This is the world’s most riskiest project.
May 30, 2021 12:29 PM   Subscribe

Damming the Great Bend. The Chinese government is apparently committed to building what may be the world's most difficult dam on the Yarlung Tsangpo river. It would be a megastructure in the Himalayas, closely involved with the Indian border, in the world's deepest canyon, would control a major source of water for India and Bangladesh, and in a seismically dangerous area.

If completed, this could be the world's biggest dam - a record currently held by China.
posted by doctornemo (15 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've worked on projects like this, but Kinthup wins.
In 1880 Kinthup was sent back to test the Brahmaputra theory by releasing 500 specially marked logs into the river at a prearranged time. His British boss Captain Henry Harman posted men on the Dihang-Brahmaputra to watch for their arrival. However, Kinthup was sold into slavery, escaped, and ended up employed at a monastery. On three leaves of absence he managed to craft the logs, send a letter from Lhasa with his new intended schedule, and send off the logs. Four years had passed. Unfortunately his note to alert the British got misdirected, his boss had left India, and nobody checked for the appearance of the logs.
(from the Wikipedia article)
posted by away for regrooving at 1:04 PM on May 30 [18 favorites]


What could go wrong?
posted by Windopaene at 3:37 PM on May 30 [2 favorites]


This sounds like a terrible idea all round.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 3:41 PM on May 30 [4 favorites]


Hydropower is good, carbon-neutral, although there aren't many customers for the power nearby in China. Messing with water rights of your neighbors is a crazy diplomatic time bomb. Building dams in such a geologically unstable area is not very safe. Yeah, terrible idea all round sounds right.
posted by Bee'sWing at 3:52 PM on May 30 [12 favorites]


With there already being border conflicts in the past year with India, do you really want to aggravate a nuclear power with an authoritarian right-wing nationalist leader (Modi) further?

I mean, in terms of real-politik, China's strategy should be an inversion of ours: doing things which avoid mobilizing an international coalition to block you (in this case, giving necessity to India and the SE Asian nations).

China prevails if the CCP gets more time to develop their Belt and road initiative. They lose if they get into a new cold war with an India/Asian/USA Alliance, especially as India would be happy to take China's place in the world industrial supply chain.

But tyrants going to tyrannize I suppose. This just demonstrates that Xi Jinping, like Putin, is less of a chessmaster and more of, well, a bully.
posted by LeRoienJaune at 4:48 PM on May 30 [6 favorites]


Besides from irreversibly damaging what is a sacred river for Tibetans, dams like this on the Mekong river also have adverse downstream impact for wildlife and communities (not that the Chinese government cares, in fact the leverage may be a pro for them).
posted by monocot at 5:13 PM on May 30 [6 favorites]


Apparently the upper echelons of the CCP include quite a number of hydro-electric engineers - so in a perfect demonstration of, "when all you have is a hammer, everything starts looking like a nail" - dams seem to be the preferred solution to any/every problem.
posted by Barbara Spitzer at 6:13 PM on May 30 [5 favorites]


With there already being border conflicts in the past year with India, do you really want to aggravate a nuclear power with an authoritarian right-wing nationalist leader (Modi) further?


Michelle Obama's observation bears repeating. Sometimes the people at the top aren't actually that bright.
posted by ocschwar at 8:27 PM on May 30 [3 favorites]


“It’s nuts. It’s completely nuts,” said Dr Ruth Gamble

Folks, I think that we've found a new and incredible source of eponysteria
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:34 PM on May 30 [2 favorites]




A fine post, kliuless. I'm sorry I didn't add a link to it as a previously.
posted by doctornemo at 6:08 AM on May 31


The fate of human civilization and near term survival of our species is largely now in the hands of China and India and how they negotiate the management of these resources in the effort to provide for their populations. I miss the old days. It wasn’t like America or Russia were threatening to cut off each other’s water supplies by building hydroelectric dams.
posted by interogative mood at 2:10 PM on May 31


I mean, in terms of real-politik, China's strategy should be an inversion of ours:

I think that right now China's testing the limits of what it can get away with. Military bases on artificial islands in international waters, the Uyghur genocide, breaking its commitments to keep Hong Kong relatively autonomous, blocking Taiwan's access to covid vaccines and really preventing other parties from recognizing Taiwan at all, I mean there are any number of things they've done that should have led to effective coalitions opposing them but to date nothing's been done. I'd expect that as long as the people with money think there's more money to be made in China than elsewhere it'll stay that way. If governments speak out against any of this, or do anything else to upset China, then disproportionate trade restrictions materialize out of nowhere. Unless and until governments and capital are willing to take the financial hit that action against China would entail I don't think there will be any real opposition to any of this.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 6:38 AM on June 1 [1 favorite]




Reading all the extra links I am not pleased to find that my initial impression posted above was not in any way wrong.

This is like the Platonic ideal of a bad idea.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:46 PM on June 1 [2 favorites]


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