China Sends Anti-Terror Troops to Three Gorges Dam


2004-09-14
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HONG KONG — ; China has sent anti-terror troops with helicopters, patrol boats, armored cars and bomb disposal robots to defend the massive Three Gorges Dam project as part of a counter-terrorism program, official media reported.

"The important anti-terrorism measures taken by the military police on the main bridges, dams and hydro-electric stations have basically been completed," the China Times newspaper reported. It said military police had been training a "pool of talented anti-terrorist professionals."

The troops are elite graduates of paramilitary People's Armed Police training programs who specialize in counter-terrorism. The deployment was the last step in a "comprehensive anti-terrorism network" aimed at protecting major bridges, dams and power stations, the report said.

Unspecified threat

While no mention was made of who China suspects could target the dam, Beijing was outraged in June at a U.S. suggestion that Taiwan could attack the project as a counter measure to any Chinese invasion of the island.

Chinese military officials at the time warned that any attack from Taiwan would provoke a devastating response from China and vowed that "the dam will not collapse and cannot be destroyed."

The weekly newspaper didn't say how many troops would be stationed at the dam. But it suggested that attackers could conduct pinpoint strikes key infrastructure projects like dams. It said damage and injuries resulting from such attacks would be magnified if an attack was staged during the summer flood season.

Vulnerable time

Last week, officials put the Three Gorges dam on alert as flood crests surged along the swollen Yangtze River. They also suspended river traffic through the dam's locks.

The dam was expecting the largest flood peak in more than 100 years after continuous rain in the river's upper reaches. Water moved through the dam at a rate of 60,000 cubic meters (2.1 million cubic feet) per second, official media reported last Wednesday.

China has recently stepped up high-profile military maneuvers in its "war on terror", staging anti-terror maneuvers in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa on Sunday, citing a rise in global terrorism since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

On the Web:

International Rivers Network

People's Daily Web Special on Three Gorges

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