China Urged to Halt Myanmar Dams

Burmese dissident groups have appealed to China to stop work on a number of dam projects which have been fuelling conflict in the north of the country. From The Wall Street Journal:

Dissidents had been stepping up their complaints about Chinese investment amid signs it is increasing rapidly. Foreign direct investment commitments from China in the year that ended in March totaled $8.27 billion, or 41% of the total in Myanmar, compared with total Chinese investment of less than $2 billion by the end of the prior financial year, according to the Associated Press and local media reports. Major projects include a multibillion-dollar oil-and-gas pipeline built in part by Chinese investors across the country. It also includes an estimated 60 hydropower projects involving at least 45 companies, according to International Rivers, a California-based advocacy group.

Activists say the investments harm the environment and help support Myanmar’s harsh military-backed government, which is accused of a wide range of human-rights abuses, including forced labor and rape, while failing to boost living standards for average citizens. Western governments, including the U.S., maintain tough economic sanctions against Myanmar that block investment in such projects, but a growing number of dissidents are beginning to question the sanctions, in part because Chinese investment has undermined their effectiveness ….

The latest call was distributed by a U.S.-based advocacy group, the U.S. Campaign for Burma, and signed by more than a half-dozen other dissident groups, including the All Burma Monks’ Alliance and the All Burma Federation of Student Unions. In the statement released Monday and circulated in some areas on Tuesday, they accused the Chinese government of “completely disregarding Burmese people’s life and property” and collaborating with the Myanmar government to stop the flow of rivers in Kachin areas with megadam projects.

See also: Hydropower Dams Fuelling Conflict in Burma, on CDT.

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