Context:

The first two generating units of the world’s second-biggest hydroelectric dam were officially turned on in southwestern China.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-I: Geography, GS-II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About China and its large hydropower dams
  2. Important Rivers of China

About China and its large hydropower dams

  • China is the world’s leader in hydropower capacity, with a total of 1.302 terawatt-hours as of 2019. Canada is a distant second with 398 TWh.
  • As befits the global leader, China is home to four of the world’s largest hydropower plants, including the massive Three Gorges dam and Xiluodu, with a capacity of 13.86 GW.  

Chinese Dams in news recently

  • Despite environmentalists criticizing China for putting up massive dams on the Yangtze River and its tributaries, Chinese authorities proceed with hydropower construction as they seek to reduce the carbon footprint of electricity generation in the country.
  • The Baihetan Dam, built by the Chinese Three Gorges Corporation, will be the second-largest hydropower generating facility in the world – it comes second after the largest hydropower project in the world (also in China) the Three Gorges which has a capacity of 22.5 GW.
  • Recently, another massive hydropower project became fully operational in China, the Wudongde hydropower plant on the Yangtze River – the Wudongde hydropower plant would have the capacity to produce 38.91 billion kWh annually at full capacity. This will be the equivalent of saving some 12.2 million tons of standard coal and eliminating 30.5 million tons of carbon dioxide annually.

Important Rivers of China

Yangtze River

  • Yangtze River is the largest and longest river in China, even in Asia (surpassed only by the Nile of Africa and the Amazon of South America).
  • It originates from the Tuotuo River on the southwestern side of the snow-draped Geladandong, flowing from west to east through 9 provinces and city of Shanghai before running into the East China Sea.
  • Yangtze river is responsible for half of China’s agricultural produce and 35% population of China lives along it.
  • Hydroelectricity is generated by the massive dams on the river including the Three Gorges Dam.

Yellow River

  • Huang He (yellow river) is a perennial river cutting across the loess plateau and it is the second longest river of China. It is the highest sediment carrying river in the world that shifts constantly.
  • It originates from Kariqu Stream on the northern side of Bayan Har Mountans in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, flowing from west to east and finally pouring into Bohai Sea.
  • It is “the cradle of Chinese civilization” as its basin, specifically, the Wei valley that cuts across the long Ordos loop, was the birthplace of ancient Chinese civilizations and the most prosperous region in early Chinese history.

Heilongjiang River / Amur River

  • Heilongjiang River (black water) forms the border between the Russian Far East and Northeastern China. It is also known as the Amur River.
  • It rises in the hills of western Manchuria and as it flows through China, Mongolia and Russia, it can be called an “international river”.
  • Within the river basin, there are abundant mineral resources and fish stocks, especially Salmon and Huang Fish.
  • The Amur is an important symbol of, and geopolitical factor in, Chinese–Russian relations. The Amur became especially prominent in the period of the Sino–Soviet political split of 1956–1966.

-Source: The Hindu

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