Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Philosophy (MPHIL)


Political Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Chung Chien-peng

Second Advisor

Prof. Wong Yiu-chung


Thanks for economic improvements since the ‘open-door policy’ in 1978; China’s international status has been improving economically and even politically. For instance, she has become a major contributor of BRIC which is a group of four most rapidly developing countries in the world, i.e. Brazil, Russia, India and China, and the largest buyer of U.S. treasury bonds in the world. Nevertheless, a number of intellectuals like Liu and Shirk pointed out that there are still a number of difficulties – both exogenous and endogenous – underneath.1 This research would like to concentrate on one of the aspects which Chinese investigators frequently highlighted: the hydropower development.

This thesis will concentrate on the most controversial dam construction projects in China – Three Gorges Project in central China and the Nu River Project in Yunnan (hereafter abbreviate as ‘TGP’ and ‘NRP’ respectively) to examine the roles, influences and linkages of several critical actors in midst of decision-making processes – i.e. central leadership, provincial governments and the civil society in diverse perspectives. By utilizing the model of ‘Fragmented Authoritarianism’ (hereafter abbreviate as ‘FA’) suggested by Kenneth Lieberthal, I argue that the central leadership is still the most critical stakeholder who determines the success or failure of mega hydropower development projects albeit the increasing decentralization and rapid emergence of environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the recent decades after economic liberalization of China.

Besides, the thesis would sketch out the tactics of participating and negotiations in the policy making processes of local leaders and social organizations and explain the apparent deliberation for hydropower development of the central authorities and the abilities of social organizations to halt dam constructions in the latest NRP in spite of being the most deterministic stakeholder in the polity. In the end, I would summarize general findings and enrich the FA model to facilitate the predictability of the model after social and economic changes associated with economic reforms.

Recommended Citation

Wong, M. F. T. (2010). Fragmented authoritarianism and politics of hydropower in China: Case studies of TGP & NRP (Master's thesis, Lingnan University, Hong Kong). Retrieved from