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China's new infrastructure corridor through Myanmar faces risks of further conflicts and environmental degradation

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Article
29 October 2019

China's new infrastructure corridor through Myanmar faces risks of further conflicts and environmental degradation

Author: Nicolas Lo, China Dialogue

“Trouble for Belt and Road in Myanmar”, 21 October 2019

China’s new infrastructure corridor through Myanmar crosses war-torn regions, risking further conflict and environmental degradation

… Myanmar and China signed an agreement to establish the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC), as part of China’s Belt and Road global infrastructure initiative… that corridor is mired in conflict between the Myanmar military and ethnic armed groups…

If China wants the CMEC to succeed, its companies need to regain the public’s trust in Myanmar and show that “win-win” scenarios are not mere words… Development benefits need to be distributed equitably across the population…

One of the most prominent CMEC projects in the pipeline is the Muse to Mandalay railway… A feasibility study completed by China Railway Eryuan Engineering has been submitted to the Myanmar government, but environmental and social impact assessments remain incomplete…

Though the Myanmar government’s negotiating stance and conditions focus on financial and fiscal sustainability, many of the glaring issues with Chinese investments in Myanmar concern the socio-economic and environmental impacts of large-scale development projects on already marginalised groups. China’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have already encountered strong resistance to their resource extraction and energy infrastructure projects.

The most infamous Chinese investment project in Myanmar is the Myitsone dam... The mega-dam was suspended unilaterally in 2011 by Myanmar’s then-president, Thein Sein, and attempts to revive the Myitsone dam as part of the CMEC were met with nationwide protests and rallies in early 2019.

Protests have also arisen along the 770km pipelines that carry oil and gas from Kyaukphyu in conflict-ridden Rakhine state to Kunming, the capital of Yunnan. Communities along the route are demanding fair compensation from the Chinese SOEs for the negative impact on their livelihoods due to loss of land.

In light of these grievances, Chinese SOEs are trying to demonstrate the tangible benefits of Myanmar’s participation in the BRI. In the years since the twin pipelines’ construction, the Southeast Asia Gas Pipeline Co. (majority-owned by China National Petroleum Corp.) has donated US$25 million for the construction of schools, clinics and water supply systems for rural communities along the pipeline route.

At the Second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing in April, China agreed to provide a one billion yuan (US$144 million) grant to the Myanmar government for improving livelihoods, conducting feasibility studies for major projects, and delivering humanitarian assistance for the tens of thousands of people in northern Myanmar internally displaced by civil war.

But aid grants and corporate social responsibility will not dislodge the roots of unrest in Myanmar, which are intertwined with the Myanmar military’s long-running wars in ethnic minority states.

In order to promote socio-economic and environmental sustainability in Myanmar’s border regions, China’s new development plans need to take into account the political legacies of decades of civil war…

A long history of engagement between Chinese financing and ethnic armed groups on the border has fuelled the unregulated extraction of natural resources – in logging, mining and plantations…

… natural resource extraction has been carried out by the ethnic armed groups and private Chinese investors…

… The massive volume of investment capital from China also heightens the risks of environmental degradation. Without more stringent regulations, the CMEC’s planned road and rail upgrades threaten both rural livelihoods and biodiverse ecosystems.

Myanmar’s rapid deforestation rate is a result of increased traffic through previously remote regions…

Deforestation is also driven by the conversion of forests into plantations for agricultural commodities like bananas and rubber, backed by private Chinese investment…

These rapidly expanding plantations grow tissue culture bananas, and the clonal genetic material and monoculture production require constant applications of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. These chemicals have poisoned local communities’ water supplies and aquatic ecosystems.

As tissue culture banana cultivation depletes the soil’s fertility, agri-business owners constantly need to acquire more land for production. Some Chinese-backed plantations are now found on land used by Kachin farmers until they were displaced by fighting between the Kachin Independence Army and Myanmar’s military…

CMEC planners and corporations must consider the ripple effects of the new projects on both society and the environment…

A green BRI will need more than economic investment alone… Chinese investment capital thus far has facilitated the degradation of the border region’s ecologically and culturally diverse landscapes. A broader and more inclusive coalition of stakeholders, particularly grassroots civil society groups that are most attuned to the needs of local communities, must be involved in development planning and decision-making processes for Myanmar’s border regions.

