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Uncertainty hangs over Myitsone dam project as Chinese leader Xi visits

Published Jan 21, 2020
Updated Mar 02, 2020

Many Myanmar people have a pessimistic view and negative opinions on Chinese projects in Myanmar such as Myitsone dam project and Letpadaung copper mine project which have been agreed under previous Myanmar administrations.

In part a change of opinion of the Myanmar people will depend on the results of Sino-Myanmar relations following the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Myanmar and the discussions about these Chinese projects between the two governments. President Xi is currently in Myanmar with these projects up for discussion.

The Myitsone dam project looks to be the most contentious issue that the two sides will discuss on Xi’s visit. Commentators have said President Xi has a particular interest in the Myitsone dam project because he was the main player when as Chinese Vice President he visited Myanmar in 2009 to sign the project.

U Kyee Myint, a member of the Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Affairs, voiced the concern of many when he told Mizzima that “we all want the answer”.

We want to know whether the project will continue or not. They should try to reach a compromise on the project, or they should do something, he said. Writer U Than Soe Naing, who is also a China-Myanmar analyst, asked how much leg-room there was for a compromise.

“What can we do for that Chinese investment? Will we replace the project with another project or another location? The Myitsone project has been suspended since about eight years ago. We have to pay about $50 million in interest a year to the Chinese bank, so we have demanded a clear decision for a long time. We think that it will be good if a decision can be made this time,” he said.