Archive for ‘Myanmar’

05/07/2019

Chinese president appoints new ambassadors

BEIJING, July 4 (Xinhua) — Chinese President Xi Jinping has appointed six new ambassadors in accordance with a decision by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, according to a statement from the national legislature Thursday.

Chen Hai was appointed ambassador to Myanmar, replacing Hong Liang.

Chang Hua was appointed ambassador to Iran, replacing Pang Sen.

Liao Liqiang was appointed ambassador to Egypt, replacing Song Aiguo.

Xu Erwen was appointed ambassador to Croatia, replacing Hu Zhaoming.

Yi Xianliang was appointed ambassador to Norway, replacing Wang Min.

Chen Xu was appointed China’s permanent representative and ambassador to the United Nations Office at Geneva and other international organizations in Switzerland, replacing Yu Jianhua.

Source: Xinhua

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22/06/2019

Southeast Asian leaders open summit in Bangkok

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Southeast Asian leaders opened a two-day summit in Bangkok on Saturday, though it was unclear what progress their 10-country group could make on disputes in the South China Sea and the plight of ethnic Rohingya fleeing Myanmar.

Formed more than half a century ago, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has historically struggled with challenges facing the region because it works only by consensus and is reluctant to become involved in any matter regarded as internal to a member state.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha was making his debut as a civilian leader representing current chair Thailand, after a general election in March that opposition parties say was designed to ensure his victory five years after the former army chief seized power in a 2014 coup.

Officials are expected to discuss a Code of Conduct (COC) for negotiations over the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest waterways and a potential flashpoint, as it is claimed by several ASEAN members as well as China.

However, it was unlikely much progress would be made, though member nations might discuss the June 9 collision of a Philippine boat and a Chinese fishing vessel.

“It is encouraging to see that the ASEAN-China talks on the COC have continued,” said Marty Natalegawa, former foreign minister of Indonesia.

“However, there is real risk that developments on the ground – or more precisely at sea – are far outpacing the COC’s progress thereby possibly rendering it irrelevant.”

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has accepted China’s proposal to jointly investigate allegations that a Chinese fishing vessel abandoned 22 Filipinos after it sank their boat in the South China Sea, his spokesman said on Saturday.

Rights groups have also called on ASEAN leaders to rethink support for plans to repatriate Rohingya Muslims who have fled member state Myanmar, where activists say returnees could face discrimination and persecution.

More than 700,000 Rohingya crossed into Bangladesh in 2017, according to U.N. agencies, after a crackdown by Myanmar’s military sparked by Rohingya insurgent attacks on the security forces.

However, it is unlikely that there will be any criticism of Myanmar at the summit over the Rohingya, said Prapat Thepchatree, a political science professor at Thailand’s Thammasat University said.

“This issue has been a very sensitive one for ASEAN,” he said.

Host country Thailand deployed about 10,000 security forces around Bangkok for the summit, mindful of a decade ago when Thailand last hosted an ASEAN summit and dozens of protesters loyal to military-ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra forced their way into the meeting venue.

But on Saturday morning, only a small group of people had planned to stage a protest to call Prayuth’s election the product of a rigged system.

The group, called Citizens Wanting Elections, was stopped by police before it could reach a meeting point near the summit venue. The group later released a statement welcoming visiting leaders but criticising Prayuth.

“The individual who serves as President of ASEAN, who welcomes everyone today, did not come from a clean and fair election,” the letter said.

Source: Reuters

28/05/2019

China embraced gay ‘marriage’ long before Taiwan’s law. The West perverted history

  • Asia has a rich but largely forgotten history of acceptance of queer relationships
  • It was not until the colonial era that sexual and gender diversity came to be seen as a sin
An LGBT pride parade in support of Taiwan’s same-sex marriage law. Photo: Reuters
An LGBT pride parade in support of Taiwan’s same-sex marriage law. Photo: Reuters
Anyone reading the headlines about

Taiwan’s

legalisation of same-sex marriage
would get the impression this was Asia’s first taste of marriage equality. They would be quite wrong.

While Taiwan may be the first jurisdiction in Asia to legalise the modern form of same-sex marriage, such unions have been recognised across the region in various guises for centuries.
It may be true that Asia does not have a great reputation among the 
LGBTQ

community, but it does have a rich history of acceptance of sexual and gender diversity – one that has largely been forgotten.

