Asia
Infographic

Hydropower Dams in Southwest China

More than 8 million ethnic people have been relocated to make way for 130 mega-dams (planned, under construction, or completed) in the Mekong, Yangtze, Red, and Pearl River Basins in Southwest China.

Part of the Mekong Policy Project
Southeast Asia

This map shows the status of 130 mega-dams planned, under construction, or completed in the southwest Chinese localities of Yunnan and Sichuan Province and the Tibetan Autonomous Region. These dams are going up on the mainstream and tributaries of major Asian rivers like the Yangtze, Pearl, Mekong, and the Red – the latter two are major transboundary rivers which flow into Southeast Asia. If all of these dams are completed, they could generate more than 180,000 MW of electricity. These localities have an actual potential generation capacity of 100 MW each. To put that into perspective, the entire US hydropower fleet is 100 MW. More than 8 million people have been relocated out of the deep upstream canyons of these rivers leaving them mostly devoid of human population. Most of those people are ethnic, upland peoples whose livelihoods are totally upended in new resettlement zones. Finally, viewers should note the Salween River in China has no dams planned. In 2013, plans for 13 dams on the Salween in China were suspended by the Yunnan provincial government citing interest to develop the river basin into a major ecotourism zone.

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