[Also referred to China Communications Construction Co.]

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Author: 罗俊毅,中外对话

 

““一帶一路”在中緬邊境需要克服的挑戰”

… 中緬兩國簽署協議建立中緬經濟走廊,作為中國“一帶一路”倡議的一部分。如今,這條走廊面臨陷入緬甸軍方和少數民族武裝團體衝突的風險之中…

如果中國希望中緬經濟走廊取得成功,中國企業需要重新獲得緬甸公眾的信任,並證明“雙贏”策略不是空話,尤其是在邊境敏感地區。每個人都必須公平地享受到發展帶來的惠益…

木姐-曼德勒鐵路是中緬經濟走廊最著名的規劃項目之一… 中國中鐵二院已完成項目可行性研究並提交緬甸政府,但環境和社會影響評估尚未完成…

儘管緬甸政府的談判立場和條件側重於經濟和財政可持續,但中國在緬投資的許多突出問題都涉及大規模開發項目對邊緣化群體的社會經濟和環境影響。中國國有企業在資源開采和能源基礎設施項目上已遭遇非常大的阻力…
中國在緬甸遭遇最大挫折的投資項目是密松大壩… 2011年,緬甸時任總統登盛單方面暫停密松大壩項目。之後,密松大壩項目… 曾多次試圖復工,但均遭到緬甸全國各地的反對,2019年年初甚至爆發了集會抗議。

皎漂至雲南省會昆明的油氣管道沿線也爆發了抗議活動,該管道全長770千米,途經衝突不斷的克欽邦。沿線社區要求中國國企給出更高經濟賠償,以彌補土地流失對其生活造成的影響。

考慮到民眾的不滿情緒,幾家中國國有企業試圖展示緬甸參與“一帶一路”帶來的切實效益。中緬油氣管道建成以來,(中國石油天然氣集團公司下屬的)東南亞天然氣管道公司已經捐贈2500萬美元用於為沿線農村社區建設學校、診所和供水系統。

今年4月在北京舉行的第二屆“一帶一路”高峰論壇上,中國同意為緬甸政府提供10億元贈款,用於改善其國內生計、開展重大項目可行性研究,並為緬甸北部數以萬計因內戰而流離失所的民眾提供人道主義援助。

但援助贈款和企業社會責任無法從根本上解決緬甸的動亂,這與緬甸軍隊在少數民族邦的長期戰爭密不可分。

為促進緬甸邊境地區社會經濟和環境的可持續發展,中國新的開發計劃必須考慮幾十年內戰帶來的政治遺留問題…

多年來… 所有政治解決方案都嚴重依賴緬甸的自然資源開採經濟…

… 從事自然資源開采的則是少數民族武裝團體和中國私人投資者…

… 大量資本流入緬甸也增加了環境退化的風險,如果沒有更加嚴格的法規,中緬經濟走廊的公路和鐵路升級計劃將威脅農村生計和生物多樣性豐富的生態系統。

緬甸森林砍伐速度加快的原因在於交通的增長…

將森林轉變為香蕉、橡膠等農產品種植園也是造成森林砍伐的原因,而這些種植園背後有中國私人資本的身影…

這些迅速擴張的種植園裡種的是組織培養法培育出來的香蕉樹,這種克隆品種及採用的單一種植法都需要持續使用化肥和殺蟲劑,會污染當地社區的供水和水生生態系統。

隨著組培香蕉樹耗盡土壤肥力,農業企業主需要不斷獲取更多土地用於生產。一些種植園所使用的土地曾屬於克欽族農民,克欽獨立軍和緬甸軍隊之間的戰爭導致他們被迫離開家園…

中緬經濟走廊的規劃者和相關企業必須考慮新項目對社會和環境產生的連鎖影響…

綠色“一帶一路”需要的不僅是經濟投資。考慮到緬北缺乏有效監管以及當地社區生計毫無保障的現狀,中國的投資必須建立更廣泛、更具包容性的利益相關方聯盟,特別是最了解當地社區需要的基層民間社會團體,讓他們參與緬甸邊境地區的發展規劃和決策過程。