When Europeans first encountered Chinese society, they praised many aspects of it, from its efficient government to the sophisticated lifestyles of the upper-class. But they were shocked and repulsed about one aspect of Chinese society: the “abominable vice of sodomy”.
Opinion: Three lessons for Hong Kong from Taiwan’s LGBT journey
One Portuguese Dominican friar, Gaspar da Cruz, even wrote an apocalyptic tract which portrayed China as the new Sodom – beset by earthquakes, floods, and other natural disasters due to their acceptance of that “filthy abomination, which is that they are so given to the accursed sin of unnatural vice”, that is, sodomy.
Southern China, in particular, was known for a widespread acceptance of homosexual relationships. Shen Defu, a Chinese writer during the Ming dynasty, wrote that it was common for men of all social classes in Fujian province to take male lovers. While men generally took on these lovers while maintaining respectable marriages to women, there were some men who took their lover-relationships to a quasi-marriage level. The older man would be considered qixiong (adoptive older brother) and the younger qidi(adoptive younger brother).
South Korean men take part in Taiwan’s annual LGBT pride parade in Taipei. Photo: AFP
South Korean men take part in Taiwan’s annual LGBT pride parade in Taipei. Photo: AFP

Bret Hinsch, a professor of history in Taiwan, describes the ceremony based on the narration of a Chinese playwright, Li Yu (1610-1680): “Two men sacrifice a carp, a rooster, and a duck. They then exchange their exact times of birth, smear each other’s mothers with the blood of their sacrifices, and then swear eternal loyalty to one another.

The ceremony concludes with feasting on the sacrificial victims …. The younger qidi would move into the qixiong’s household. There he would be treated as a son-in-law by his husband’s parents. Throughout the marriage, many of which lasted for 20 years, the qixiong would be completely responsible for his younger husband’s upkeep.

The marriage would typically dissolve after a number of years so that the younger man could find a bride to marry to procreate and further the family lineage. The elder man was expected to pay the bride a price for the younger man.

These forms of gay “marriage” were prevalent enough in Fujian that there was even a patron deity of homosexuality, the rabbit. Many Han people from Fujian migrated to Taiwan starting in the 17th century; they now make up 80 per cent of the population.

Explained: gay rights, LGBTQ and same-sex marriage in Asia
Most literary accounts of homosexual relationships in China involve men, and there is a lively debate among scholars as to whether women enjoyed the same freedom.
Nevertheless, the most documented of female “quasi-marriages” are the “Golden Orchid Associations” in Guangdong. (Around 15 per cent of Taiwan’s population is Hakka, which historians trace specifically to Han migrants from Guangdong and surrounding areas.) The Golden Orchid Society was a movement based in Guangdong that lasted from the late Qing dynasty until the early 1900s. It provided a “sisterhood” alternative to women who did not want to get married for various reasons.
To announce her intentions, one woman would offer another gifts of peanut candy, dates and other goods. If the recipient accepted the gift, it was a signal she had accepted the proposal. They would swear an oath to one another, where sometimes one woman was designated “husband” and the other “wife”.
A couple kiss as they celebrate Taiwan’s legalisation of same-sex marriage. Photo: Reuters
A couple kiss as they celebrate Taiwan’s legalisation of same-sex marriage. Photo: Reuters

Hinsch describes the ceremony in this way: “After an exchange of ritual gifts, the foundation of the Chinese marriage ceremony, a feast attended by female companions served to witness the marriage. These married lesbian couples could even adopt female children, who in turn could inherit family property from the couple’s parents.”

While these “marriages” are not equivalent to the same-sex marriages of today, they nevertheless are historical precedents for what is now happening in Taiwan.

And China is far from being the only country in Asia with a queer history – Southeast Asia’s LGBTQ history is even richer.

Why some members of Singapore’s LGBT community prefer life in the shadows

In the early modern period, marriages between two people of the same assigned sex but who identified as different genders, were fairly normal in many parts of Southeast Asia. We know this primarily from the records Europeans kept when they landed on Asian shores.

