Chinese hydropower company donates funds to Kachin refugees

July 20, 2012

Xinhua reports that Upper Irrawaddy Power, a Sino-Burmese joint venture that is building several dams in the Kachin State of Burma, has donated the equivalent of $24,000 via Christian organisations to Kachin refugees displaced by the fighting between the Burmese army and the Kachin Independence Army.

Earlier, a different Chinese hydropower company involved in the suspended Myitsone dam construction has built a Baptist church for local villagers at the dam site.

The efforts are indicative of steps taken by Chinese hydropower companies to improve relations with locals, especially as they are afraid that more projects may be stopped. These are buoyed by government instructions and public suggestions in China that state enterprises investing abroad should handle political risks more prudently and that they should not only deal with governments but also other actors.

This particular news is interesting not only because the beneficiaries are Christian churches — which tend to have close ties with U.S. organisations — but also because the Chinese government does not to recognise refugees in general and has leaned toward the Burmese government in the recent conflict.