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China Urged to Halt Myanmar Dams

Author: Wall Street Journal [USA], Published on: 6 July 2011

A coalition of Myanmar dissident groups called on China to halt a series of dam projects it is building... the latest sign of rising hostility toward Chinese investment there. The call comes as sporadic fighting has continued between Myanmar troops and ethnic insurgents in dense jungle areas near Myanmar's borders with China and Thailand, including areas close to some of the dams...[D]issident groups...say that as many as 10,000 people have had to flee and that resentment over the dams is a significant contributing factor to the conflicts...Dissidents had been stepping up their complaints about Chinese investment amid signs it is increasing rapidly...Activists say the investments harm the environment and help support Myanmar's harsh military-backed government, which is accused of a wide range of human-rights abuses, including forced labor and rape, while failing to boost living standards for average citizens. Western governments...maintain tough economic sanctions against Myanmar that block investment in such projects, but a growing number of dissidents are beginning to question the sanctions, in part because Chinese investment has undermined their effectiveness.. Much of the recent fighting has occurred near Chinese-backed dams that are opposed by local residents, with nine planned or under construction by Chinese companies in Kachin areas, according to the Burma Rivers Network, an advocacy group that represents dam-affected communities and uses the country's former name. The group in mid-June cited the dams for "fueling further conflict" and "not benefiting the people of Burma," while other dissident organizations have tried, unsuccessfully, to pressure Chinese leaders into halting the projects altogether...

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