Before narrating anything about my hometown to you, I’d like to quote a line in the movie drama composed by Zhangke Jia, an avant-garde Chinese director who wins the golden lion for best film at the 63rd Venezia Film Festival, saying : “An ancient town with one thousand years of history is now demolished in ten months. It will of course arose loads of problems” (Still Life, 2006)

After Thursday’s demolishment : Who will protect our historical sites and antiques?

According to reports from CNN, the last cluster of rural homes in areas slated to be flooded in China’s Three Gorges Dam project has been demolished as the height of the reservoir rises, state media said Friday. In this picture shot on Thursday, smoke rises from 13 buildings demolished in the old area of Kaixian County in Chongqing, my hometown.

Thirteen buildings housing 457 households in a county in southwest Chongqing municipality were demolished by dynamite in four seconds, Xinhua News Agency said yesterday. The Kaixian county seat had existed for 1,800 years.

This is not the single case as to demolishment of ancient counties. The official survey indicated that there are 1,282 historical sites in this whole area, 470 of them can be dated back to Han Dynasty (202-220 BC) and some 300 sites had existed since Ming Dynasty. But, most of them are not under effective protection.

Zhangke Jia’s movie, for instance, can be regarded as a documentary which describes the personal lives of residents living in Fengjie, another ancient town existing for more than 1,000 years located in “Three Gorges region”. However, their still lives have been completely messed up due to this dam project organized by government. The government noted that their home will be flooded within a year because this whole area is the reservoir region of the big dam and forced them to remove to somewhere else.

China has totally forced 1.3m people to leave from their homes to make way for the rising water, which is scheduled to be finished by 2009.

For years, China had pushed ahead with construction of the Three Gorges project, saying it was needed to help fuel the country’s rapid economic growth and dismissing most warnings of environmental peril. Recently, however, officials have made candid statements that the country could face a catastrophe if it fails to act quickly to stop riverbank erosion and other problems caused by the dam. These problems will be discussed in my next entry.