This Bystander is starting to pick up details of a settlement between China and Myanmar following Naypyidaw’s unilateral suspension of construction work on the Myitsone hydroelectric dam on the Irrawaddy river. State media report that the two countries “agreed to properly settle matters” at a meeting between Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and his Myanmar counterpart, Wunna Maung Lwin, who had been dispatched to Beijing as a special envoy of Myanmar President Thein Sein for talks China had demanded. This followed a meeting between President Thein and Beijing’s ambassador to Naypyidaw at the weekend.
We understand, however, that Myanmar has agreed to compensate Beijing through further natural-resources concessions, including giving China an increased share of its revenues from the $2.5 billion oil and gas pipeline being built through central and northeastern Myanmar by state-owned China National Petroleum Corp to connect Yunnan to terminals it is building on the Indian Ocean. This will be done under the guise of repaying the loan agreement between China and Myanmar’s former military rulers to fund Myitsone, most of whose electricity is intended to be exported to China.
It is unclear when work will resume at Myitsone, in which state-owned China Power Investment Corp. is the main investor. The original announcement said the project would be suspended for the remainder of President Thein’s term of office, which ends in 2016. We also understand that work will continue on six other Chinese-backed hydro-power dams in Kachin State.