Myanmar-China Watch

Myanmar Regime Signs Energy Agreement With China

By The Irrawaddy 3 April 2023

With Myanmar suffering an acute energy shortage, a Chinese delegation from Yunnan Province signed a power purchase agreement with the military regime on Sunday.

The Chinese delegation led by Wang Ning, a member of the Communist Party of China (CPC) central committee and secretary of the CPC Yunnan provincial committee, signed a power purchase agreement for the Dapein 1 hydropower plant, as well as agreements on rice, agricultural produce and fertilizer trade, with the junta-appointed ministers for electricity, agriculture, livestock and irrigation, energy and commerce, according to junta media. Details of the agreements are unknown.

Wang Ning was on a working visit to Myanmar from April 1-3 at the invitation of the regime’s international cooperation minister U Ko Ko Hlaing, said junta media.

In early March, China’s ambassador to Myanmar Chen Hai signed an agreement with the junta on the implementation of three wind power projects in Rakhine State in western Myanmar. In the third week of March, the regime’s electricity minister U Thaung Han visited China and invited investment from the Yunnan Province government and Chinese companies in Myanmar’s electricity sector.

Construction of the 240 Megawatt (MW) Dapein hydropower plant in Kachin State’s Bhamo District started in 2007-2008 and was completed in 2011. Some 19 per cent of the electricity is supplied to Kachin, with the rest sold to China, according to a 2014 report by Radio Free Asia.

It is one of the largest Chinese-backed hydropower plants in Myanmar, and the Myanmar military reportedly negotiated with China to purchase 120 MW from the power plant in the aftermath of the 2021 coup.

During his March visit to China, junta electricity minister U Thaung Han urged Yunnan’s government to continue to help the regime as it attempted to complete China-Myanmar cross-border power lines. The National Energy Agency of China said that cross-border power lines are intended to supply electricity to Myanmar if and when the country needs electricity in the future.

Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing has been urging the Myanmar people to save energy, as the power projects the regime is implementing in cooperation with China and Russia are yet to deliver results,.

The regime said it is working to fulfill the national demand for electricity by 2025.