Myitsone Dam project poses no threat to Myanmar-China ties: Chinese envoy

The Myanmar government, led by the National League for Democracy (NLD), has agreed with China to seek a solution to the controversial Myitsone dam project that will satisfy both sides, outgoing Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar Hong Liang said on Tuesday.

“We are seriously concerned about the project. We agreed with the Myanmar government to find a solution that will not harm bilateral relations,” he said. “I firmly believe our relations will be better if we can solve this problem.”

Hong is set to leave his post at the end of the month. On Tuesday, he invited a select group of local journalists for a briefing at his residence.

The US$3.6 billion, 6000MW Myitsone dam in Kachin State is funded by China’s state-owned State Power Investment Corporation. Its construction was suspended by former president U Thein Sein in 2011 after widespread protests over social and environmental concerns.

People are wondering about the future of the project, as State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is under pressure from China to make a decision.

The State Counsellor has not revealed the details of the talks with China on the dam but she has promised to disclose any deal they reach.

The uncertainty has triggered speculation. Some say the dam would be re-sized or delayed until after the 2020 general election. Others say it would be stopped completely.

“No need to worry about Myitsone,” Hong said. “When the results (of the negotiations) come out, cooperation between Myanmar and China will move forward”.

Hong admitted that the suspension of the project has been an obstacle to greater economic cooperation between China and Myanmar. He added that China suffered a big loss due to the suspension of the project for the past eight years.

He expressed concern that some groups are using the impasse over the project to advance their political interests. “A group is spreading misinformation about the Myitsone project, as they want to disturb Myanmar’s democratic reform process and Myanmar-China bilateral relations,” Hong said, without elaborating.

He urged the government to protect foreign companies that invest in Myanmar according to law. He added that the project is aimed at providing electricity for Myanmar.

When asked whether the project would be completely cancelled, as some people want, he replied, “It’s your wish and you should ask your government.”

Hong said China remains willing to continue to expand the China-Myanmar friendship. He said China has consistently supported the development of Myanmar, including the peace process and Rakhine State issue, as part of its effort to enhance relations between the two countries.

Source: Myanmar Times

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