For instance, here is a letter by a Portuguese missionary, Antonio de Paiva, to his Catholic bishop in 1544 about his observations of the Bugis people in what is now 

Indonesia

: “Your lordship will know that the priests of these kings are generally called bissus. They grow no hair on their beards, dress in a womanly fashion, and grow their hair long and braided; they imitate [women’s] speech because they adopt all of the female gestures and inclinations. They marry and are received, according to the custom of the land, with other common men, and they live indoors, uniting carnally in their secret places with the men whom they have for husbands …”

After this scandalised description, the author concludes with amazement that the Christian god, who had destroyed “three cities of Sodom for the same sin”, had not yet destroyed such “wanton people” who were “encircled by evil”.
Drag queens at a gay nightclub in Beijing. Despite its reputation, Asia has a long history of accepting diversity. Photo: EPA
Drag queens at a gay nightclub in Beijing. Despite its reputation, Asia has a long history of accepting diversity. Photo: EPA

Dating as far back as the 13th century, bissu have traditionally served as council to kings and guarded sacred manuscripts. They are considered a fifth gender within the Bugis’ gender-system: oroané (male men), makkunrai (female women), calabai (male women), calalai (female men), and bissu, who were neither male nor female (or both).

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Today, their ranks have thinned – in one area, the population has dwindled to just six people – but the tradition remains, and they still perform important blessings. Contemporary bissu are typically male-bodied individuals who adopt feminine and masculine elements in their appearance. Although in the past bissu were married men, today they are required to be celibate.
In pre-Islamic Bugis culture, bissu were accorded priestly honours and tasked with mediating between the gods and people precisely because of, not in spite of, their gender. According to professor Halilintar Lathier, an Indonesian anthropologist, Bugis culture “perceived the upper world as male and this world as female, and therefore only a meta-gender would be able to become an intermediary”.
This pattern of a “gender-expansive” priest able to marry others of the same sex recurs throughout Southeast Asia.
A transgender beauty contest in Pattaya, Thailand. Despite its reputation, Asia has a long history of accepting diversity. Photo: Handout
A transgender beauty contest in Pattaya, Thailand. Despite its reputation, Asia has a long history of accepting diversity. Photo: Handout
To the west of South Sulawesi is Borneo, a large island that contains all of Brunei and parts of Indonesia and

Malaysia

. Borneo is home to many indigenous communities, including the Iban. The Iban historically respected manang bali, who were typically male-bodied shamans who adopted feminine dress and demeanour, and who took men as their husbands. Manang bali were mediators and held roles of great ritual importance; they were typically wealthy village chiefs known for their healing arts.

West of Borneo is the Malay Peninsula, where there are records from the Malay Annals and Misa Melayu dating as far back as the 15th century about priests, called sida-sida, who served in the palaces of the Malay sultans. They were responsible for safeguarding women in the palace as well as the food and clothing of royalty, and overseeing ritual protocol. The sida-sida undertook “androgynous behaviour” such as wearing women’s clothing and doing women’s tasks. A Malay anthropologist in the 1950s, Shamsul A.B., recalls seeing male-bodied sida-sida in the royal palace in his childhood, who were believed by the population to either be celibate and asexual, or attracted to men. Michael Peletz, an anthropologist and author of Gender Pluralism in Southeast Asia, notes that based on the evidence, it is “highly likely” that sida-sida involved both male- and female-bodied people who were involved in transgender practices, and who engaged in sexual relationships with people of the same and opposite sex.
How a gay student’s suicide is helping Japan’s LGBT community speak up
Northeast of Malaysia is the

Philippines

, where pre-colonial communities were religiously led by babylan: women healers and shamans who were responsible for mediating between the gods and people. Male-bodied people (asog, bayog), sometimes considered a third sex, could also hold these roles so long as they comported themselves like women. A 16th century Spanish Catholic manuscript records asog in the following manner:

“Ordinarily they dress as women, act like prudes and are so effeminate that one who does not know them would believe they are women … they marry other males and sleep with them as man and wife and have carnal knowledge.”
Dancers perform at the ShanghaiPRIDE opening party. Despite its reputation, Asia has a long history of accepting diversity. Photo: AFP
Dancers perform at the Shanghai PRIDE opening party. Despite its reputation, Asia has a long history of accepting diversity. Photo: AFP

The Spanish priests saw these asog as “devil-possessed”, particularly because they habitually practised “sodomy” among one another. Due to the Chinese reputation for homosexuality and various Sinophobic attitudes, some even attributed the prevalence of sodomy to the Chinese, whom they said had “infected the natives” and introduced the curse to the “Indians”, although there is no evidence of this.

COLONIAL CURVEBALL

Although these examples relate to the religious arena, anthropologists believe the respect accorded to these ritual specialists were an indicator of a wider societal acceptance of gender and sexual diversity in Southeast Asia – an acceptance that began to be eroded through the introduction of world religions (particularly Christianity), modernity, and colonialism. For example, in Malaysia, Brunei, 

Singapore

, Myanmar and throughout the commonwealth, the British enforced a penal code that legislated against sodomy. More than half of the countries that currently legally prohibit sodomy do so based on laws created by the British.

