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tv   Inside Story 2020 Ep 208  Al Jazeera  July 27, 2020 2:32pm-3:01pm +03

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vented between one and 3000000 extra infections at least 26 wearing a refugees here drowned while trying to swim to malaysian shores have been found alive the coast guard says they were hiding in bushes on a small island and have been detained because malaysia doesn't recognize the status of refugees a quarter of the world's 16000000 coronavirus cases are now in latin america as infections rise in brazil colombia and argentina but they are concerns the numbers could be much higher than official figures and spain's scots alone your region is considering even tougher coronavirus restrictions if infection rates don't improve within the next 10 days the regional leaders says data from affected areas suggest the situation is spiraling as it did in march you're upset with headlines on al-jazeera coming up next year it's inside story.
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it's one of the largest dams in the world and it's being so barely tested by the worst floods china has seen in decades the 3 gorges dam was once a school for great and national pride but what impact of such mega projects have on people and the environment and how is beijing now reconsidering manages rivers this is inside story. thank you. thank you. and welcome to the program i'm laura caro it's been described as a once in a generation event floods have swamped large parts of southern and central china
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after the worst torrential rains in decades many people of dead or missing whole villages are inundated a 1000000 of people displaced the economic losses in dollars all believed to be in the billions nearly 2 months of intense rains have swelled $433.00 rivers with water in some reaching record levels trying to authorities or raise flood alerts and deployed soldiers to evacuate people and shore up levees seasonal rains a common in china but this year is flooding has been exceptional and early some environmentalists blame climate change and others are raising concerns about the country's dams amongst them as the 3 gorges that has been struggling with extreme flows of water. were trying to began building the dam in 1904 and completed it in 2006 at great expense it's the. of largest hydroelectric station with the capacity to generate 22500 megawatts of power the project was part of the chinese
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government's investment in mega dams to contain overflows of water or great crops and produce energy the reservoir is designed to prevent asia's longest river the yangtze from flooding but is being condemned by environmentalists who say it's damaged the rivers ecology and forced millions of people to relocate critics also question is jury ability and criticized the chinese government for pouring money into large scale infrastructure projects was neglecting smaller ones that are decades old and need maintenance thank you let's get the thoughts of our guests now and joining us in beijing dan wang she's an analyst at the economist intelligence unit access china service and in canberra peter mccawley he's an associate professor at the australian national university and author of banking on the future of asia and the pacific a very warm welcome to both of you to the program dan a lot of nervous eyes on the yangtze river basin how serious is the situation there
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. because there's a lack of visual data in describing the actual economic loss we did some rough back of the envelope calculation and it looks like although i'm surface it is very devastating for us to see all those dislocation of people and the damage to houses comparing to the 1908 flood this time is only about 15 percent of the economic loss and about 110th the direct damage to housing so now we have the economic g.d.p. growth for 2020 to be about 1.4 percent with this flood it's about a we would only adjust our g.d.p. forecasts by 0.05 percentage points so the economic loss is actually marginal compared to 20 years ago ok so that slightly encouraging as you said is only the economy side of things but the national emergency level is still only at
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its 2nd highest isn't it does beijing expect it to get worse because there's still a number of amount of weeks left in the rainy season yes absolutely and that's the biggest concern and also because this year we know that the economic situation after coronavirus is already very severe and we have seen a worse and job market already in the 4 provinces that are hit the most specially who bay and it's and we have seen a rising prices products and also steel because those provinces are the main produce produces and also still produces and if we have another round of floods or several more days of ring like in the biggest days last month then we'll be in serious trouble and then just to have an idea we are expecting more rain on 3. yes we do ok peter why always saying these fires they may not be as bad as the worst on
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record but they're certainly the west in decades when of course there is some people who say that the sea sorts of events indicate his old climate change. i'm not sure really i don't think that we can conclude that it might be true it might be true but this sort of climate change issue you would would it i mean we get lots of we get lots of incidents around the world in other parts of asia southeast asia india and africa and so on it people are inclined to point the problem of change my impression is that we're really looking at separate episodes now that's not to say that climate change is not important from a charge clearly is important but we do get so the away there anyway whether there's climate change or not and this would appear to be a severe. weather episode most unfortunate of course but it is basically a natural disaster ok there are frequently natural disasters in other parts of asia
