Mekong Eye

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Will China save its last undammed river?

In a remote corner of southwestern China, close to the Myanmar border, the towering Nu River gorge narrows to a frothy boil of rushing water, its powerful flow creating swirling eddies.

Thrown across the river from one rock face to the other hangs a flimsy suspension bridge. “No entrance” reads a sign on its locked and rusting gate. “For construction only.”

The abandoned bridge is the sole hint here of a lengthy environmental battle that may be nearing its end. For more than a decade, activists have fought a state-owned hydropower company’s plans to build giant dams on the Nu, the last natural river in China. Now, dam opponents say they scent victory.

By Peter Ford

A’EYAKU, China, April 12, 2016

Christian Science Monitor

In a remote corner of southwestern China, close to the Myanmar border, the towering Nu River gorge narrows to a frothy boil of rushing water, its powerful flow creating swirling eddies.

Thrown across the river from one rock face to the other hangs a flimsy suspension bridge. “No entrance” reads a sign on its locked and rusting gate. “For construction only.”

The abandoned bridge is the sole hint here of a lengthy environmental battle that may be nearing its end. For more than a decade, activists have fought a state-owned hydropower company’s plans to build giant dams on the Nu, the last natural river in China. Now, dam opponents say they scent victory.

They cite several reasons: China’s slowing economic growth is flattening demand for electricity. Authorities are spooked by geologists’ warnings of earthquake risks near proposed sites. And in what may be a change of heart, China’s top leaders are sending new signals of respect for the environment.

Read more at Christian Science Monitor

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