“One Belt One Road” initiative update

A Chinese-funded dam in Cambodia is part of Beijing’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, and it has been a human rights “disaster” for indigenous and minority communities. A report Released on Tuesday.

Human Rights Watch claimed that the construction of the Lower Saisan 2 Dam at the confluence of the two tributaries of the Mekong River “washed away” the livelihoods of communities that depend on fishing, forest harvesting, and agriculture when the upstream area was flooded.

“The Lower Sesan 2 dam has severely damaged local communities, making them poorer and worsening,” the advocacy group said.

Experts say that with the construction of dozens of dams affecting the fragile fisheries and agricultural ecosystems on which tens of millions of people depend for survival, the plight of these people is repeated to varying degrees in the vast Mekong Delta.

“Because the dam blocks the passage of migratory fish, the region is on the brink of a food crisis,” said Brian Eller. “More than 400 large dams built on the mainstream and tributaries of the Mekong are giving this powerful River fisheries have caused thousands of deaths.” Director of Southeast Asia, the Stimson Center Think Tank, The last few days of the mighty Mekong.

Residents of Kbal Romeas pose in front of a sacred tree in the center of the village. © Sion Ang/SOPA/LightRocket/Getty

Human Rights Watch says nearly 5,000 locals have been displaced by Cambodia’s largest dam project © In Pictures Ltd/Corbis/Getty

“The Mekong River is home to the world’s largest inland fisheries-20% of the world’s freshwater fish catches-and tens of millions of people on the Southeast Asian continent rely on them for protein intake every day,” Eller added.

Criticism of the Lower Seysan 2 Dam highlights widespread concerns about China’s dam construction plan, which forms the backbone of China’s leader Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy strategy, the “Belt and Road” initiative. China has more than 10 large-scale hydropower projects under construction or completion in countries along the “Belt and Road” such as Indonesia, Uganda, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Georgia.

According to Human Rights Watch, nearly 5,000 locals were displaced by Cambodia’s largest Lower Sissan 2 project, which also “affected the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people upstream and downstream”.

Map showing the Mekong Dam

The people who made way for the dam were forced to accept insufficient compensation, the housing and services provided at the resettlement sites were poor, and they were not trained in other ways of making a living. The report added that fishery production has also fallen sharply.

China Huaneng Group, the largest shareholder of the dam, did not respond to emails and phone calls seeking comment.in a statement Earlier this year, it stated: “The Lower Sesan 2 power plant project was approved by the Cambodian government. The project company strictly abides by the development agreement while fulfilling its due obligations.”

The Human Rights Watch report accused the Cambodian Hun Sen government of promoting the project despite widespread local opposition.

However, government spokesman Siphan Phay rejected this statement. “Indigenous and minority communities will share the benefits of these developments,” he said. “Their livelihoods will be integrated into the main society-health, education and other modern lifestyle norms.”

The Lower Sesan 2 Dam is constructed and operated by the state-owned Huaneng Energy, with the Royal Cambodian Group and the Vietnamese state-owned public utility company EVN holding a minority stake.

The dam project started in 2013 and was completed in 2018. Boost Electricity production in Cambodia has been reduced by 20%. According to reports, most of the financing budget for the project is US$800 million, provided by the Chinese government bank.

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