As local residents question Belt and Road impacts, China and Myanmar remain silent

Chinese investment in projects for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is changing the homes, economies, and environments of people across Myanmar, often in conflict zones. In some cases, those affected by the projects are calling for the government to stop or alter Chinese-backed projects due to concerns about social and environmental costs. At a minimum, local residents have questions about whether they’ll see the benefits of the developments.

The Chinese and Myanmar governments, for the most part, haven’t directly addressed these concerns.

In the case of the proposed Myitsone dam in Kachin State, the Chinese government has pushed local communities to accept the project, despite the fact that most of the benefits will go to China. Late last month, a team of Chinese experts spoke in the state’s parliament in an attempt to convince Kachin lawmakers to come out in favour of the dam. The government in Myanmar has encouraged those opposed to the project to reconsider their position.

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Skylar Lindsay