On gay sex, India has assumed an ancient position. Read the kama sutra
Similarly, after the Chinese were defeated by Western and Japanese imperialists, many Chinese progressives in the early 20th century sought to modernise China, which meant adopting “modern” Western ideas of dress, relationships, science and sexuality.
Concubinage was outlawed, prostitution was frowned upon, and women’s feet were unbound. It also meant importing European scientific understandings of homosexuality as an inverted or perverted pathology. These “scientific ideas” were debunked in the 1960s in the West, but lived on in China, frozen in time, and have only recently begun to thaw with the rise of LGBTQ activists in Asia.
A recent headline on the news from Taiwan read: “First in Asia: marriage equality comes to Taiwan”, as if the recent bill was an unprecedented “first” for Asia and that marriage equality – which, presumably, the headline writer associates with the West – has finally reached Asian shores.
But when we zoom out historically, it is evident that what happened in Taiwan is not so much a novel “breakthrough” for Asia. It is more a reconnection to its queer Chinese and Asian heritage, as well as a rejection of outdated Western ideas that it once adopted.
There is still much more work to be done to advance LGBT rights in Taiwan and the rest of Asia, but perhaps looking backwards in time can help us move forward.
Source: SCMP
20/04/2019

Xi to address Belt and Road forum next week: FM

CHINA-BEIJING-BRF-PRESS BRIEFING (CN)

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (C) speaks during a press briefing for the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) in Beijing, capital of China, April 19, 2019. The second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation will be held from April 25 to 27 in Beijing, Wang Yi announced Friday. (Xinhua/Zhai Jianlan)

BEIJING, April 19 (Xinhua) — Chinese President Xi Jinping will deliver a keynote speech at the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) to be held from April 25 to 27 in Beijing, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced Friday.

Leaders including heads of state and government from 37 countries will attend the forum’s roundtable summit, Wang told a press briefing.

Wang said 12 thematic forums and a CEO conference would be held on April 25, the opening ceremony and a high-level meeting on April 26, and the leaders’ roundtable on April 27.

Xi will attend the opening ceremony and deliver a keynote speech. He will also chair the leaders’ roundtable and brief media from home and abroad about the outcomes after the roundtable, Wang said, adding that Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan will also hold a welcoming banquet for the leaders and representatives.

According to Wang, the 37 countries are Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Brunei, Cambodia, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

The secretary-general of the United Nations and the managing director of the International Monetary Fund will attend the forum, Wang said, adding that senior representatives of France, Germany, Britain, Spain, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the European Union will also participate.

Noting that the BRF is the top-level platform for international cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, Wang said the conference next week would be of landmark significance.

The theme of the second BRF is “Belt and Road Cooperation, Shaping a Brighter Shared Future.” Wang said the main purpose is to promote the high-quality development of Belt and Road cooperation, which is the common aspiration of countries participating in the initiative.

Speaking highly of the fruitful results yielded since the initiative was launched in 2013, Wang said the second BRF was greatly welcomed worldwide with some 5,000 participants from more than 150 countries and 90 international organizations having confirmed their attendance, covering areas from five continents and different walks of life such as government, civil society, business and academia.

According to Wang, this year’s forum will have 12 thematic forums, twice of that during the first forum in 2017, and the CEO conference will be held for the first time. A joint communique will be released after the leaders’ roundtable and other consensus reached during the forum will be issued in a report.

The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by Xi in 2013, aims at enhancing all-around connectivity through infrastructure construction, exploring new driving force for the world economic growth, and building a new platform for world economic cooperation, according to Wang.

Stressing that Xi and leaders from other countries blueprinted the initiative in 2017, Wang said the progress in the past two years shows that the initiative conforms to the trend of the times featuring peace, development, cooperation and win-win and accords with the common aspiration of openness and joint development of all countries.

“As the host country, we will maintain close communication and coordination with all parties to prepare for the forum with openness, inclusiveness and transparency, upholding the principle of consultation and cooperation for shared benefits,” Wang said.

He said the forum would voice the firm support for multilateralism and an open world economy, enrich the principles of cooperation of the Belt and Road Initiative, build a network of partnership, and establish more mechanisms for high-quality development.

