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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fairi
X
Brian Padden
May 29, 2015 1:27 PM
With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
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 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 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.

VOA Blogs