Burmese Vice President Vows to Resolve Dam Dispute with China

Posted October 21st, 2011 at 7:30 am (UTC-5)
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Burma's vice president has vowed to cooperate with China on solving the dispute over its halting of the construction of a $3.6 billion Chinese-backed dam in northern Burma.

Vice President Tin Aung Myint Oo made the comments Thursday during a meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the China-ASEAN meeting in southern China.

For his part, Mr. Wen urged Burma to “fulfill its promises” and “guarantee the healthy development” of Burma-China relations, though he did not specifically mention the Myitsone dam project.

Last month, Burmese President Thein Sein angered Beijing by suspending the dam, which would produce power mainly for sale to China.

The joint project had sparked protests by environmentalists and local residents who say the dam would flood a huge area and have devastating consequences for the people and the environment.

China demanded an explanation and warned of “legal issues” after Burma the suspension.

Western governments and environmental groups have welcomed the decision to halt the project as a sign that the Burmese government is becoming more responsive to the wishes of its own people.

Environmental groups say the dam would do great damage to the Irrawaddy River, with devastating consequences for the country's rice production and its local population.