|Abstract or Summary
- In 2003, due to the dramatic growth of economy, China’s National Development and Reform Commission proposed to build 13 dams on the Nu River to fulfill the nation’s rapidly growing demand for hydropower. The 13 dams that comprise the Nu River Project (NRP) are considered among the biggest hydropower development projects in the world. Once completed, the project will generate 131.4 billion kwh of electricity per year. However, international and domestic criticism regarding the project’s economic and environmental viability has made it one of the world’s most controversial development projects due to its potential adverse environmental impacts and its displacement of large numbers of people. The debate about whether NRP should be built has continued for more than a decade. During this time, NRP was suspended twice -- in 2004 and 2009. It was ultimately approved in 2013. This paper used the Multiple Stream Approach (MSA) to examine the policy process associated with the NRP. Specifically, it explored the factors that help explain why the project was suspended during the early stages (2003-2009), but approved at the later stages (2009-2013). Secondary qualitative data was analyzed to draw a distinct picture of the background, issues, solutions and interactions of one or more individuals, groups, communities, or institutions involved in the policy-making process. The qualitative data included a wide range of existing literature on NRP published in English and/or Chinese. This literature consisted of books, research papers and government reports, official policy documents and newspapers that discuss the social, economic and political context of the decision-making process of NRP. The findings showed that public participation is not the only factor that drives policy changes. The public had neither the power to influence the decisions nor technical capability to engage effectively with the decision-makers. To this extent, this research carries implications for improving public/citizen advocacy in China’s public policy-making process by strengthening public participation and enhancing social accountability among public officials and governmental agencies. Equally important, the application of MSA demonstrates that policy entrepreneurs can devise political strategies to advance their goals.