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and this is what it would appear to be of course it's very serious for the region ok well let's look at the management of it is there are some $94000.00 in this yangtze river basin paid to do you believe they're helping the situation or exacerbating it. look it's very hard to say i believe that on balance. improving the situation but it's a very complicated system obviously as you say if you have thousands of dams the the whole ecology of the river systems changed so you're really moving from a system situation 100 years ago when there were almost no dams to an entirely different situation and of course the whole business of constructing infrastructure has appeared all around the world and indeed in west western countries have much more infrastructure than china has china is still actually short of infrastructure
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believe it or not and i guess china just has to build infrastructure and it will have to somehow manage you know manage the systems but clearly clearly it's difficult because there's no question that it's very difficult absolutely and that how difficult is it to manage all these downs i mean we're looking at some of them that were built in the 1950 s. in the 1960 s. and are in need of maintenance there are much smaller tributaries the small dikes but how closely are they all being monitored. as far as i know that many of the dams are actually very much underused and also because along the answer river there are many of those dams there was a beaut of our beautiful long time ago and we have seen various reports that there were basically no maintenance for many of the smaller size of the dams of course the 3 gorges dam is a very crucial part of this whole project so it is under closer scrutiny but even
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so we have seen that in sections of the 3 gorges dam there are already some signs that it may not be able to hold further rains if it happens so i would say that may be a long dance a river. it could use another round of structure upgrades and that could be another ambition that the central government need to think about because right now there are a lot of voices talking about those dams are damaging vironment not just to adjust not just to referring to the fishes species that those dams are intercepting there are normal route so some to species are entirely wiped out but also those dams are changing the local weather so we have seeing certain villages they're having their extreme weather as compared to 20 years ago so they have more droughts
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and more flats comparing to when they had no when there were no dam so it's really hard to see now that whether those dams are justified off or for them to be beauty in the 1st place ok so you mention the 3 gorges dam going to get back to that in just a moment what we do peter just sticking with these smaller dams that are up river of the larger to him of projects on the yangtze do they need an upgrade is that time to upgrade them before the stress on the 3 gorges gets too great for it to. well 1st we don't have enough information about about all of them but the chances are that they certainly do need upgrades. maintenance all the infrastructure in or developing countries across asia tends to be neglected unfortunately there's often a preference for new projects such as such as the 3 gorges dam itself rather than the maintenance but the trouble in trouble with maintenance is that it will take
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a long time it can't be done quickly we're looking at 35 in some places 10 years because as you say there are thousands of them and to to upgrade and improve these things is not an easy task so there's no quick fix here and the risk is that they do need more attention but that's something that will have to white wait for some time yet don mentioned that the 3 gorges dam which has come under a lot of stress beijing has admitted that it's quite different warmed slightly what's your understanding of the damage that's being done to it. i haven't seen the reports from beijing what is clear is that this is a severe strace for for the dam this is the this is this would appear to be the the 1st the 1st really major 'd test that it has gone through it it was completed it was completed in 2006 and has has had some upgrades
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to parts of it since then but this is the 1st severe test and so in that in that sense in that sense the this week the next week the next few weeks are a very important time not just for the region not just for the for the provinces not just for the young sea area itself but of course it's a testing time for china overall because the yangtze dam is a worldwide recognised project it's a top class project to china and and. if the dam comes through the dams of arts well. that's a further in the cup for china it's very good for china but if it doesn't it's certainly an embarrassment absolutely at dulles is that some of the figures because they're astonishing the water rose up to 163.5 metres last week at the dam the dam itself is only 185 metres high and people are saying we've said it herald today
