Chinese envoy pushes for Myitsone dam

The Chinese delegation visits Aung Myin Tha model village in Myitkyina Township, Kachin State.

Hong Liang, Chinese ambassador to Myanmar, has urged Kachin State ethnic ministers and MPs to continue with the Myitsone dam project.

Hong Liang and Chinese Counsellor Wang Yu visited Myitkyina Township, Kachin State, on June 2 and held discussions with the state government committee and Shan and Lisu ethnic representative ministers on Friday.

The Lisu minister said: “We discussed development in the border areas, peace, trade and use of advanced techniques. The Chinese delegation said the relationship between the two countries would bloom. They told us to encourage the public to back the Myitsone dam project which would boost development. The state government committee said the public would make the decision. We discussed regional development, implementing the project in accordance with the law and repairing weak points in the bilateral relationship. We didn’t discuss timber smuggling and the border drug problems but the chief minister urged them to address those issues in accordance with the law. They said they would support measures to solve issues on the border.”

Hong Liang said: “China wants the government to discuss the Myitsone dam after taking advice from the public. The union government is in control. I would like the projected implemented. We need to communicate with the public.”

The ambassador met the northern Shan ethnic committee.

Sai Htein from the Shan ethnic group said: “We don’t know about the project because the government and the company did not tell us about it. Most ethnic Shan earn a living along the Ayeyawady River in Kachin State. That’s why they worry about the project because they don’t know its effect.”

The delegation visited orphanages in Mann Khein and Sitharpu wards in Myitkyina and donated rice, cooking oil and beans.

Environmental conservationist Dr Kyaw Thu said: “The project shouldn’t be implemented. There are hopes for peace under the new government but China is not acting like a good neighbour. It could help. For example, it should participate in the Wa issue and other armed conflicts. China should renew its diplomatic policy towards Myanmar.”

Dewi Thant Sin of the Myanmar Green Network said: “We will always oppose the project. There are many options to generate electricity. In arid areas, solar energy can be generated. We don’t need more large hydropower projects. If the project continues, no peace talks will be made.”

Environmentalist Nyo Maung said: “The Chinese are pressuring for the project to be continued. There are many other places to generate hydropower. Myitsone has much cultural heritage. There is an old church which would be flooded. It isn’t a suitable location.”