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Publication by NSA Professor Covell Meyskens on Three Gorges Dam

December 5, 2017

In a chapter titled “Building a Dam for China in the Three Gorges Region, 1919–1971” in the forthcoming book Water, Technology and the Nation-State (Routledge, June 2018), NSA Professor Covell Meyskens highlights three notable features of Chinese efforts to build the Three Gorges Dam between the 1910s and 1970s. First, Chinese leaders exhibited the late developer’s penchant for state-led industrialization. Second, Chinese elites conceived of the Three Gorges Dam as the centerpiece of a program to technologically re-engineer the Yangzi River to boost national power and overcome China’s position of international weakness. Lastly, due to insufficient domestic capital, elites formed partnerships with more technologically advanced countries. These three trends resulted in two technological styles. The dominant technological style was technocratic. Only during the Great Leap Forward did a Maoist technological style gain prominence, putting more stock in mass mobilization and national voluntarism than technical expertise and industrial equipment. 

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