Forced Migration and Political Functions of the Three Gorges Project in China : A Critical Review

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-77
Number of pages16
Journal / PublicationJournal of Comparative Asian Development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019


This article presents a systematic literature review of the Three Gorges Dam (TGD) project with a focus placed on the experience of the massive number of forced migrants the project created, and a critical evaluation of the project’s proclaimed objectives. Despite the state-proclaimed comprehensive, development-oriented protection for the migrants, many have been found to suffer from different “impoverishment risks”. The proclaimed objectives to improve people’s wellbeing in terms of power generation, flood control, and improving navigation are found to be poorly realized. To account for the remarkable discrepancies between state promises and project outcomes, this paper seeks to provide an explanation from a political economic perspective. It argues that the dam project has been, by nature, a subject of political appropriation through which different state leaders consolidate their own powers in different times. The project’s proclaimed developmental objectives are far from its primary focus.

Research Area(s)

  • China, Forced migrants, Impoverishment risks, Political economy, State power, Three Gorges Dam