Under the Boot: new report exposes military face of Chinese investment in Burma

Palaung Youth Network Group
Saturday, December 1, 2007

Exclusive photos and testimonies from a remote village near the China-Burma border uncover how Chinese dam builders are using Burma Army troops to secure Chinese investments. Under the Boot, a new report by Palaung researchers, details the implementation of the Shweli Dam project, China's first Build-Operate-Transfer hydropower deal with Burma's junta.

Since 2000, the Palaung village of Man Tat, the site of the 600 megawatt dam project, has been overrun by hundreds of Burmese troops and Chinese construction workers. Villagers have been suffering land confiscation, forced labour, and restriction on movement ever since, and a five kilometer diversion tunnel has been blasted through the hill on which the village is situated.

Photos in the report show soldiers carrying out parade drills, weapons assembly, and target practice in the village.

"This Chinese project has been like a sudden military invasion. The villagers had no idea the dam would be built until the soldiers arrived," said Mai Aung Ko from the Palaung Youth Network Group (Ta'ang), which produced the report.

Burma's Ministry of Electric Power formed a joint venture with Yunnan Joint Power Development Company, a consortium of Chinese companies, to build and operate the project. Electricity generated will be sent to China and several military-run mining operations in Burma. As the project nears completion, plans are underway for two more dams on the Shweli River, a tributary of the Irrawaddy.

The launch of the report coincides with the submission of a petition by the Burma Rivers Network urging the Chinese government to extend its own laws overseeing hydropower projects to Chinese operations in foreign countries. Chinese policies require environmental and social impact assessments as well as public participation. Chinese companies are involved in an estimated forty hydropower projects across Burma.

More information: 

Mai Aung Ko +66 8510-75851 maingaungko@gmail.com
Lway Cherry +66 86918-1256 lwaycherry@yahoo.com

Download the full report from the Salween Watch website.