日期:2011-06-15 11:16



Chinese takeaway kitchen

Three articles look at China’s influence in South-East Asia: first;resentment in Myanmar;second, Cambodian rivalries; third, Banyan on the strategic implications


WAIST-DEEP in the muddy water, hundreds ofpeople swirl their pans, scouring the black sediment for the sparkle of golddust. They have come from all over Myanmar to Kachin state, where the N’Mai andMali rivers merge to form the mighty Irrawaddy, knowing that a good day mayyield $1,000-worth of gold—and that time for gold-panning is running out.


Across the river, the corrugated-iron roofsof a prefabricated barracks glint in the midday sun. They house hundreds ofChinese labourers working on the Myitsone hydropower project. This, accordingto Myanmar’sgovernment, will be the sixth highest dam in the world, and generate 6,000MW ofelectricity a year. On completion in 2019, the dam will flood thegold-prospecting area and displace more than 10,000 people. All the electricitywill be exported to China.All the revenue will go to Myanmar’sgovernment. If an environmental and social impact study was conducted at all,it did not involve consulting the affected villagers.


A local Catholic priest who led prayersagainst the dam says his parishioners were moved to a “model” village, intotiny houses on plots too small for cultivation. The letters of concern he sentto Myanmar’sleaders went unanswered. He says he will stay in his historic church “till thewaters rise over the doorstep”.


Those displaced are not the only onesworrying about the project. The project abuts territory controlled by theKachin Independence Organisation (KIO), one of a plethora of ethnicinsurgencies that have battled the central government for decades. Last yearseveral bombs exploded at the dam site and in May the KIO warned that if thedam were not stopped it would lead to civil war. The KIO’s armed wing recentlyengaged in skirmishes with government forces, despite a notional ceasefire.


The KIO was banned from last year’selection in Myanmarbecause it refused to let its fighters join the government’s “border securityforce”. Its threat came as Myanmar’snewly installed “civilian” president, Thein Sein, a former general, embarked ona state visit to China.


China has a big stake in Myanmar.It is the country’s leading foreign investor. Myitsone is one of manyhydropower, mining and infrastructure projects there. China’s mostambitious undertaking is a new deep-sea port for oil tankers. Due forcompletion in 2013, it will take gas from Myanmar’soffshore Shwe field and will have the capacity to satisfy 10% of China’soil-import needs.


These close ties are not entirelycomfortable for either side. Between 1mand 2m Chinese citizens have movedinto northern Myanmar.They dominate the jade-and-gem trade, push up land prices and flaunt theirwealth in Mandalayand Myitkyina, where all the posh cars have Chinese number plates. Localresentment is growing. Church leaders in Myitkyina say Chinese people make upmore than half the population. Many Burmese say their northern states are likea Chinese province.


China,for its part, worries about the security of its investments and people. In thepast it has leaned on Myanmar’sleaders to prevent fighting between the army and the ethnic insurgencies. Whenconflict broke out in 2009 with the Kokang, an ethnic-Han-Chinese minority,37,000 people fled to China,provoking sharp criticism of the Burmese junta.


As its economic interests have grown, China has pressed for more access to Myanmar’sharbours and territorial waters, to monitor the security of the new port andpipelines, and to keep an eye out for pirates. But this is a neuralgic issuefor a country with a deep-seated suspicion of its powerful northern neighbour.


Myanmar’s xenophobic leaders are trying to reduce their dependence on China by playing it off against Indiaand the West. But India hasbeen slow in trying to gain a toehold, while Americaand the European Union have recently extended sanctions on Myanmar. Theseinclude America’sembargo on backing loans from the World Bank, which would impose higherenvironmental and other standards on big infrastructure projects such asMyitsone.


So the regime is being drawn into China’sorbit as much from necessity as choice. That does not make China any morepopular. In the words of an old Burmese monk: “We are China’skitchen. They take what they like and leave us with the rubbish.”


  • regimen. 政体,制度 n. 养生法(=regimen)
  • controlledadj. 受约束的;克制的;受控制的 v. 控制;指挥;
  • flauntv. 挥动,夸耀,(厚颜无耻地)炫耀,飘扬,张扬
  • strategicadj. 战略的,重要的,基本的
  • extendedadj. 延续的,广大的,扩大范围的 动词extend的
  • territoryn. 领土,版图,领域,范围
  • dependencen. 依赖,信赖,上瘾
  • sedimentn. 沉淀物
  • resentmentn. 怨恨,愤恨
  • capacityn. 能力,容量,容积; 资格,职位 adj. (达到最