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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid