In Pictures—China’s Dream of Burmese Gas

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The controversial Shwe Gas pipeline project dissects Burma from the Bay of Bengal in western Arakan State through to the Chinese border in northeastern Shan State.

Civil society groups have fiercely criticized the humanitarian impact of the scheme which has seen numerous land evictions and associated human rights abuses, and so The Irrawaddy sent its own photographers to assess the situation.

Following the pipeline’s route in Mandalay Division and Shan State, they documented the current construction work and its impact on local people firsthand on June 5-6.

Building materials, excavation machinery, backhoes, cement mixers, trucks, bags of cement and piles of gas pipes were seen scattered around. The work is taking place in agricultural fields, farms and other property where the photographers passed by.

Workers have built makeshift shelters where they rest after their daily toil. The pipeline route is then cleaned up yet many local people claim to have had their lives devastated from being forced off their land.

The Shwe Gas Movement, an NGO that is monitoring the pipeline construction, has documented a raft of human rights violations related to the project.

Its recent report “Sold Out” claims the work has directly affected 80,000 people from 21 townships displaced along the 800-km (500-mile) pipeline route. A total of 33 Burmese army battalions are currently deployed along the corridor in Arakan and Shan states to provide security.

The rights group also expressed serious concerns to the United Nations regarding the social, economic and environmental impact attributed to the Burmese, Chinese, South Korean and Indian companies involved. Set to come online in 2013, the pipeline is touted to become Burma’s largest source of foreign revenue by generating an estimated US $29 billion over 30 years.

Another report titled “Burma’s resource curse: The case for revenue transparency in the oil and gas sector,” produced by the Arakan Oil Watch NGO, claims that Burma’s revenues are set to increase by 60 percent as new gas exports to China and Thailand begin next year. In addition, the report claims 41 oil and gas blocks are currently under exploration by various foreign companies.

However, nearly all gas involved will be exported to generate power in China despite roughly 75 percent of the Burmese population not having access to electricity from the national grid, according to Shwe Gas Movement.

11 Responses to In Pictures—China’s Dream of Burmese Gas

  1. China is a crying baby right now. Time will tell that China is not our good friend.

    • A friend in need, is a friend indeed. There is never a forever good friend. However, at least, we (Chinese) did not enslave you.

      China is a baby? Then what is Burma?

  2. China-basher? Absolutely! Pro-Western pawn? Maybe

    Shortage of electricity? Hello! Myitsone Project suspension?

  3. The problem is that China did not ask the Burmese people if they minded…

    • First, provide electricity to the 75% of burmese people who don’t even have access to electricity (even in the 21st cnetury!) before thinking of making money from exporting to China and other investors. Burma cannot be naive, they must not become tools for foreign exploitation of the country’s natural resources.

    • Chinese are our uninvited guests. There are countless Chinese in Mandalay alone. How many Myanmars are in China? Not much.

  4. Most of the projects appear to be devoted to transferring Burma’s plentiful natural resources, which include, among others, natural gas, timber, copper, coal, precious stones, marine products and petroleum, to China.

  5. The out come of this Gas Pipe line will never give any benefit to Arakanese peoples. Why Arakanese peoples are keeping silent on the matter. The Rakhine peoples have strength to fight with Muslims of North Arakan but they do not have any voice to open their mouth due to Rakhine girls are now marrying with other nationality for their lively hood. Where is Rakhine spirit and racist policy. Arakan has no chances to enjoy any sort of revenue from this Gas pipe line.
    Beside, Akyab ( Sitwe ) port is going to operate Indian Company, will Rakhine peoples make any problem? The world is very small, do not have narrow minded who ever does for the good or welfare of the country should accept it. Let us stand together for the sake of all races progress and
    development so as to establish peace and tranquility in all ethnic areas.
    Since Myanmar is multi-ethnic, and multi-religion staying side by side more than centuries it is required to understand and respect each other for the stability of the country. Not necessary to make violence which can lead thousands of lives killed. Buddhism never teach to kill, now adays peoples are very much reluctant to kill human beings. Let’s make conciliation for the future bright.

    •  Rakhine people are totally against this greedy , one-sided Gas project and they have been voicing their views many times  through “Narinjara ” and their spoke-persons  such as Saw Mra Yarzar Linn, for several years.  Some  Rakhine leaders were being arrested and some were murdered by Burmese troops with the help of Indian government spies. If Myanmar (Burma) is a multi-ethnic country , it should respect the wishes of it’s national ethnic -minorities such as Rakhine, Kachin, Chin, Shan ,Kayin etc. and listen to their heart-felt voices, epecially when it is concerning with their state’s economy and civilian’s poverty.

  6. China! China! China! Repent from your sin. You’re so greedy. You have destroyed too much of our land. We do not need your help. We can build our own nation.

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