News / Asia

Chinese Development Projects in Burma Draw Local Protests

Chinese Development Projects in Burma Draw Local Protestsi
X
April 25, 2013 3:49 PM
Earlier this month in western Burma, hundreds of villagers, activists, and workers protested against a China-backed pipeline project. Similar protests have erupted at Chinese-backed energy and construction projects across Burma, forcing Beijing to re-think its development strategy in the country. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Bangkok.
Daniel Schearf
Earlier this month in western Burma, hundreds of villagers, activists, and workers protested against a China-backed pipeline project. Similar protests have erupted at Chinese-backed energy and construction projects across Burma, forcing Beijing to re-think its development strategy in the country. 

The protest in western Rakhine state was the largest and most organized public opposition to the Burma-China pipeline project. Activists were twice denied a permit to assemble, but demonstrated anyway. Several were arrested.

Activist Wong Aung says there is too much at stake to remain silent.

"Such as, you know, the fishing ground. We are being restricted," he said. "Locals are not getting any quick compensation or kept [from] losing their livelihood.  And … the local people did not get any job opportunity and most of the people are being exploited when they are going to work in the Chinese company."
 
Although an Indian and Korean company are also involved, the twin oil and gas pipelines are mainly backed by China.

When finished around May, they will carry much needed fuel for China's growing energy needs.

Activist Ko Tun Lwin spoke to VOA last year when grievances over the China pipeline were building. He says the problem is that residents are kept in the dark [not told what is going on] as construction moves forward.

"There is not transparency at all although project constructions have already began on our land," he said. "Farm lands were confiscated.  Forest and mountains were destroyed because of the project construction."

The story is similar at other China-backed projects, like this copper mine protest that turned violent last November.

The $3.6 billion Myitsone hydropower dam is another controversial project that the government suspended in 2011 amid concerns over its environmental impact.

Analysts like Ralph Cossa say authorities are learning they cannot ignore these protests.

"It's a message, it's a wake-up call both for the Burmese government and for the Chinese that they have to, sort of, take local considerations into effect a little bit more, they need to be more effective in dealing with public relations.  I'm sure that they will be.  Again, you know that we've already seen the Chinese start to take some positive actions in this regard and I expect that that will continue," he said.

VOA contacted China’s Embassy in Burma about the controversy. In an e-mail response, authorities acknowledged the right to protest but also defended the pipeline project as promoting development and livelihoods. 

It says the Chinese state oil company spent $14 million building infrastructure, schools and hospitals along the pipeline and will spend a further $2 million per year.

It remains an open question whether that compensation satisfies local Burmese, who are increasingly exercising their new political freedoms.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs