Des barrages sur les fleuves de Chine

De tous les problèmes de la Chine, aucun ne sera plus critique à long terme que sa façon de résoudre la tension entre développement économique et protection de l'environnement. Nulle part les conséquences de cette lutte ne sont plus claires que dans le sud-ouest du pays, sur les contreforts de l'Himalaya dans la province de Yunnan.

Dans le Yunnan coulent trois grands fleuves asiatiques : le Mekong, le Salween (ou Nu), et le Jinsha. Tous prennent leur source sur le grand plateau tibétain et coulent parallèlement de l'angle nord-ouest de la province jusqu'au sud-est asiatique. Ce sont les derniers fleuves intouchés de Chine, néanmoins désignés pour être sacrifiés à l'insatiable soif de puissance du pays. Des projets envisagent l'érection de dizaines de barrages le long de leur sinueux cours à travers les montagnes du Yunnan.

J'ai eu l'occasion de voir un de ces fleuves ainsi que le site envisagé pour l'un des barrages les plus controversés du pays, lors d'une récente randonnée à travers l'étonnante Gorge du tigre bondissant, au nord de la ville de Lijiang, dans le nord du Yunnan. Pendant sa descente depuis le toit du monde, la rivière Jinsha, affluent du puissant Yangtze, cascade à travers cette gorge d'une quinzaine de kilomètres en direction de Shanghai et de la mer de Chine orientale. Si, ou plutôt quand le barrage sera érigé sur la rivière, il contribuera à l'effort énergétique des villes et des usines du littoral chinois.

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