Potential Environmental and Social Impacts of Chinese Mega-Projects in Myanmar Raise Concerns

With more and more Chinese investment flowing into the country, many key government officials are speaking out in support of the projects, which range from a high-speed railway line to special economic zones to seaports. At several local investment forums, they have voiced the view that China’s grand infrastructure projects will bring economic development to Myanmar and economic benefits to local people, while boosting the country’s strategic importance in the region.

But what they have so far failed to mention is the possible environmental and social impacts of the projects on host communities. They rarely talk about how the projects threaten biodiversity, protected forests and natural water resources. Faced with this official silence, experts and activists worry aloud about land confiscations, influxes of migrants, loss of livelihoods and air, water and noise pollution in the project areas.

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Nan Lwin