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already in the discussion that the flooding from the upper yangtze has not yet fully hit so that others try to get some sense as to how concerned people in beijing are about this i think that austerity are absolutely watching very closely to how those flood. could evolve in the coming week. but i do think there is a relative optimism among the building or storage fees because compared to 20 years ago china does have much better capacity to monitor weather and also the change in the river in the flood so there is some base and that there could be more rains in the future but it could be contained by the end of the summer if the worst situation happens there i think the central government would do similar things what
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it did 20 years ago aid would dislocate all those villagers that could be under sarratt cut of the coming flood and to move them to other nearby provinces so this has been done before and doss already has have some experiences so i'm not actually too concerned on this thing could be out of control and that is an interesting you point point you raise there because the chinese state council's contingency plan is exactly that isn't it if the dam looks like it's going to burst then they will move all those local areas and sacrifice them if you will to mitigate the greater effect downstream we're looking at the huge city of will hand with tens of millions of people but. if you talk to phil about millions of people losing their land losing their livelihoods losing industry in that area it's going to be a huge deal. it is an o.b. quite devastating for many of those people his specially this year it's very hard to find jobs or other ways of living in
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a different city or different township. so for me it just looks like it has to be the farmers or the low income groups that always bear the cost of such kind of disaster on in some cases this can turn out to be a good thing in the long term because if the flood happens this year just like the harlem katrina happens in northern and if we move people earlier on a can reduce the economic loss and other losses in the future and for china's government i think it is the way to manage this kind of dislocation some time is too crude and that could hurt a lot of people but if it is a managed dislocation i think normally for chinese people since they respect authority in the usually have the collective type of thinking and they would normally up a and it's usually peaceful yeah that's that's an interesting point you raised and
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peter do you agree with that that it can be a managed dislocation that people will accept the situation if they've lost all their livelihoods and those already very depressed economic situation in the area and people don't you reach a certain amount of breaking point then they. yes if these things are hard to judge they're about chilled to term and long term effects in the church people may will. i will cooperate into effect they may have little choice but of course i have the time the. range of difficulties that unfollowed as a state has pointed out when you when you shift 10 or 20000000 people when you shift very large numbers of people like they have to go somewhere they have to be absolved somewhere and it's not always easy to absorb people in other areas there are often tensions when you come as a rod and the tensions are by the short term and long term because if they study.
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they look for jobs and they stand it's pointed out the economic situation in china or overall a prison is is pretty difficult it's a stressful time so you've got one crisis on top of another crisis. now at the end of the day i guess you know people have to do if they have to shift they have to shift the cost so high and tight the short and long term effects will be felt there's one other point i'd make about this stand mentioned. early on that the overall impact for the chinese economy will probably be slight from this that i might say that's our experience. with disasters else way it's a curious thing you know disasters attract a lot of attention. i did some work on the huge tsunami disaster in indonesia or in the tip of sumatra you know that's the time that seemed 100000 people when
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you at that time the tsunami seemed a major event but when you when you came back a year or so later and looked at the economics of it it did not affect the overall economy so the really impact of disasters is usually local and that's that's what i think we're seeing here they will be a big local of it that's up and in the local area it's a very large area up and down the yes young see. hundreds and hundreds even thousands of kilometers so the in that sense the event will be a very large of it but it probably won't show up really in economic statistics on the economy overall ok and then i think of economic benefit of the dam has brought that was touted as providing huge amounts of energy electricity to china has it reached its potential. i've heard different reports that the dam dams do have more potential in generating electricity and as far
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as we can tell that originally the purpose of building the dam was actually to control the flood and now it seems that it has served the purpose of providing enough power for factories along the answer river and kind in a way to help china to become the center of the global manufacturing but now this function seems quite limited and i've also heard that the central government is talking about in various conferences about changing the strategy over the role of the young of the 3 course dam because it can't be just a can't just be used as a giant power station is supposed to be helping the local economy more so now one direction is to develop its shipping capacity so we can see that all the bridges now along the answer of a delta being renovated or upgraded so that eventually the jains ships from the sea
