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China firm wins Myanmar approval for $3 bln refinery

Chinese state-controlled commodity trader Guangdong Zhenrong Energy Co has won approval from the Myanmar government to build a long-planned $3 billion refinery in the Southeast Asian nation in partnership with local parties including the energy ministry, company executives said on Tuesday.

The project, which also includes an oil terminal, storage and distribution facilities, would be one of the largest foreign investments in decades in Myanmar. Myanmar currently imports most of its fuel.

The Myanmar Investment Committee granted the Chinese firm approval to build a 100,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) refinery in the southeast coastal city of Dawei, Li Hui, a vice president of Guangdong Zhenrong and head of the company’s refining business, told Reuters.

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For Myanmar, temptation of cheap coal ‘hard to ignore’

Myanmar’s new government is set to mushroom coal’s share of its energy mix, despite manifesto pledges to boost clean energy and cut air pollution.

The National League of Democracy (NLD) took power last Wednesday, formally ending nearly five decades of oppressive military junta.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s party will stick to existing targets to increase coal-fired power from 2% to 30% within 15 years, as it expands energy access in a country with one of the world’s lowest electrification rates.

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In Burma’s wildest corner, jade, drugs and rebels will test the new government

The jade tycoon of Burma lives behind stone walls and a sophisticated security system. A visitor must be buzzed through a gate into the garden, pass a hunk of jade as big as a compact refrigerator, enter through a sliding screen and glide by the preserved tusks of the family elephant before sitting down with the man himself.

Yup Zau Hkawng is a well-known figure in Burma’s Kachin state, a broker in the peace process between armed rebels and the military and one of the few ethnic Kachin to own a jade mining business.

Burma’s northernmost state is home to 1.2 million people and some of the country’s most intractable problems — including a rapacious jade mining culture, opium cultivation, environmental devastation, controversial development deals with China, and an armed insurgency. Kachin may pose one of the stiffest challenges to the new democratically elected civilian government, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, that has taken over a country that suffered decades of military rule.

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Vietnam seeks Netherlands’ help in preserving water in Mekong Delta

Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Chu Pham Ngoc Hien made the call at the fifth meeting of the Vietnam – Netherlands Intergovernmental Committee on Climate Change Adaptation and Water Management in Hanoi on March 30.

He noted that the issue had been raised in the committee’s fourth meeting but so far no suitable partners were found for the work.

The Deputy Minister highlighted the success of Mekong Delta Plan, adding that after reviewing the recommendations made by the plan, Vietnam realised that more in-depth measures are needed to improve water management in the Delta.

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UPA signs B10bn Dawei power plant deal

The signing ceremony was held on Monday to mark the start of investment in a 200-megawatt plant to be located in Kanbauk.

Mr Upakit said the move to develop the 200MW power plant came after the first step last June, when subsidiary Andaman Power and Utility Co (APU) signed a contract with the Tanintharyi regional government to supply electricity and develop the 20MW gas project in Dawei.

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Concern over big power projects on exemption list

POWER-PLANT projects that could generate up to 30,778 megawatts, proposed in the Power Development Plan 2015, have shown up in the city-planning exemption list announced by the National Energy Policy Council, raising concern among environmental activists over unregulated development.

Thursday’s announcement also includes alternative power projects under the Alternative Energy Development Plan 2015 and LNG (liquefied natural gas) station and receiving-terminal projects under the Gas Plan 2015.

The controversial Mae Wong Dam in Nakhon Sawan is also on the list appended to the announcement.

Surachai Trongngam, secretary-general of the Environmental Litigation and Advocacy for the Wants Foundation, said the announcement was clarification of a previous National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) order, 4/2559, and gave more specific information on which projects were being included in the city-law exemption list.

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Vietnamese campaign warns of nightmarish coal future

A future built on coal is a dark and dystopian nightmare, according to a new anti-coal campaign launched by environmental groups in Vietnam.

The new photo campaign is called “I Can’t” and it features popular Vietnamese actors, musicians and artists wearing gas masks, performing before a devastating backdrop of smog, societal breakdown and climate change devastation.

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Land Conflict Victims Call for a Stop to Lake Filling

Pav Suy More than 300 protesters from about 40 communities affected by land disputes throughout the country launched the Free the Lakes campaign yesterday, marching through the capital to the National Assembly accompanied by monks before submitting a petition to the governing body. The protesters gathered on a large swathe of sand-filled area that was […]

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China’s its own worst enemy in regional relations

China’s pattern of regional conduct has come increasingly into focus in recent times. Its behaviour is much less about maintaining the ‘status quo’, and much more about revising the established dynamics and contours in the region to its preferences. This revisionism is likely to become the primary source of tensions and potential conflict in Southeast Asia.

A view of the dam at the Jinghong Hydropower Station on the Lancang River, the Chinese section of the Mekong River, in Jinghong city, Yunnan province, 20 May 2013. (Photo: AAP).

Nowhere are China’s revisionist aims more evident than in the South China Sea and the upper reaches of the Mekong River, which straddles southern China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

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Daw Suu’s in-tray piles up as CSOs raise their voice

Civil society organisations, in general steadfast supporters of the National League for Democracy and its leader, have not been idle in pressing their demands, many in critical areas combining overlapping aspects of her multiple ministerial posts.

Yesterday the NLD received an appeal by three prominent CSOs in Shan State calling for the immediate halt of construction work that has already begun on the controversial Upper Yeywa dam on the Myitnge (Namtu) River, as well as plans to build three others.