Foreign investment in Myanmar increased more than fivefold to reach almost one billion dollars last year, as neighbouring China pumped money into its mining sector, official statistics showed.

Foreign investments in Myanmar reach nearly US$1b

Total foreign investment in the military-ruled nation increased from 172.72 million dollars in the 2007-2008 fiscal year to 985 million dollars in 2008-2009, the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development said.

Myanmar’s fiscal year begins on April 1 and ends on March 31.

China’s investment in mining accounted for 856 million dollars while Russia and Vietnam collectively invested 114 million dollars in the oil and gas sector and Thailand spent 15 million dollars in the hotel and tourism sector, it said.

Myanmar is the subject of sanctions imposed by the United States and European countries because of alleged rights abuses and its long-running detention of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is currently on trial.

But the impact of those sanctions has been weakened as neighbours, notably China, spend heavily on Myanmar’s natural gas, timber and precious stones. The two countries share a 1,370-mile (2,205-kilometre) border.

Protest against cross-border road project by HSENG KHIO FAH


Local populace along the Thai-Burma border last week staged a protest against a joint road project between a Thai firm and the Burma Army, according to local sources reports.

On 10 July, villagers in Ban Hintaek (Ban Therd Thai), the former stronghold of the late Mong Tai Army (MTA) leader Khun Sa, in Chiangrai’s Mae Fa Luang district, held a demonstration against the road project of Saraburi Coal Mining, a subsidiary of Ital-Thai, that had been granted concession by Burmese authorities to extract coal from Shan State East’s Mongkok sub-township, Monghsat township, 70km north of Chiangrai border towards the end of 2008.

The protestors argued that the road project could affect local village life, endanger the environment, promote drug trafficking and place local people’s lives at risk as the proposed area is operated by the anti-Naypyitaw Shan State Army (SSA) ‘South’ and the United Wa State Army (UWSA).

Tensions between the Burma Army and the UWSA have been on the rise since April, when the latter was called upon to become border security forces under the former’s command. “Without their permission, we won’t dare agree,” a participant in the protest who requests anonymity said.

At the same time, the SSA South’s Lt-Col Gawnzeun, Commander of the Kengtung Front based at Loi Gawwan, 10 miles east of the proposed border pass also told SHAN, “I don’t believe they (the Thai company) will go ahead with the road construction without informing us in advance.”

The deposit in Mongkok is anticipated to boast at least 150 million tons of raw coal, one third found to be Grade A. It would take 40 years long to deplete the fields even with 200 ten wheelers working each day to transport the diggings, according to an official from the company. Continue reading “Protest against cross-border road project by HSENG KHIO FAH”