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Three Chinese engineers and a translator who went missing in Shan state more than a month ago may have been abducted by one of the many armed militias operating in the region, according to the spokesperson of the Shan State Army (SSA).
The four had been working on the China-backed Tasang Dam, a $US6 billion dollar megaproject which upon completion is set to be Southeast Asia’s tallest dam. It sits on the Salween River around 50 miles north of the Thai border in a region that hosts multiple anti- and pro-government warring factions.
A delegation from the China Three Gorges Project Corporation (CTGPC), one of the six companies involved in the project, met with SSA officials recently to investigate the missing men.
“We do have some information – we told the [delegation] we will make contact with the armed groups and find their staff,” said Major Sai Lao Seng, spokesperson of the SSA.
He added that he had urged the delegation to pressure the Burmese government to withdraw troops from the region so that the SSA, one of a number of insurgent groups operating in the eastern Burmese state, can carry out a search.
Speculation has circulated that the men were abducted by local militias as signal of their disquiet over the project, which will displace up to 10,000 people when 870 square kilometres of land is flooded, according to the campaigning group Salween Watch.
Many of Burma’s major hydropower projects are backed by Chinese companies are being constructed in the volatile border regions where fighting between anti-government groups and the Burmese army is escalating.
Yesterday around 30 Chinese workers were released from the Taping Dam site in Kachin state after being trapped there by fighting between Burmese troops and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).