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Updated 2:12 PM EST, Wed, Jan 29, 2020

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Myanmar Faces Tough Decision on Chinese-Backed Myitsone Dam Project

Myanmar To Decide on Myitsone Dam Project.

(Photo : getty images.) Work has been suspended on the controversial Myitsone Dam Project since 2011.

Myanmar is set to make a decision on whether to restart construction work on the Chinese-backed Myitsone dam project, China's state media reported on Thursday. The project has been surrounded by controversy since the Myanmar government halted construction work in 2011 due to growing public uproar.

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A special advisory commission submitted its report on the controversial dam project to the Myanmar government on Friday, a state-owned newspaper Global New Light reported. The newspaper said that final decision would be taken after taking into consideration environmental cost and public opinion as well as its possible impact on foreign investment.  

Analysts say that the final decision would not be an easy one for Aung San Suu Kyi, the de-facto leader of the country. She will be under immense pressure to respect the local sentiment against the project, but cannot leave the Chinese leadership unhappy either.

The Chinese government attaches immense importance to multi-billion dollar project. This was underscored by Suu Kyi's historic visit to China earlier this year, when the Myitsone dam project emerged as one of the main talking points.

The Chinese leadership including President Xi Jinping reportedly urged Suu Kyi to resume work on the dam project as soon as possible.

The $3.6 billion Myitsone dam project has come to symbolize China's overt economic domination over Myanmar. Additionally, Suu Kyi government is immensely dependent on China to work out a sustainable peace process with ethic rebel militias settled around the China-Myanmar border.        

Foreign experts say that Suu Kyi cannot afford to leave Chinese leadership miffed, even if she wants to be swayed by popular sentiment against the controversial dam project.

The Myitsone dam project has faced opposition not only due to environmental concerns, but also due to lack of transparency and also for the possible impact of flooding on residents.     

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