PR Campaign Begins for Suspended Myitsone Dam
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PR Campaign Begins for Suspended Myitsone Dam

By BA KAUNG / THE IRRAWADDY Friday, February 17, 2012

A Kachin lady models for a photo near Myitsone, situated at the confluence of the Irrawaddy River, and a favorite sightseeing spot in northern Burma.

China Power Investment Corporation (CPI), the major investor in the suspended US $3.6 billion Myitsone dam project in Burma, has reportedly embarked on a public relations campaign in Kachin State in the hope of restarting the project in the near future.

On Thursday, media groups inside Burma reported that over the past two weeks, CPI employees have been distributing pamphlets extolling the benefits of the megadam project to locals in Aung Myaytha and Mali Yang villages in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State.

A villager in the area was quoted in the report as saying that “the pamphlets said that the Myitsone project will benefit the local residents and it will not have any negative impact because it will be constructed in a very systematic way.”

The report comes five months after Burmese President Thein Sein made the historical decision to suspend the project until at least 2016 when his presidential term expire. He cited environment concerns and public criticism; pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was among the many public voices calling for the dam's suspension.

The decision to abort the multimillion-dollar hydropower project angered the Chinese government which called for “friendly” consultations with Naypyidaw to resolve the matter while insisting that “the Myitsone hydropower plant is a China-Myanmar joint-investment project which has gone through scientific feasibility studies and strict examinations by both sides.”

A 6000-megawatt dam project planned for construction at the confluence of Burma's largest river, the Irrawaddy, the Myitsone dam is part of a seven-cascade dam project mainly financed and built by Chinese state-owned companies. Much of the electricity it was to generate was scheduled to be exported to China.

Many assumed that the construction of six smaller hydro-dam projects in Kachin State were also halted along with Myitsone dam closure in September.

But the latest reports indicate that construction is ongoing at those smaller dam projects. Sources have also reported that CPI officials have visited the dam sites last month when they conducted meetings with local officials aimed at implementing the projects.

Several observers in Kachin State say they believe that CPI and the Chinese investors are still intent on realizing this project despite the popular concerns within Burma.

Earlier in January, Chinese energy lobbyist Zhang Boting published an essay stating that the Myitsone dam construction will contribute to poverty alleviation efforts in Burma. The essay was published on the website of the Chinese government’s most authoritative mouthpiece, The People’s Daily.

Zhang is the deputy secretary-general of the Chinese Hydropower Engineering Association in charge of international projects.

CPI also published an essay recently on its website, describing as objective Suu Kyi's criticism of the ecological problems of the Myitsone dam project, but saying that the Burmese democracy icon “is not a professional ... and so cannot comprehensively and accurately evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of construction of hydropower projects and dams.”

Patrick Boehler contributed to this report.

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A.M.O Wrote:

What ! PR Campaign !

What are you talking guys(CPI) !

You guys might even get SUED by Local Residents (Kachin State & Downstream - Sagaing Div etc), Hm!

You guys don't even understand the POWER of environmentalists worldwide.

Dream On ! CPI - just go on living in the world of Dinosaur Technology, Hm !

And nobody look up to China as a Role Model of Democracy & Environment, Hm!

Just look at the way you guys have messed up things all over Africa, Hm!

kerry Wrote:
China should give Burma breathing space.

Hydropower dams from a foreign nation that has not supported the people, that destroy villages and kill and dispossess people for China's needs is the real issue. Environmental effects and highly questionable assets is next.

President Sein made a clear promise, that was heard globally.

Daw Suu Kyi clearly knows far more about the needs and concerns of the people of Burma than China, who supported the errant military to kill its own people for decades. She may not be a professional dam builder, but there is no doubting her integrity, deep intelligence and compassion for the people, and her leadership capacity.

China could learn from this. Perhaps forcing Tibetans at gunpoint to celebrate their New year, wave a million alien flags under extreme duress and killing monastics is not a good look for a massive nation wanting its unelected leaders to be credible with its other neighbours!

Sidney Wrote:
“is not a professional ... and so cannot comprehensively and accurately evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of construction of hydropower projects and dams"??
Who's he trying to kid?
Any Tom, Dick and Harry can imagine the consequences of blocking off the main river confluence of our country.
What ever will happen to the migration of the fish that populate the river and feeds millions of our country?
What ever will happen to the flow of the river that irrigates the entire length of our country?
And with most of the electricity produced siphoned out to leave us still in the dark, what benefits are they babbling about?
Time for us to ensure our people in the Kachin country side don't get gullible to fall for the much experienced marketing and PR antics.

tocharian Wrote:
I thought China doesn't interfere in the internal affairs of another sovereign country. Isn't that what they always say on the UN Security Council. What are they doing spreading lies in Kachin State? Get rid of the dam Chinese meddling in Burmese affairs!

