Xiaonanhai Dam on the Yangtze River in Chongqing, China

Xiaonanhai area, the richest collection of endemic fish and threatened species in China, goes under waters


The project was initiated by Bo Zilai, Communist Party secretary of Chongqing, before his fall from grace in 2012. Cao Wenxuan from the Institute of Hydrobiology has said that the aquatic ecosystems of a 600 km stretch of the Yangtze has been significantly changed by the Three Gorges Dam, with reduced habitats and breeding conditions for the rare Chinese paddlefish, Dabry's sturgeon and the Chinese banded shark, as well as over 40 unique species. [...] The reserve is the only stretch of the upper Yangtze offering a suitable habitat for these fish, [yet] the site for the Xiaonanham Dam will submerge one fifth of the length of the Yangtze within the reserve. According to Cao, water management projects which change the aquatic ecosystems of the reserve are illegal [1].

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Basic Data
NameXiaonanhai Dam on the Yangtze River in Chongqing, China
SiteAlong the Yangtze River
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Dams and water distribution conflicts
Aquaculture and fisheries
Specific CommoditiesElectricity
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsInstalled capacity of 1760 megawatts [international rivers report]
Level of Investment (in USD)3,750,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population400,000 (amount displaced)
Start Date2012
Company Names or State EnterprisesChina Three Gorges Corporation (CTG ) from China - construction of dam
Relevant government actorsBo Xilai, the Ministry of Environmental Protection (then the State Environmental Protection Agency - SEPA), the State Council, the former chief of the Yangtze Water Resources Protection Bureau Weng Lida, former vice-chair of the NPPCC with responsibility for hydropower development Qian Zhengling, the Ministry of Agriculture
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersFriends of Nature, the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, Green Earth Volunteers, the Nature Conservancy, Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, International Rivers
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingInternational ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationBoycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Potential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
New legislation
Application of existing regulations
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Despite strong opposition from environmentalists, scientists, and even government agencies such as the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry for Environmental Protection, preliminary dam construction began on 29 March, 2012. The dam is expected to be completed by 2019.
Sources and Materials

[3] Xiaonanhai Dam
[click to view]

[1] The story of the Xiaonanhai dam
[click to view]

[2] China Proceeds on Plan for Disputed Yangtze Dam
[click to view]

Other Documents

View on the dam infrastructure Source: http://www.eco-business.com/news/china-to-flood-nature-reserve-with-latest-yangtze-dam/
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorEJOLT team at School of Geography and China Centre, University of Oxford
Last update16/02/2015