China to continue championing development of Myanmar’s Myitsone plant

China will continue pushing to complete Myanmar’s stalled Myitsone project, despite comments from Myanmar officials earlier this week that its construction is no longer a national priority.

Speaking in a daily news briefing yesterday from Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Sunying said Myitsone is “a commercial cooperation project both sides have already agreed upon,” and that it “has already been through a complete approval process.”

Sunying’s comments were a response to an interview published earlier this week by Reuters, in which Myanmar Minister of Construction Win Khaing said the country is now favoring imported liquid natural gas and small hydro instead of the 6,000-MW Myitsone.

“We will continue to maintain communication with the Myanmar side and proactively and appropriately handle the problems or difficulties which wrise during cooperation on the project, to allow relevant cooperation to continue,” Sunying said.

Myitson had been a cornerstone of Myanmar’s economic development plan, which would have stimulated job creation and growth through access to electricity and improved infrastructure.

The project, in various states of development since the Myanmar Electrical Power Enterprise and the Agriculture and Irrigation Ministry initiated the studies in 2001, would be located on the Irrawaddy River near Kachin.

Though the plant is ostensibly being developed for Myanmar’s benefit, the bulk of power generated by the hydropower project would be sent to China’s Yunnan Province.

The facility has been under construction since 2009, though work was suspended in October 2011 due to concerns over the project’s environmental impact and disputes regarding Myanmar’s share of its output. The Myanmar government formed a commission in August 2016 to consider the project’s future.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for HydroWorld.com.

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