US blocks Chinese dam

Myanmar, Tang pre: Myanmar workers standing on the bank of the Irrawaddy river in the country's northernmost Kachin state. Myanmar's president on September 30, 2011 ordered a halt to construction of a controversial 3.6 billion USD mega dam following rare public opposition to the Chinese-backed hydropower project. (AFP Photo)
The United States has extended its power of influence deep into Asia, as new WikiLeaks cables released reveal that the US embassy in Rangoon helped keep a dam planned by the Chinese from being built.

The People’s Republic of China was considered one of the largest funders of a massive would-be hydroelectric project on the Irrawaddy river in Burma that could have had a major impact on the Chinese people. The project was halted, however, after activists in the Burmese region successfully campaigned to thwart the construction.

The newest cables released reveal that the US helped fund those activists and played a major role in keeping the dam from being built.

According to a cable dated January 2010, local activists had "voiced strong opposition to the project on economic, environmental and cultural grounds and have organized grassroots campaigns to rally others to their cause.” Those activists received support out of the US embassy to pursue their protests.

"An unusual aspect of this case is the role grassroots organizations have played in opposing the dam, which speaks to the growing strength of civil society groups in Kachin state, including recipients of embassy small grants,” adds the diplomatic cable, which is signed-off on by US charge d'affaires, Larry Dinger.

In the cable, Dinger acknowledges that while the project would also benefit the people of Burma, the US considered it a mainly Chinese project as the nation was responsible for a bulk of the funding.

The Chinese have been quick to take on America’s international affairs as of late, recently blasting the Obama administrating for approving millions of dollars in upgrades to the Taiwanese air force. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun said at the time that the deal “will inevitably undermine bilateral relations as well as exchanges and cooperation in military and security areas.”