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Archive for Sunday, June 1, 2003

Briefly

June 1, 2003

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Beijing: China's Three Gorges dam begins water storage

China began filling the reservoir behind its gargantuan Three Gorges Dam today, a major step toward completion of the world's largest hydroelectric project.

The Three Gorges dam project has been controversial ever since it was proposed in the early 20th century, partly because of the mass relocation of villages and more than 1 million residents.

Construction of the dam began in 1993, despite objections of environmentalists who contend the project will worsen pollution and fail to control chronic flooding along the Yangtze. The project is to be completed in 2009.

The national legislature approved the dam in 1992. Critics also have argued that the dam could be vulnerable to earthquakes and have objected to the inundation of millions of ancient artifacts.

Beijing: Nepal hands over Tibetan refugees to Chinese officials

Police in Nepal handed over 12 to 18 Tibetan refugees to Chinese authorities on Saturday in what activists said was a break with Nepal's past tolerance of Tibetans trying to leave their Himalayan territory.

The group included women and children as young as 6, according to activists and an American Tibet scholar who followed the police motorcade from the Nepalese capital of Katmandu to the Chinese border.

"It was a very tense, very depressing situation," Robert Barnett, a professor at Columbia University in New York, said by telephone from Katmandu. "It suggests a major change, in that Nepal will be willing to do China's bidding in this area now."

Activists voiced concern for the refugees' safety. Tibetans who leave the Himalayan territory without permission can face prison or torture if returned, they say.

The U.N. refugee agency called the deportation "a blatant violation of Nepal's obligations under international law."

The State Department called on Nepal to return to its previous practice of allowing Tibetans to seek protection in Nepal. "We are outraged by this development," State Department spokesman Lou Fintor said.

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