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

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
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.


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