Demonizing mega projects deters progress

Source:Global Times Published: 2014-12-29 0:58:01

Water started flowing along the middle route of China's South-to-North Water Diversion Project to Beijing on Saturday. This day also marked the 12th anniversary of the start of construction after five decades of deliberation.

But the moment wasn't celebrated rapturously. In China today, many are quick to express doubts and introspection, and this is considered by some as making progress for the country.

This makes some sense, but is not suited to such a joyous day. Days before the water from the Yangtze River arrived in Beijing, many comments were widely circulated online saying this moment epitomizes a failure, which to some extent dampened enthusiasm for the project.

This negativity is considered normal since many believe the government needs to hear doubts after having heard pleasing words for so long.

However, apart from the authorities, along the route there are tens of millions of people who will benefit directly from the project. It's fitting that they and the whole country should take pride in the world's largest project of its kind. Such achievements and their immediate effects are important sources of positive emotions in China.

But why should excitement and confidence appear sinister while only suspicion becomes commendable?

In particular, these doubters of the project are just Internet commenters with unclear backgrounds and others are self-proclaimed experts. But those who insist the project brings more benefits than harm are the academicians and scientists who are behind many of China's technological advances.

It's true that the project will bring some negative effects to the ecological system. But in a nation of over 1.3 billion people, China's ecosystem is already damaged. What China needs now is the most cost-effective solution that is pragmatic and has the fewest side effects. The water diversion project is such a choice.

It is a risk worth taking to ease the thirst in northern China. The opposition is not all about the risks, but competing for regional interests and online discontent with whatever governments decide to do.

In China almost all big projects are criticized online. It seems that those who make efforts can't expect to be encouraged since many tend to find faults with whatever is done, as they claim that's how it goes in the West.

But in the West we see so much heroism in Hollywood movies and leaders in Western countries often give out praise and medals.

The Internet may have changed the rules of the game somewhat. When supporters of large projects become the silent majority, the sharp disagreement should be heard, but not responded to in most cases. Otherwise, China will be dominated by the noise of the multitudes instead of by real actions.


Posted in: Editorial

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