Lucrative China-backed hydropower projects are raising tensions along Burma’s northern border with China.
Environmental groups claim that the Burmese government's against armed ethnic groups along its northern frontier is intended to provide security around the China-backed energy projects, the Democratic Voice of Burma Online reported.
Burma, the second largest country in Southeast Asia, since achieving independence from Britain in 1948 has been involved in a decades-long civil war among the country's myriad ethnic groups that continues today. Since Burma has been under a military dictatorship since 1962, it has become one of the least developed nations in the world.
Nine dams financed by Chinese companies are currently under construction in Burma's northernmost Kachin state, according to Burma Rivers Network, including the Upper Paunglaung Dam, which is being financed by China's EXIM Bank.
The Kachin Independence Army, which recently ended a 17-year ceasefire with the Burmese government, controls territory close to the Shweli and Taping dams, where heavy fighting broke out earlier this month. The Burma Rivers Network said in a statement, "Mega dams in Burma have severe negative social, economic and environmental impacts while the majority of electricity generated is exported to neighboring countries or used by the military. Most of the dams are located in ethnic states and allow the expansion of Burma Army control into these areas."
By. Joao Peixe, Deputy Editor OilPrice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com