Monday, August 1, 2011

Chinese firm signals interest in Pakistan dam project

Chinese firm signals interest in PoK dam project
The Hindu, August 2, 2011

Islamabad urges Beijing to step up support to Pakistan's hydropower and
civil nuclear energy projects

Officials from China's biggest State-run hydropower firm on Monday
signalled interest in supporting the construction of a major $12 billion
dam project in the Gilgit-Baltistan region in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir
(PoK), even as Pakistan called on China to step up support to hydropower
and civilian nuclear energy projects in the country.

Officials from Sinohydro, a State-owned hydropower firm, discussed
proposals for the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha dam in PoK with the
visiting Pakistan Federal Minister for Water and Power, Syed Naveed
Qamar, on Monday, according to a statement from the Pakistan Embassy in

Mr. Qamar also invited Sinohydro's support for the construction of two
other dams, the Gomal Zam and Darawat projects, in talks with the
company's chairman Huang Baodong.

Mr. Qamar is in Beijing on a visit aimed at taking forward a
newly-formed Pakistan-China Joint Economic Working Group (JEWG), a
mechanism set up by the two countries to speed up investment in energy

China's accelerated involvement in energy and infrastructure projects in
PoK has raised concerns in India, with officials telling China last year
that the Indian government was concerned about "a pattern of what China
was doing" in the region.

China has, over the past year, stepped up its involvement in a number of
projects in disputed areas, signing deals to upgrade the Karakoram
Highway, build roads and take forward feasibility studies for a railway
link from China's western Xinjiang through the Gilgit-Baltistan region.

China's Gezhouba hydropower group has also signed a deal to work on the
Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project, also in PoK.

Chinese troops in PoK

Reports last year said more than 11,000 troops of the Chinese People's
Liberation Army were also stationed in the region, although Chinese
officials said their presence was limited to providing humanitarian
assistance in flood-affected areas, engineering corps and security
assistance to infrastructure projects.

Chinese officials have said their involvement in projects in PoK was
"without prejudice" to their long-standing position that the Kashmir
issue was for India and Pakistan to resolve.

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