"Officially" payments were made (Washington Post did an article about it last week) but there are widespread complaints that a substantial amount of the money was misappropriated by corrupt local officials (or never appropriated in the first place). There were some protestors at the opening but they were quickly removed. The net effect, a substantial number of these people were forced off thier land with little or no compensation. The project is extremely questionable (on so many levels; technical, political, archeological, financial, social) but the Chinese are high on engineering accomplishments at this point in their history. The current and last couple Premiere's all have engineering backrounds. That said, the flood control and power generation aspects of the project made the concept very attractive. The idea of damning the river goes back a lot farther than the current regime (or even the Communist Party).