Saturday Afternoon, November 20, 1999:

Meeting with the Retired Engineers Association of Chongqing


This meeting was held in the Lotus Room of Chongqing Yangtze Holiday Inn. Following lunch, the delegation met with representatives on the Chongqing Retired Engineers Association. In addition to the full technical contingent of the People to People delegation, the following members of the association were present:

He Rongxu - President of CREA and Senior Engineer.

Chen Zuhua - Vice Director of the Construction Project, Reconnaissance, Survey and Designing Institution of CREA and Senior Engineer.

Wu Shibin - Director of Science and Technology consulting Department of CREA and Senior Engineer.

Cao Shuquan - Vice Chief Architect of the Construction Project Reconnaissance Survey and Designing Institution of CREA and Senior Engineer.

Yin Xuelun - Director of the Construction Project Reconnaissance Survey and Designing Institution of CREA and Senior Engineer

Liu Linhang - Vice President and Secretary General of CREA.

A statement provided by the association to explain the purpose of their group was distributed and reads as follows:

'The Chongqing Retired Engineer Association (CREA) founded on December 7, 1979, is a first mass organization with the strength of science and technology of China.

For 20 years, the number of members of CREA has been increased from 42 to 2090, distributed over 42 regional branch associations and groups. The Association consists of several scientific and technical economical (sic) bodies, such as 'the Construction Project Reconnaissance survey and Designing Institution of CREA' (B grade designing unit), Sci and Tech. Consulting Department", Xinkun Automatic Control Equipment Co., Ltd." (general agent in Changqing authorized by Japan OMRON, France SCHNEIDER, Germany SIEMENS etc.), Xiaguang Estate Assessment Office Co., Ltd." And "Xinkun Biological Company" with 8 specialty working committees which were formed according to the specialties. (Civil Building, Machinery, Chemistry, Mining Industry and Building Material, Textile, Electrical Engineering, Farming and Forestry and Economic Management). Since foundation, CREA has designed the civil buildings of 1,000,000 square meter, completed more than 3,000 projects of science and technology services for industry, agriculture and villages and towns enterprises.'

The association is composed of some of the most influential engineers in the area. Many top members are former executives and officials of municipalities. They are called upon from time to time to impart their wisdom and years of experience, education and other credentials to consult on major programs at a high level. This includes training non-professional technical workers in the construction business.

The meeting began with Dr. Nemati, delegation leader, who delivered greetings and thanks to the guests for their participation in today's exchange. The question and answer discussion would focus on Civil Engineering Projects in China by professionals in the business and academic people.

Do retired engineers return to the educational institutions to lecture or teach their wisdom? Is there a process in place to allow this?
The Association formed in 1979 by retired civil engineers. The main purpose was to offer engineering consultation and training courses. It was opened to the whole country. They set up a professional school similar to a vocational school to offer teaching for middle level engineering technology. The students that they teach are lower GPA students that could not go to college. It is funded by a foundation sponsored by the retired engineers, student tuition and some government participation. They sponsor exchange programs and provide lectures by the retired professional engineers. Seminars are also given. Many graduates from formal universities also come to the Association for further training.

The association has offered consultation to the Three Gorges Dam Project on relocation, environmental and technological areas. Recommendations were also given on the sedimentation problem. Consultations given by the Association are usually given to small and medium sized groups.

The Association members volunteer their services in many cases. The Three Gorges Dam will produce 20 Million Kilowatts. The project was initially delayed, but it is going forward now. The government is relocating people and giving assistance to those affected. Generally, more people support the project than oppose it. Most of the opposition comes from those being relocated, but the government is providing special benefits to those people. The government thinks that the dam will be partially on line by 2003 and some electricity will be able to be produced then. By 2009 the entire project will be complete and the dam will be good for the economy of China.

Scientific means are being introduced to increase production on smaller plots of land so as not to reduce food production. Also workers that formerly cut trees in upper regions are now working to plant trees where appropriate. Poor farmland is being reforested.

The sedimentation problem must be checked before it ends up at the Three Gorges Dam. This will be done by building dams at the tributary rivers and by reforestation efforts in the region. Currently, tree removal is prohibited. By reducing the sediment getting into the river system this will reduce the flushing requirements to get rid of sediment in the dam. Any sediment that ends up at the dam will be sluiced to remove it.

The most important benefit of the dam project is flood control. The second aspect of the dam is hydroelectric power and the third is navigation. Other benefits will be fishing and recreation.

The effect of covering so much populated land with water has been a concern. Pollution caused by submerging existing sites has been studied. With respect to relocation efforts, the Association is involved with consultation in moving and preserving archeological sites. There are about 1200 archeological sites and 878 have been excavated. The Truan Temple will be rebuilt with the same material higher up. Due to limited funding, only about 10% will be saved and decisions to save a building or site will be made by the Government in cooperation with the historical society.

As China becomes more market driven, the members of the association have noticed changes in engineering. Before the Cultural Revolution there were no charges for design changes because the government paid all salaries. Now the process is more market driven.

The Association members enjoy their retirement and feel that they have many opportunities to contribute their knowledge. 2090 people belong to the association. Retirement is compulsory in China. Men retire at 64 and women retire at 55 with compensation from the government. The Association members can receive money for consulting work performed for the government and private firms. Women are coming into the engineering profession, but currently there are not many in this profession. Approximately 30% of the Association's membership are women.

The Association does not have any political clout. They only make recommendations to the government. They also do not participate in the writing of national codes. There are national ASTM-type standards for materials. China standards are currently being integrated with the ASTM standards. Uniform Building Codes are not used in China. The WTO inclusion of China will not impact local building materials but should aid in equipment.

The meeting concluded with an exchange of business cards and congenial attitudes of gratitude and cooperation.

Notes by Mr. Frederick C. Levantrosser



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