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China Aims To Rescue Gorge Relics

August 12, 2000

BEIJING (AP) _ China is accelerating efforts to rescue cultural relics from the giant Three Gorges Dam area, with plans to spend $12 million over the next year, an official newspaper said Saturday.

The money is equal to the total amount of special funds China earmarks each year to protect all its major cultural relics, the People’s Daily said in its overseas edition.

Archeologists are racing to save relics before the dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric project, begins filling up in three years.

The area, along the Yangtze River in southern China, is rich in sites of historical and cultural interest, many of which will be submerged when the 600-foot-high dam is completed in 2009, creating a 350-mile-long reservoir and displacing at least 1.3 million people.

The government says the dam will control chronic flooding, which as recently as 1998 killed 4,150 people, and produce electricity to feed a growing economy.

Critics contend the dam’s impact on the area’s cultural legacy will be devastating and say relics that could shed light on Chinese history along the Yangtze’s middle and upper reaches will be lost.

In 1992, following a three-year investigation, Chinese archeologists formulated a plan to protect 1,087 cultural sites in the Three Gorges at an estimated cost of $120 million, the People’s Daily said.

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