Bilateral, trilateral and multilateral cooperation has been reinforcing each other under the initiative, laying a solid foundation for a closer and more wide-ranging partnership, he said.

Wang said China will showcase the outcomes and introduce the measures of its reform and opening-up to the world, adding that this will allow China to share the dividends of its economic growth, promote the Belt and Road Initiative, and bring more opportunities to the development of all countries as well as the building of the Belt and Road.

“I believe that the forum will inject stronger impetus into the world economy, open even broader horizon for the development of the countries, and contribute to the building of a community with a shared future for humanity, ” said Wang.

Source: Xinhua

11/04/2019

Xi meets with Myanmar’s commander-in-chief of defense services

CHINA-BEIJING-XI JINPING-MYANMAR-MEETING (CN)

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets with Myanmar’s Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services Min Aung Hlaing at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, April 10, 2019. (Xinhua/Li Gang)

BEIJING, April 10 (Xinhua) — Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Myanmar’s Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services Min Aung Hlaing at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Wednesday.

Noting the long-standing “Paukphaw” (fraternal) friendship between China and Myanmar, Xi spoke of the sound development of bilateral relations at present, the expanding exchanges and cooperation in various fields and at various levels, and new progress in the Belt and Road cooperation.

China attaches great importance to China-Myanmar relations, Xi said, noting that no matter how the international situation changes, China is willing as always to strengthen strategic communication with Myanmar, deepen mutually beneficial cooperation, and constantly enrich the China-Myanmar comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, so as to bring more tangible benefits to the two peoples and contribute joint efforts to regional stability and prosperity.

Xi said China-Myanmar military cooperation is an important part of the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries.

The armed forces of the two countries should deepen practical exchanges and cooperation, and work together to build a military-to-military relationship based on mutual trust and benefit and devoted to safeguarding the common security and development interests of the two countries, Xi said.

Xi said China supports Myanmar’s peace process and pays attention to the development of situation in northern Myanmar. He expressed the hope that Myanmar will work with China to further strengthen border management and jointly safeguard border security and stability.

Noting the long-standing traditional friendship between Myanmar and China and the sound development of bilateral and military-to-military ties, Min Aung Hlaing said Myanmar appreciates China’s long-term and valuable assistance to the national and military development of Myanmar and the support to its peace process.

He said Myanmar welcomes, supports and stands ready to actively participate in the Belt and Road cooperation, strengthen practical cooperation with China in various fields, and take practical measures to safeguard stability in the Myanmar-China border areas.

Li Zuocheng, member of China’s Central Military Commission (CMC) and chief of staff of the Joint Staff of the CMC, and other officials were present at the meeting.

Source: Xinhua

15/02/2019

Fire alarms “faulty” at Delhi blaze hotel, prompting mass reinspections

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – A hotel that caught fire in the Indian capital on Tuesday, killing 17 people, passed safety checks 14 months ago, but an investigation has revealed breaches of regulations, such as faulty alarms, prompting a mass reinspection of other hotels.

Poorly enforced regulations lead to thousands of deaths in fires across India every year and officials in New Delhi say an overstretched fire service is hampering safety efforts.

The Hotel Arpit Palace passed a fire safety check in December 2017, but a copy of the initial police investigation seen by Reuters showed several breaches of fire regulations, including a lack of signs to guide guests to exits and fire alarms that did not work.

Delhi’s fire service, which is responsible for safety inspections as well as fighting fires, is now reviewing certificates issued to more than 1,500 hotels in one of India’s tourist hubs, a senior fire official told Reuters.

“Fire officers have to do a lot of work,” said Vipin Kental, Delhi’s chief fire officer. “We have to be inspectors and fight fires. We do not have the manpower.”

The city has around 1,700 firefighters, he said, which is less than an eighth of the number in New York, a city with less than half of Delhi’s population.

PREVENTABLE TRAGEDY

The fire is believed to have begun on the hotel’s first floor, spreading quickly through wood-panelled corridors, police say. Among the dead were members of a wedding party from Kerala and a two Buddhist pilgrims from Myanmar.

“From the outside, the building looked intact, but inside everything was completely charred,” a police officer told Reuters.

Two of the 17 died after jumping out of windows in desperation after failing to find emergency exits, added the officer, who declined to be named as he is not authorised to talk to the media.

“Fire preparedness is a matter of shockingly low priority in most parts of the country,” said an editorial in the Indian Express, one of the country’s leading newspapers.

A 2018 study by India’s home ministry that found the country had just 2,000 of more than 8,500 fire stations it needs.