[文章提及中國交通建設有限公司]

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Author: 罗俊毅,中外对话

““一带一路”在中缅边境需要克服的挑战”

… 中缅两国签署协议建立中缅经济走廊,作为中国“一带一路”倡议的一部分。如今,这条走廊面临陷入缅甸军方和少数民族武装团体冲突的风险之中…

如果中国希望中缅经济走廊取得成功,中国企业需要重新获得缅甸公众的信任,并证明“双赢”策略不是空话,尤其是在边境敏感地区。每个人都必须公平地享受到发展带来的惠益…

木姐-曼德勒铁路是中缅经济走廊最著名的规划项目之一… 中国中铁二院已完成项目可行性研究并提交缅甸政府,但环境和社会影响评估尚未完成…

尽管缅甸政府的谈判立场和条件侧重于经济和财政可持续,但中国在缅投资的许多突出问题都涉及大规模开发项目对边缘化群体的社会经济和环境影响。中国国有企业在资源开采和能源基础设施项目上已遭遇非常大的阻力…

中国在缅甸遭遇最大挫折的投资项目是密松大坝… 2011年,缅甸时任总统登盛单方面暂停密松大坝项目。之后,密松大坝项目… 曾多次试图复工,但均遭到缅甸全国各地的反对,2019年年初甚至爆发了集会抗议。

皎漂至云南省会昆明的油气管道沿线也爆发了抗议活动,该管道全长770千米,途经冲突不断的克钦邦。沿线社区要求中国国企给出更高经济赔偿,以弥补土地流失对其生活造成的影响。

考虑到民众的不满情绪,几家中国国有企业试图展示缅甸参与“一带一路”带来的切实效益。中缅油气管道建成以来,(中国石油天然气集团公司下属的)东南亚天然气管道公司已经捐赠2500万美元用于为沿线农村社区建设学校、诊所和供水系统。

今年4月在北京举行的第二届“一带一路”高峰论坛上,中国同意为缅甸政府提供10亿元赠款,用于改善其国内生计、开展重大项目可行性研究,并为缅甸北部数以万计因内战而流离失所的民众提供人道主义援助。

但援助赠款和企业社会责任无法从根本上解决缅甸的动乱,这与缅甸军队在少数民族邦的长期战争密不可分。

为促进缅甸边境地区社会经济和环境的可持续发展,中国新的开发计划必须考虑几十年内战带来的政治遗留问题…

多年来… 所有政治解决方案都严重依赖缅甸的自然资源开采经济…

… 从事自然资源开采的则是少数民族武装团体和中国私人投资者…

… 大量资本流入缅甸也增加了环境退化的风险,如果没有更加严格的法规,中缅经济走廊的公路和铁路升级计划将威胁农村生计和生物多样性丰富的生态系统。

缅甸森林砍伐速度加快的原因在于交通的增长…

将森林转变为香蕉、橡胶等农产品种植园也是造成森林砍伐的原因,而这些种植园背后有中国私人资本的身影…

这些迅速扩张的种植园里种的是组织培养法培育出来的香蕉树,这种克隆品种及采用的单一种植法都需要持续使用化肥和杀虫剂,会污染当地社区的供水和水生生态系统。

随着组培香蕉树耗尽土壤肥力,农业企业主需要不断获取更多土地用于生产。一些种植园所使用的土地曾属于克钦族农民,克钦独立军和缅甸军队之间的战争导致他们被迫离开家园…

中缅经济走廊的规划者和相关企业必须考虑新项目对社会和环境产生的连锁影响…

绿色“一带一路”需要的不仅是经济投资。考虑到缅北缺乏有效监管以及当地社区生计毫无保障的现状,中国的投资必须建立更广泛、更具包容性的利益相关方联盟,特别是最了解当地社区需要的基层民间社会团体,让他们参与缅甸边境地区的发展规划和决策过程。

[文章提及中国交通建设有限公司]

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