So the Sino-Burmese relationship is going through a rough patch at the moment. President Thein Sein’s decision to suspend China’s Myitsone mega-dam project is the talk of the town. And we all now wait for the next installment in one of Asia’s most intriguing bilateral flirtations.
While I’m sure the timing is coincidental the Chinese public relations machine in Burma is certainly not holding back.
New Mandala readers will all want to see the 8-page special lift-out that the Chinese Embassy produced for The Myanmar Times this month. On page 3 we learn that:
China and Myanmar are friendly neighbors linked by comman mountains and rivers. The two peoples have made amicable contact since very ancient times. These friendly relations are known well as “Paukphaw (meaning full brothers) Friendship.”
To emphasise the basis of the friendship, on page 5 there are some striking “before” and “after” photos showing the Chinese commitment to Burma’s development. They even seem to have been building Baptist Churches. The “donations” in question come from China Power Investment, the company behind the Myitsone project.
The text stresses that:
China Power Investment (CPI), who is responsible for the Upstream Ayeyawady Hydropower Project, has spent a total of 25.055 million USD in the resettlement work, 18.55 million USD of which will be spent in Myitsone dam resettling site, which is 8644 USD per person. Immigrants’ living standards will be improved significantly. Aung Myin Tha Resettlement Village, one of the villages build by CPI, has become a model village in Myanmar with new school, monastery, church and hospital.
Model villages. Big per capita spends on resettlement. Monasteries. Churches. Schools. If all of this has got you intrigued then you can find out much more about Chinese plans for the Myitsone development at this handsome website.
In a final flourish the Chinese lift-out reminds us:
The Chinese enterprises are committed to actively fulfill their social responsibilities, participate in public undertakings and carry out strict environmental management, in both construction and operation phase, for the welfare of the local people, with the principle of mutual benefit and common development, so as to build every program into the project of friendship. Moreover, they will treat and love their Myanmar colleagues like brothers, to nurture the evergreen tree of paukphaw sentiments and the ever-inflorescent bloom of friendship.
And, as the headline insists, “Yes to Corporate Social Responsibility!”