More than 17,000 people died in fires in 2015, according to data from the ministry, the last year for which figures are available, one of the largest causes of accidental death in India.

Fire safety is an issue for shanty towns and some of the country’s most expensive real estate.

A day after the Arpit Palace disaster, more than 250 makeshift homes were destroyed in a slum in Paschim Puri, a poor area of New Delhi, though no one was killed.

In 2017, 14 people were killed during a birthday party at a high-end bar in India’s financial capital Mumbai.

In several upscale neighbourhoods in Delhi, police shut hundreds of shops and restaurants last year for trading on floors meant for residential use, though many continue to operate illegally, residents say.

By the boarded-up Arpit Palace in the Karol Bagh area of New Delhi, wires from adjacent hotels still trail across the street, though staff there told Reuters they were complying with fire regulations.

Adding to the safety problems, poorly paid staff in the hotel and restaurant industries are often unable to help guests when fires break out, Kental said.

“They are not trained. They don’t know what to do in the event of a fire,” he said.

Source: Reuters

29/01/2019

Myanmar’s stalled China-backed Myitsone dam project strained bilateral ties — now it could be scaled back or moved

  • The chairman of Myanmar’s investment commission cited several problems, including an earthquake fault line and a catchment area ‘twice the size of Singapore’
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 January, 2019, 4:51pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 January, 2019, 5:13pm

A top Myanmar investment official on Tuesday suggested alternatives such as scaling back or relocating a stalled Chinese-backed dam project that has strained ties between the neighbours.

Myanmar angered China in 2011 when its former quasi-civilian government suspended the US$3.6 billion Myitsone hydropower dam in the country’s north amid environmental concerns.

Asked about the dam at an investment conference, Thaung Tun, chairman of Myanmar’s investment commission, listed several problems, from an earthquake fault line running under the project site to a large catchment area affecting residents.

“Catchment area would be twice the size of Singapore. This would mean that a lot of villages will have been displaced from their accessible land. That is the issue,” Thaung Tun told reporters at the conference in the capital Naypyidaw.

Thaung Tun listed several alternatives, including scaling back the dam, moving it to a different location, or offering the operator an alternative project. He did not say if the government had a preferred option.

A lot of villages will have been displaced from their accessible land. That is the issue
THANG TUN

Spearheading these efforts is a commission launched by Aung San Suu Kyi’s government, which came to power in 2016, to review the dam. Myanmar also began informal talks with Beijing and dam operator Yunnan International Power Investment, a unit of State Power Investment Corp.

China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Beijing has previously said it would “maintain communication” with Myanmar over the project.

Finding a solution is critical for Suu Kyi, who has benefited from Beijing’s support at the United Nations following a 2017 army crackdown that drove 730,000 Rohingya Muslims out of Myanmar.

Myanmar also needs Beijing’s help in peace talks with several ethnic armed groups operating along northern and eastern borders with China.

Thaung Tun said original plans for the dam were not “thought out” and failed to consider the impact on the community and the environment.

The dam in the northern state of Kachin is very unpopular. Suu Kyi’s ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) lost a seat in Kachin by-elections last year and party officials have voiced concern about their popularity in ethnic minority areas ahead of the 2020 general election.

China’s Yunnan province, the planned destination for about 90 per cent of the dam’s electricity, now has a power surplus, Thaung Tun said.

“There’s no need for this dam now,” he said.

On Monday, Nobel laureate Suu Kyi opened the first government-led investment conference by calling on global investors to put their money in Myanmar, seeking to offset the negative impact of the Rohingya crisis and slow pace of economic reforms.

Source: SCMP

08/12/2018

China vows to continue support for Myanmar’s peace process in Rakhine

YANGON, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) — China will continue its support for Myanmar government’s process of restoring peace and stability as well as promoting development in western Rakhine state, Chinese Ambassador Hong Liang said on Friday.

Hong made the remarks at a donation ceremony to Myanmar’s Union Enterprise for Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement and Development (UEHRD).

China encourages the Myanmar government’s efforts on the repatriation process of displaced persons, he said.

Myanmar Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Dr Win Myat Aye thanked the Chinese Embassy for the prompt donation, saying that it will help build houses for the returnees and will also take the lead to bring about more donation from others.

Myanmar formed the UEHRD in Oct. last year for the effective performance of a long-term project of freedom from conflict in Rakhine state.

It also established nine private sector task forces to join the mechanism of UEHRD.

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