By Peter Ford
A’EYAKU, China, April 12, 2016
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.
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