Tag Archives: Yunnan

Dams and development in China: the moral economy of water and power

Tilt, Bryan (2014). Dams and development in China : the moral economy of water and power. New York : Columbia university press. 280 p. (Contemporary Asia in the World). ISBN: 978-0-2311-7010-9.

China is home to half of the world’s large dams and adds dozens more each year. The benefits are considerable: dams deliver hydropower, provide reliable irrigation water, protect people and farmland against flooding, and produce hydroelectricity in a nation with a seeimingly insatiable appetite for energy. As hydropower responds to a larger share of energy demand, dams may also help to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, welcome news in a country where air and water pollution have become dire and greenhouse gas emissions are the highest in the world.

Yet the advantages of dams come at a high cost for river ecosystems and for the social and economic well-being of local people, who face displacement and farmland loss. This book examines the array of water-management decisions faced by Chinese leaders and their consequences for local communities. Focusing on the southwestern province of Yunnan–a major hub for hydropower development in China–which encompasses one of the world’s most biodiverse temperate ecosystems and one of China’s most ethnically and culturally rich regions, Bryan Tilt takes the reader from the halls of decision-making power in Beijing to Yunnan’s rural villages. In the process, he examines the contrasting values of government agencies, hydropower corporations, NGOs, and local communities and explores how these values are linked to longstanding cultural norms about what is right, proper, and just. He also considers the various strategies these groups use to influence water-resource policy, including advocacy, petitioning, and public protest. Drawing on a decade of research, he offers his insights on whether the world’s most populous nation will adopt greater transparency, increased scientific collaboration, and broader public participation as it continues to grow economically.

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Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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昆明 Kunming by JiKang Lee

This photo of Kunming, much like Schoenmakers’ two weeks ago, highlights the juxtaposition of traditional and recent architecture that appears so frequently in China’s urban landscape. In the foreground we can see the rooftops around of the historical and cultural centre, which according to the photographer, had been recently renovated. He also explains:

Growing up in Kunming, I felt that it was fast developing city. The pleasant climate makes it a place businessmen want to invest and live in, and it is the rest stop for travelers visiting the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau.

JiKang Lee is a freelance photographer based in Kunming. You can see more of his work on Fotokon’s blog and his Flickr.

Aurélia Martin

Chargée de communications et des médias pour l'UMR Chine Corée Japon (CNRS)

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Gender wage differences and illicit drug use: findings from Yunnan Province

Elizabeth Monk-Turner, Charlie G. Turner, Xiushi Yang, Huasong Luo (2013), Gender wage differences and illicit drug use: findings from Yunnan Province, China: An International Journal, Volume 11, Number 1, April 2013, p. 113-130.


This work compares differences in income between men and women in Yunnan, in 2003. The data collection, conducted by co-authors Yang and Luo, was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The focus is on how illicit drug use shapes gender wage differences. Little research has been conducted which examines how drug use shapes wage differences in China and the existing work that does explore this relationship in the United States yields mixed results. Utilising basic ordinary least-squares (OLS) regression analysis, differences in earnings (log income) were examined, controlling variables for drug use, experience, marital status, educational attainment, Communist Party membership and other background variables. The data provide supporting evidence that current drug users reported higher income compared to others, all else being equal.

Full text of the article avalaible on Project Muse


Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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Drought in Yunnan: ecological and water quality factors

Yang, Fangyi and Zhou Jiading (2013). Why has water-rich Yunnan become a drought hotspot? China dialogue, 29 April. (Accessed 23 May 2013). [English version]

杨方义, 周嘉鼎 (2013). 云南为什么缺水?中外对话, 4月 29日. (Accessed 23 May 2013). [中文版本]

Yunnan’s drought continues. During China’s annual parliamentary session in March, the deputy party secretary of the south-west Chinese province, Qiu He, blamed spring floodwaters that flow through Yunnan and on into other countries for the water shortages.
He proposed a system of reservoirs, dams and tanks to store that water, which could then be distributed more evenly over time and between locations. But many complained that Chinese officials were trying to pass their own troubles on to others.
Historically, Yunnan hasn’t been known for suffering droughts. Today, however, it is famous for it.
The winter and spring droughts that started in 2009 continue to plague China’s south-west, harming the region’s vulnerable economy – particularly agriculture and forestry. Cash crops such as sugar cane and coffee have been lost, and the crisis is restricting Yunnan’s economic growth.

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云南继续大旱。2013年3月,云南省委副书记仇和在全国两会期间表示:云南不是没有水,且水资源充沛,但三江春水向南流,多流到国外了。并 建议要大中小水库、坝塘、水窖一起蓄水,提高水资源时间和空间分布不均衡的解决能力。此语引发争议,很多人认为这是一些中国官员“以邻为壑”心态的体现。

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Watts, Elleka (2013) Water scarcity and social equality in China. China power. A new world order, 23 May 2013. (Accessed 23 May 2013).




Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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China’s “Look South”: China-Myanmar transport corridor

Fan, Hongwei (2011). China’s “Look South”: China-Myanmar transport corridor. Ritsumeikan international affairs 10, 43-66.

This article discusses the plan and construction of SinoMyanmar transport corridor and analyzes its implication from four dimensions: history, regional cooperation, China’s overall strategy and Yunnan’s perspective. The corridor is one part of an ambitious scheme that will put the provincial capital of Kunming at the centre of a regional free trade zone. The project is mainly motivated by China’s economic and political-cum strategic considerations, and will draw closer bilateral geopolitical and economic bond. It will not only further integrate two countries’ economy but combine both political and strategic interests. Thus, it contains India’s influence in Myanmar, and finally expands its strategic influence into Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean. Also, Naypyidaw’s isolation by western countries and the project of China-Myanmar oil & gas pipelines have given China favourable opportunities to realize its old dream of China-Burma/Myanmar transport link.

Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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