News / Asia

China Mekong Dam Project Generates Growing Controversy

China Mekong Dam Project Generates Growing Controversyi
X
February 26, 2014 8:05 PM
China has the greatest number of dams in the world, though its plan to construct a dam on the cross-border Mekong River is increasingly creating controversy. In 2011, the government in Burma, also known as Myanmar, halted the two countries' joint Myitsone dam project after protests at home. U.S. based experts think more transparency from China can help ease the disputes. Colin Lovett narrates this report for VOA's Liyuan Lu.
Liyuan Lu
China has the greatest number of dams in the world, though its plan to construct a dam on the cross-border Mekong River is increasingly creating controversy. In 2011, the government in Burma, also known as Myanmar, halted the two countries' joint Myitsone dam project after protests at home. U.S.-based experts think more transparency from China can help ease the disputes.

China not only has built the world’s largest hydroelectric dam - the Three Gorges Dam -- it also has the greatest number of dams in the world. Besides building dams in China, Chinese businesses are a top builder of dams abroad.

Chinese banks and companies have helped to build hundreds of dams in dozens of countries, particularly in Africa and Southeast Asia, according to figures from the group International Rivers.   

Methodology questioned

Richard Cronin, the director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Stimson Center, specializes in researching hydroelectric dams on the transnational Mekong River.

“Chinese companies are involved in four, possibly five, of the 11 mainstream dams, as well as lots of dams on tributaries," said Cronin. "So, China's role is a big factor in all infrastructure development, particularly in Laos and Cambodia. But it is also a particularly big factor in the development of these dams."

The methods being used to build the dams are increasingly coming under attack, however, because of the projects' environmental and social impacts. And China's plan to build a dam on the Mekong is causing particular concern.

Darrin Magee, an associate professor of environmental studies at Hobart and William Smith College, said, "I think one reason for the controversy is a lack of clear data. A clear understanding of how much these dams are going to impact flows downstream. Flows of water and flows of silt, basically.”

Lack of transparency cited

The Stimson Center’s Richard Cronin said China has no transparency because it does not disclose hydrology data, information Beijing views as a state secret. To further complicate matters, Cronin said government departments lack coordination and each dam is regarded as an independent project.

The most well-known Chinese-built dam in Southeast Asia is the Myitsone dam in Burma. Located on the Irrawaddy River, the $3.6 billion dam is a joint venture between the China Power Investment Corporation, Burma's Ministry of Electric Power, and a private company.  Burmese President Thein Sein suspended the project in 2011, however, after domestic protests.

At a panel discussion, Sun Yun, a fellow at the Stimson Center, said the Myitsone dam project is a classic example of Chinese policy-making by participants who have different interests.

“China's central government, which is Beijing, local government, which is Yunnan province, and the business interests, China Power and Investment, prioritize different things,” she said.

She said Beijing hoped to maintain good relations with Burma, while the Yunnan provincial government wanted to use the project to become an energy hub for China’s southwest. As for the China’s Power and Investment  Corporation, their main consideration was profit.

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
February 26, 2014 11:00 PM
If you US government and companies are interested in dam projects in Southeast Asia as shown by pivot-to-Asia policy, you know you are not restricted from offering your own bids. You can show your transparecy of your plan.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid