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Source: www.asiaecon.org |


China has launched an important project in Vietnam's Central Highlands region. The project is costing an estimated $15 billion and is between Chinalco, which is a Chinese government-controlled mining giant, who is working under contract to a Vietnamese mining consortium, called Vinacomin.

The scheme has raised immigration, employment, environmental and social issues.

Immigration and Employment Conflicts

The project has raised immigration issues between the Chinese and Vietnamese due to the troubling economic climate that remains in the global economy. More than 2,000 Chinese workers will be imported to work at a big new bauxite mining project in Vietnam, while 500 others are already working at a bauxite mine in nearby providences. The dramatic influx of foreign workers in Vietnam has led to an outcry from many unemployed Vietnamese that have been affected by the economic downturn.

Citizens of Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos have also expressed concern about the inflow of Chinese workers as well, where Chinese workers have been exported to work on China-invested projects.

According to researchers, “Labor migrants have left China and settled throughout Southeast Asia, seeking better opportunities in difficult times and creating burgeoning and long-standing communities.” Some, like Keefe, describe China’s labor market as “exquisitely responsive to economic conditions, both inside and outside China ... Since the advent of the current global recession, we have seen a huge internal migration in China, with migrant workers leaving the coastal boomtowns and heading back to their ancestral villages. It seems likely that many others will leave China altogether, trying their luck in countries like Vietnam.”

Although the Chinese labor force is just trying to keep up with the difficult economic times, domestic workers do not want the competition of foreign workers. John Walsh, an expert on Asian labor trends and migration at Shinawatra University in Bangkok, the issue of growing outward Chinese migration is a predicament for the region’s foreign investment-starved governments and slowing economies. He believes “…anti-Chinese sentiment remains quite close beneath the surface.”

“Vietnam is slightly different in that it features, at least to some extent, official Chinese overseas ventures in a country which has more power vis-à-vis overseas investment - hence the repatriations.” He says that China is pushing its energy-related industries overseas in search of new resources, which has spurred energy companies along with other sectors to seek profitable ventures overseas “to boost sagging demand at home. The government and companies would prefer to employ Chinese workers to help address the growing unemployment problem at home.”

Since China is currently one of the few countries with the money to invest, others believe they are “biasing… negotiations in their favor.”

“Officially, the Chinese are pushing domestic companies overseas. This is a priority, and to this end they have made several policies that ease domestic Chinese companies access to resources and foreign exchange that promotes overseas investments.”

The Environment and Social Problems

The campaign that opposes the project say, “The short sighted Bauxite mining projects planned and promoted by the Vietnamese government will turn hundreds of thousands of hectares of magnificent bio-diverse forests, exotic animals and plants, natural waterfalls and other surface water bodies, and the agricultural lands (e.g., cash crops, coffee, tea, and rubber for exports) of the Central Highlands literally upside down in order to extract a thin layer of bauxites from the soil to turn into raw materials for alumina production mainly for export to China.”

It is said that in the province of Dak Nong, about 100,000 families of about 300,000 people out of a total population of 400,000 inhabitants will be negatively affected. They say that the mining strategy might destroy the heritage of the Space of Gong Culture and the forests and traditional lands of the indigenous peoples and other highlanders of the Central Highlands, which has been their homeland for more than 2,000 years.

Environmentalists are asking that the Vietnamese government allow the Bauxite mining projects to undergo transparent due process of the environmental impact assessment (EIA), which is required by Vietnam’s environmental laws and regulations. To this, Vietnamese Planning and Investment Minister Vo Hong Phuc said, “Please be assured that Vietnam has prepared well for this project to ensure the economic effectiveness as well as a minimum of negative impact on society and the environment.”

Source: www.asiaecon.org |


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