Shan Herald Agency for News 1 September 2009
By Hseng Khio Fah
The three days of heavy clashes, 27-29 August, between the Burma Army and Kokang may link to Chinese plans to build the Upper Salween Dam also known as Kunlong Dam in northern Shan State, near Kokang territory, according to Sai Khur Hseng, Spokesperson of Shan Sapawa Environmental Organization.
Today, the Shan Sapawa together with the Salween Watch coalition of nvironmental groups released a statement to call on China to immediately halt all their investments in the dam.
The recent clashes which killed about 200 people and caused over 0,000 refugees to flee to China took place just east of the town of unlong, about 15 km from the planned dam site, said the statement.
“The renewed fighting and refugee influx into Yunnan should be a wake-up call to China about the risks of investing in Burma,” said Sai Khur Hseng.
According to the statement, a team of Chinese and Burmese technicians have been conducting feasibility studies for the proposed dam, 25 km from the Chinese border, which is estimated to produce 2,400 MW, after the plans to construct the dam were announced in April 2007 by two Chinese companies, Hanergy Holding Group (formerly Farsighted Investment Group) and Gold Water Resources Company.
“Trees were being cut down for the construction site,” Sai Khur Hseng said.
The Kunlong dam is one of five mega dams being planned on the Salween in Burma by the ruling military and Chinese and Thai companies, to produce electricity to be sold to China and Thailand. The other mega dam being planned in Shan State is the giant 7,110 MW Tasang dam, 100 km from the Thai border.
In early August, more than 10,000 villagers from townships near the Tasang dam site were forcibly relocated and over 500 houses were burned down by the recent junta’s scorched earth campaign.
Likewise, if China still plans to continue the project, lots of people will be forced to relocate and die as both investors and the military will clear everything that may be in the way of their plans, Sai Khur Hseng said.
“China will halt its investments in the dam if it had not been working hand in glove with the junta during the offensive against Kokang,” he added.
The clashes between the Burma Army and Kokang followed after the Burma Army sent an armed force ostensibly to investigate reports of Kokang force having an arms factory on 8 August.
Tension between the ceasefire groups and the ruling military junta has been growing since April when the former were demanded to transform themselves into Burma Army run Border Guard Forces.