星期四, 三月 05, 2009

Sudan and China's Dam building frenzy

It is so coincidental that Sudan held the inauguration of the Chinese-funded Merowe dam in the Nile River, while the International Criminal Court issued a warrant to the current President, Omar al-Bashir. Ironically, when the international community called for the obligation of Sudan's President, China called for a suspension of the warrant. Even though the warrant does not take any effect as Sudan is not a signatory of such treaty, and may not help resolve the conflicts between the current regime and the opposition, China's declaration does not help minimize its image in its inclination to the authoritarian regime, and their intent to solve the internal conflicts within Sudan.

Meanwhile, China has announced their involvements in dam projects of various places, which are somewhat groundbreaking and even controversial. The first mainstream dam project on the Brahmaputra in Tibet, Zangmu, has made important progress. The contract for the concrete and aggregate processing services have already been awarded to China's Gezhouba Group. In addition, in another news, Tibet Autonomous Region's government ordered to stop any new construction plan in the Zangmu dam's flooded area last year. All these implied that the Gezhouba Group will start preparation and construction of the project very soon.

However, the politics among countries of Brahmaputra river basin is more complicated than that in the Mekong, since India also has dam plan in the upstream of Bangladesh. India here definitely lost the moral ground in front of China's plan. So how can the downstream civil society respond to these governments' positions?

On the other hand, China's interest is not only limited to Tibet, but also Ecuador. Recently when China's vice-Premier, Hui Liangyu, visited Ecuador, he also signed a package of agreements in bilateral trade and economic cooperation. One of the potential projects is the Coca-Codo-Sincalir hydropower project. Both Gezhouba and Sinohydro have already submitted their bid to the project, together with the project finance proposal. If built, this will be the first large dam project in Ecuador, which is funded by China.

This year seems to be the year of recovery for dam building. China has announced their intention to approve a large number of domestic hydropower projects, in order to balance the proportion of energy sources and serve as an effort to combat global warming. In addition, many developing countries are seeking assistance from China to build dams. How can we put a brake before such projects are approved? What kind of strategy can we put to halt such projects until the people can get prior informed consent and fulfill the rest of WCD guidelines such as energy option assessment. This will be the major challenge for environmental activists.

没有评论: