Talking with Peter Hessler (page 3)
Talking with Peter Hessler
page 1, page 2, page 3,
What will happen to the construction of the Three Gorges Dam?
  I don’t think there’s any sign that they’re going to stop the project, and it’s already at a very advanced stage. They had some high-profile corruption cases this year along the river, particularly in Fengdu, which is close to Fuling, but I don’t get the sense that there is a concerted opposition to the project. Actually, almost all of the locals I talk with tell me that they support the dam, because they believe that it will raise the standard of living. But they haven’t heard many of the arguments against it, because of China’s control of the press.
  In the fall of last year, President Clinton signed a trade agreement with China. What’s is your opinion on all of these agreements?
  I’m strongly in favor of increased contacts with China. I don’t believe that there’s any reason to believe that sanctions will quicken change — they certainly haven’t in Cuba. In any case, political change is the business of the people who live here, and I’m far from convinced that the average Chinese wants to see the government fall. Most people are concerned with smaller issues — improving their living standards, getting their kids through school. Eventually, I believe, the people will demand more systematic improvements, but until they reach that point I don’t think it’s our business to try and push them towards it. The most valuable thing they can gain from the outside world right now is a sense of what’s out there, the range of options, and eventually they can make their own choice on their own terms.
Are you doing any touring in the U.S. when it comes out?
  Not that I know of. I think I’m going to do some interviews while I’m home for Christmas, but I’m planning on returning to China unless HarperCollins specifies otherwise. As of now, they have no plans for a tour. To be honest, I think I’d rather be here in Beijing doing more writing.
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