending agencies. The World Bank for example has withheld funding. It is in the first instance a matter for the Chinese authorities to determine how to meet these concerns so that the objectives behind the project can be realised.