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China seeks to protect Myitsone dam firms

In the aftermath of construction halting on Burma’s $3.6bn Myitsone dam, Beijing has asked Burma to protect the rights of its companies.

Burma’s president Thein Sein ordered a stop to work on the project on 30 September, overturning his government’s earlier insistence that construction would continue despite protests.

The dam, the largest of seven planned along the Irrawaddy river, provoked controversy over the planned relocation of thousands of people and its environmental impact.

The Myitsone project’s main contractors are China Power Investment Corporation, one of the country’s big power producers, and Asia World Company, a Burmese group.

Sinohydro, a China Power subsidiary and one of the world’s largest dam contractors, and another Chinese state-owned dam construction company, Gezhouba, are the primary subcontractors.

“[China] demands its companies to strictly follow the law of the countries they operate in but also calls on the respective governments to protect Chinese companies’ legal rights and interests,” said Hong Lei, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry.

The disruption could add momentum to a re-examination of Chinese state-owned groups’ push into infrastructure and power projects in often high-risk developing countries such as Sudan and Libya, said the Financial Times.

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