Chinese student from Columbia University visits scene of Ecuador copper conflict

As the Spanish newspaper El Pais  reported on 16 March, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities in Ecuador (CONAIE), the country’s largest “indigenous” umbrella group, is demanding the cancellation of a $5.4 bn contract with a Chinese-owned group called Ecuacorriente, signed on 5 March, to invest in Ecuador’s copper mining in the Amazon region. Previously, environmentalists protested in front of the Chinese embassy in Quito with banners that read “Chinese enterprises out of Ecuador.” The Chinese ambassador said the Chinese government urges Chinese companies to respect environmental norms and work with local communities.

Huang Hongxiang, a Chinese masters student at Columbia university visited the site of the copper mine and wrote a feature for Southern Weekend, concluding that in this conflict, “there are no simple rights and wrongs; rather, there are different values and a clash of cultures.”

Despite this anticlimactic conclusion, the article itself is quite reflexive and is part of a growing mass of critical reporting in China on China’s megaprojects overseas, often written by young journalists or development professionals, some of whom are employed by international or Western organisations but find it important to share their thoughts with Chinese readers.

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