Ohn Wrote:
Seemingly what the Chinese thinks is good is way off the mark and not compatible with human existence.

For all the money, which in Chinese term is religion and only religion, as a nation, China has yet to learn what is good for earth.

One day their Harvard educated son may come back saying they should stop getting rid off tigers and rhino's from earth for use in "medicine".

The beauty and value of river. You can have 3 billions Chinese, no one can understand it. Shame , a lot of others cannot either.

That dam WILL go on. And others to follow in years to come. some money for nearby land owners, iPAD's for the rest of the country. Pictures of rivers for generations to come.

Grandma's earings for lolly!!!

Than Lwin Wrote:
It is an absolute nonsense stating that “the project has gone through scientific feasibility studies and strict examinations by both sides”. Burma in its current state of affairs, has almost zero capability to do scientific feasibility studies and strict examinations. Chinese side’s impartiality is also questionable. There is clear conflict of interest and Chinese will be the most benefited by the project. Eventually, Burmese people are the only ones who will bear full blunt of ecological disasters and consequences if the project proceeded in this manner. Our leader, Burmese people’s legitimate leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has never called for abandoning the project altogether. She just called for suspension and invited involvement of professionals, Burmese and independent foreigners alike (Chinese included) to do comprehensive studies. After evaluating all pros and cons, the project may be revived if benefits outweigh negative impacts. But definitely not now.

Than Lwin Wrote:
We have no problem with PR campaign by Chinese as long as they carry it out via legal means, accordingly to Burmese laws (How can Chinese find a way to distribute pamphlets in Burmese villages while we ourselves need permit from military government to sleep overnight in a place other than our own home, even inside our own village?). But Burmese cannot accept China’s bulldozing through their idea by bullying tactics.

tocharian Wrote:
This just proves how desperate these greedy materialistic and ethnocentric Chinese are to exploit Burmese natural resources. Every half-wit can see that they are lying if they say it's "for the benefit of the poor people in Burma". People in Burma are not that dumb anymore(lol). They found out that if you give a Chinaman your little finger today, tomorrow he will own your village and take away all the riches from your country without any qualms. Pure exploitation!

Mg Min Nway Wrote:
We must prevent any attempt to resume construction of Myitson Dam.
Any hope of CPI in this project must be given up.
All construction equpments must be removed as soon as possible.
Their activities is not only insulting Burmese people but also damaging the reputation for Thein Sein.

Bill Gov Wrote:
The Chinese in CPI are going to buy the hearts of the villagers with their Yuans and corrupt practices. This is no PR campaign but one that is corrupt.

The Country Lover Wrote:
It's better not to start the myitsone project must stop . The myitsone land is golden land that's why china has taken all the sands. Sometimes the government act smart actually they are so stupid , I cannot imaging . The president MR. THEIN SEIN make good decision to stop MyitSone project. Now BURMA is going to be under Development country then later slowly the public and government must find solution and doing on their own. Because end of the day everyone i mean all citizens has to be cooperate of not outsider will take advantage.

Sutt Su Wrote:
How DARE they knowingly oppose and campaign against the "Heart-Felt desires" of majority Myanmar population !!!!! Can we go into CHINA and distribute leaflets against the desires of Chinese population?

Oo Maung Gyi Wrote:
Is there any surety and gurantee from Chinese Government to say that any undesirable thing or disadvantages occured upon completion of the dam does China can give replacement or damages to Burma? If not it is better to stop our natural mighty and beautiful Irrawaddy river, let it be as usual.

Khar Wrote:
looks like the chinese are interfering inthe internal affair of burma. unless u want to let us to have a say in your occupied land of tibet, stay away from burma. you have sent more than our share of illegal chinese to our country.

Duzawa Wrote:
Please stop that dam project. If not there might be a great possibility of the return of the Public's anger. DASSK is not a professional for that sort of thing. Let me question zhang if you know the professional code of conduct when you plan to build such an enormous dam impacting millions of people downstream and if you have not taken any lesson from the bad impacts of the dams in your country. Misleading is the breach of the professional code of conduct. Let's maintain our peaceful brotherhood by giving up such project.

M.Haji Wrote:
Chinese never make friends, they only have their own interest which is universal truth and the present military lead government has their lion share in every chinese projects.

Dave Wrote:
Almost nobody wants the dam - who's supposed to make the decisions in a democracy? Why not generate power by burning the $$$$ you've made in profit from other imposed development projects?

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