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 Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid