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Friday, 21 July, 2000, 11:34 GMT 12:34 UK
Three Gorges corruption scandal

By Beijing correspondent Adam Brookes

The Chinese Government says nearly 100 officials have been convicted of corruption while working on the controversial Three Gorges Dam project.

Reports said 97 officials had been punished, including one who was sentenced to death for embezzling more than $1m.

Three Gorges
The dam will create a 600km reservoir
Local authorities in the city of Chongqing have also launched an investigation into the use of funds intended to resettle people affected by the dam.

The Three Gorges Dam project is the largest of its kind in the world.

It is a hugely-expensive endeavour to dam China's Yangtze river in the name of hydro-electric power and flood-control.

The billions of state dollars that are being poured into it have made it fertile ground for corruption and it now appears that the project is infested with corruption.

Gambling

China's official news agency, Xinhua, mentioned the case of Hyang Faxiang, a local government official who embezzled more than 15m yuan - that's over $1m - investing much of it in a hotel.

Yangtze flood
China hopes the dam will stop devastating floods
Wang Sumei, an accountant, stole about $80,000 of money intended to resettle local people from the areas that will be flooded when the dam is completed. He reportedly used the money to gamble.

The list goes on and on. Government auditors have been quoted as saying that, altogether, $52m in resettlement funds have gone missing.

The dam project is also being criticised outside and inside China for the impact it will have on the environment.

Its design and construction standards have been questioned by experts and some activists in Beijing have even questioned wether it will be able to fulfil its stated purpose of flood-control.

But the dam is a prestige project and the Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Ronghi has pledged that construction will go ahead as planned.

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See also:

21 Jan 00 | Asia-Pacific
China uncovers corruption rackets
16 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Chinese villagers dig up tombs
16 Mar 99 | Asia-Pacific
China dam faces cash flow crisis
23 Mar 99 | Asia-Pacific
Chinese dams damned
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