Chinese Weapons Maker Signs Myanmar Deal June 23, 2010,
BY CHUIN-WEI YAP
China North Industries Corp., a leading Chinese weapons manufacturer, signed a cooperation pact with the government of Myanmar to develop a copper mining project, the latest sign of growing commercial ties between the reclusive Southeast Asian nation and its giant neighbor.
The Monywa Copper Mine Project Cooperation Contract was signed during Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to Myanmar in early June, China North Industries, or Norinco, said in a statement on its website. The statement was posted on the company’s website Wednesday, but dated June 10. It didn’t disclose financial terms.
The deal underlines how the isolated military rulers of Myanmar are increasingly turning to the country’s most important political and economic ally for support—and how China continues to seek natural resources from its southwestern neighbor to feed its industrialization.
The Norinco statement said Monywa is “abundant in copper mine resources with excellent mineral quality, which is of great significance to strengthening the strategic reserves of copper resources in our country, and to enhancing the influence of our country in Myanmar.”
YANGON (Reuters) – The Monywa copper mine in Myanmar’s rugged northwest Sagaing region should symbolize all the opportunities of a resource-rich country emerging from nearly half a century of military misrule.
Instead, as thousands of villagers protest against the mine in a rare standoff with authorities, Monywa is a vivid reminder of the festering problems that have long overshadowed Myanmar’s promise – from questions over rights abuses to the opaque dealings of the financially powerful military.
On Thursday, security forces confronted demonstrators armed with sticks and knives at the mine, a day after about 5,000 villagers protested over what they say is the unlawful seizure of thousands of acres of land to make way for a $1 billion expansion of the Chinese-run project.
Its backers, the military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd (UMEHL), operated with impunity for decades. Now, emboldened by reforms, villagers are pushing back and testing the limits of newfound freedoms, including a relaxation of laws on public protests.
The dispute has halted work at the mine run by a unit of China North Industries Corp, a leading Chinese weapons manufacturer, which signed a cooperation pact with the government of Myanmar in June 2010 to develop the project after Canada’s Ivanhoe Mines Ltd pulled out in 2007.
Win Cho, a Yangon-based activist, said the authorities detained one organizer of the protests and were searching for seven others in Sayhte village, about 750 km (465 miles) north of the commercial capital, Yangon.
“The police on Thursday night tried to raid Sayhte village in their hunt for the remaining seven activists but they gave up after villagers pushed back,” he said.
Police, some armed with rifles, faced down hundreds of angry protesters on an area of disputed land, according to video shot on Thursday by the Democratic Voice of Burma, a Norway-based media group run by exiles. The footage showed police advancing towards the protesters, beating their truncheons against their shields.
There was no violence. But two officers carried what appeared to be a crate of ammunition. The protesters carried signs, one of which read: “This land belongs to the village. No trespassing.” Others burned paper coffins bearing the mining company’s name, while the crowd cheered.
The Myanmar Times newspaper said the protest had delayed the start of a planned expansion aimed at raising capacity from 30,000 metric tons a year to about 100,000, although analysts said this would hardly affect Chinese buyers.
“Most of that will be going to China,” said London-based Deutsche Bank analyst Daniel Brebner. “But 30,000-100,000 metric tons is not a lot of metal, so it’s not going to impact balances within the copper market.”
The 2010 deal with China North Industries, or Norinco, was heralded at the time as a sign of Myanmar’s embrace of its powerful northern neighbor and of China’s insatiable hunger for natural resource to fuel an industrial boom.
But since Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao signed the pact during a 2010 visit Myanmar has seen dramatic changes – from the freeing of hundreds of dissidents to peace talks with ethnic rebels, a loosening of media censorship and signs of pulling back from the powerful economic and political orbit of Beijing. Continue reading “Burma_Myanmar :Chinese Weapons maker and Monywa Copper Mine Project”