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in the east can go directly to trans and if this can be down it will be another another i would say a renovation or a 2nd spring to use a 3 course dam that could be very promising future keeping it relevant because also beijing the communist party has been looking as a new draft laws miss in the way that it protects the young see a manages the river ecosystem and indeed is the 1st legislation on a specific river basin what exactly does it involve is it a green a more holistic approach to using the river and managing its ecology and environment this is quite consistent with china's strategy to go green and is environmental regulation has been upgraded several times. in the past 5 years and i think this new legislation is quite a targeted to the answer rivera also partly because china wants to to develop or
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redevelop on the answer of a delta and all those provinces along the answer river to make it a new engine for china's economy and environmental related industries is a big part of it so i would say it is quite uplifting to see this kind of initiative but there is not enough stress in this legislation protecting the local ecological system when it comes to space specific animal species i still think there is understatement on how important they are to local climate and to the global ecology system so that should be improved but i think it will be a very long term plan a piece of the government did admit that it's so-called what they call the mother river has quote fallen ill how would you like to see the river basin managed.
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these are often major problems with with with major rivers there's another huge river that has problems as well the meek on river we do mostly out of china with lots of damming so you've got similar problems the the there has been a tendency in the past to focus on engineering aspects and to and this is worldwide really it isn't just china but but it's certainly the case in china to focus on the engineering aspects and to not pay enough attention to environmental and social aspects of projects now this of course makes projects a lot more difficult but along the yangtze it would appear that much more attention needs to be given to environmental and social aspects in future they has already been quite a lot of discussion about environmental problems up and down the yanks that and this is one of the challenges we know the china has
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a major challenge in in cycle going green china's energy use has been rising quickly but it has brought social costs now china it seems to have taken a decision to slow the overall growth rate of course it's plunged dramatically recently but there has been a switch towards more emphasis on both environmental and social aspects perhaps more environmental than social a brazen but these huge challenges for china looking ahead diot huge and china the chinese leaders i think so far as i can see clearly recognize them but china is still a developing country it has many challenges and both of these things of environmental and social aspects need need need more attention absolutely i think the economic aspect to dan dan do you think we'll ever see another mega project like the frequency in china again. i think there's
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a very high chance because aside from being an electricity generator. actually the 3 gorges dam does a lot more than that which also included to strengthen the row of the state on a state owned companies for china because during its process of construction actually to 3 gorges dam has helped to revive many of the state owned enterprises back then about 60 percent of the inputs use attribute this dam has to be purchased from domestic sources and i have known quite a few large state on companies for example and electric machinery it was on the verge of going bankruptcy but because it was the only company back pain china i can produce the full sats of power generator so it basically got enough order from the 3 course time project a project and that is survived so by puting those giant
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projects infrastructure projects china is not just trying to generate growth and create jobs it is also trying to created this group of state back to companies that can help china to grow in the future and have competition competitive power in the world and in a way this would also help china to upgrade his technology because many of the research institutions would use those infrastructures as testing bad for their new equipment or new technology and this has become one of the key strategy for china's central authorities as well. yet the more that actually bats we're going to have to leave it there has been a really interesting discussion thanks very much soboth guests for joining us and don lang pizza mccauley. and thank you to you for watching you can see the program again any time by visiting a website that's al-jazeera dot com for father's gushing to go to our facebook page
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a tale of fingers and murderers on al-jazeera. hello again peter they'll be here in doha with your top stories on al-jazeera at least 2 people have been killed during protests against corruption and unemployment in the iraqi capital baghdad they are the 1st deaths during demonstrations since the prime minister mostafa was sworn in 2 months ago someone with the latest. this is the funeral procession for one of the protesters killed in last night here where 100 have gathered to hear. a memory game and they're marching from the past where any direct had on where.


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