Mounting local opposition to Chinese-backed infrastructure projects
in Myanmar over the past few months has again led to growing scrutiny on
Beijing’s influence in the Southeast Asian state.
Trouble surfaced once more
last month in the Letpadaung copper mine in northwest Myanmar, a joint
venture between a Chinese state-owned arms manufacturer and the Myanmar
military. After dozens of villagers had obstructed the erection of a
fence in the project area, Myanmar police fired on protesters near the
mine, leaving one woman dead and nine other villagers wounded. While
China expressed regret at the incident, protests continued at the dam site and in other parts of the country, including outside the Chinese embassy in Yangon.
“The government is no longer willing to accept terms that are less than
optimal to the national interest. The renewed availability of Western
and other foreign capital after decades of isolation and stagnation
caused by economic sanctions has made Chinese investment less
appealing,” Yun Sun, a fellow at the Stimson Center in Washington, D.C.,
wrote of the project in Asia Times Online at the time.
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