In Meeting with NLD, Myitsone Investor Says It Hopes to Restart Project

Construction of the China-backed Myitsone dam project in Kachin State. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — The main investor in the controversial Myitsone hydropower dam in Kachin State has expressed a desire to restart the suspended project, according to members of a National League for Democracy (NLD) delegation that traveled to China earlier this month.

NLD Central Executive Committee member Nyi Pu said that the China Power Investment Corporation (CPI), a Chinese state-owned company that had committed most of US $3.6 billion needed to build the dam, raised the issue at a dinner meeting in Beijing.

“During the dinner, they told us how much the Chinese respect Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and how they wanted to keep the Myitsone project going,” said Nyi Pu, who led the 12-member NLD delegation that traveled to China for 10 days at the invitation of the Communist Party of China.

“We just replied to CPI that we are not the ruling party, so we don’t want to make any comment about it,” Nyi Pu told The Irrawaddy.

The Myitsone dam is a 6000-megawatt hydropower project planned for construction at the confluence of the N’mai and Mali rivers, which meet to form Burma’s largest river, the Irrawaddy. It is part of a seven-cascade dam project mainly financed and built by Chinese state-owned companies. Much of the electricity it was to generate was scheduled to be exported to China. Slated for completion in 2017, it was to be the 15th largest hydroelectric power station in the world.

In September 2011, however, Burmese President Thein Sein suspended the project until at least 2016, when his term in office expires. He cited environmental concerns and widespread public criticism. NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi was among the many public voices calling for the dam’s suspension.

The news that CPI is still pushing to resume the project met with an outcry from activists who say that completing the dam will do enormous damage to the environment.

“The Chinese say it’s a development project. That may be true for them, but for us it would be a disaster,” said Ja Seng, president of the Kachin Women’s Union, which is based in the Kachin State capital Myitkyina, about 45 km downstream of the dam site.

She also insisted the impact of the dam would not be confined to Kachin State. “This is a national concern. Resuming the dam project could cause political instability, because the Irrawaddy River is a lifeline for all the country’s people, not just for the Kachins,” she said.

The NLD delegation’s visit to China is just the latest sign of warming ties between Burma’s largest opposition party and its powerful northern neighbor.

On April 22, the newly appointed Chinese ambassador to Burma, Yang Houlan, met Suu Kyi at her home in Rangoon, following up on a visit by his outgoing predecessor, Li Junhua, in March. The Chinese embassy has also donated 1 million kyat (around $1,000) to the NLD National Health Network several months ago.

“They are courting anyone who is likely to be in power in the future,” Ko Tar, a prominent writer and educator, said. “They will try to find any potential openings to advance their interests.”

As a strong opponent of the project, Ko Tar pointed out that the dam would be located on a seismic fault, and would result in the demise of cultural values and biodiversity in the region.

“The Chinese will keep looking for ways to get the project going again, but people in power should know that they can no longer do anything they like, as they did in the past,” he said. “Any plan to resume the dam will be bitterly opposed, for the Irrawaddy represents Burma as a whole.”


12 Responses to In Meeting with NLD, Myitsone Investor Says It Hopes to Restart Project

  1. It should be totally obvious to everyone now, in whose interest the Chinese are plundering Burma. Look, all these maneuvers just show how desperate they are to hang on to the honey-pot. They can’s let go of all these “goodies” that they want to exploit.
    Burma is much more important to China than China is to Burma!
    As an old saying goes: “If you give the Chinaman your little finger today, tomorrow he will own your village, your mountains, your rivers, your land, your daughters”
    Endorsing the copper mine at Letpadaung was a huge mistake that Suu Kyi made. Now the Chinese think they can get everything by bullying and bribing wanna-be-President-Suu Kyi and her party. To misquote her: “Use Burma’s mountains and sacrifice the livelihoods of poor farmers in order to promote my selfish ambitions”.
    The Chinese will now bribe all the clueless political parties in Burma (not more expensive than bribing Than Shwe and Tay Za which the have already done).
    By the way, the Chinese Embassy in Burma now uses a Facebook page (ironic since Facebook is forbidden in China) to spew out propaganda and cajole the naive Burmese “netizens” who tend to think Facebook is the word of God. LOL

  2. Those selfish chinese selfish still think that they can still do every thing as they like in Myanmar as before! All our brothers and sisters ….it is time to show our unity n courage that we r ready to fight or die in order to save our Ayeyarwaddy. Exile those chinese vampires out of Myanmar!!!!!

  3. Independent expert opinion is necessary on this issue in term of environmental aspect. Do not politicize on this issue. Be considerate and do business way to get win win situation in both sides-for ordinary Burmese and concerned ethnics. Or It wastes our time and slow economy in Burma. Or ask other rich oversea countries to invest 3-4bilions in Burma at once.
    Let China go and take back some from them. We, ordinary Burmese needs rapid development in all aspects. Take action, less talk because we are poor and have no gun. Than shwe can wait and wait and talk and talk but we are not interested in playing game with than shwe in than shwe’s killing play-ground.

    • If you all do not trust China, go and visit China and see what are they doing in the development of economy. Chinese will less talk but more work.

  4. No to Myitsone Hydropower Dam.
    Communist Chinese Company must give up any hope of restarting Myitsone hydropower dam project.
    Irrawaddy River is life of Burmese peoples. Irrawaddy River is history of Burma. Irrawaddy River is very important part of Burmese culture and history. Burmese peoples migrated by using Irrawaddy.
    We can not let build any Dam on Irrawaddy River, May-Kha and Mali Kha River.
    Please, respect Burmese peoples’ wish. Burmese peoples will not let any company to build Dam on Myitsone regardless who becoming next Government of Burma.

  5. For this time being, it is correct to say so “We just replied to CPI that we are not the ruling party, so we don’t want to make any comment about it,”. However, sooner or later 2015, this issue would be ( NLD ) your homework by juntas”. Again remember, former junta Thein Sein has said too ” Not in my period “. Therefore, be a good student and learn well what your people are saying ” Objection “.

  6. NLD is not dumb enough to say “Yes” to China for this matter. Grabbing Tiger’s tail? If the Tiger is toothless and with no claw, maybe “Yes”. China is like a Tiger with poisonous teeth and with sharp claws.

  7. When she was under house arrest, she said something. Now she become a politician and changing her statement. Well, she will see her result in 2015 election. People in Myanmar are mainly poor but not stupid.

  8. Well China has full control in Mandalay. The sign boards, hoardings are all in chinese language. Anyway NLD is right to say they are not in power. Everybody knows how China has control Burmese business by collabrating win the past with junta.

    • Where are the 969 signs in Mandalay? Boycott Chinese shops and stop eating those weird pig body parts on sticks! Everyone will become Chinese in Burma, now that the Rohingyas are in camps. Is that what Peking wants? They might as well disband the Tatmadaw and all those pesky ethnic armies near the dams and the pipeline, except of course the UWSA, which is a PLA proxy.
      Long Live Miandian, a loyal vassal state of China!

  9. Don’t give them any power projects to China Companies because they are going to kill quietly Myanmar. Bear in mind !

  10. Be careful of China companies when they talk about power projects ! They don’t care people as long as they can make money .Let us see how far they can do power projects. They try to kill half of Myanmar s’ people.

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