Sunday, December 20, 2009

Will the Chinese Fund Ilisu?

PHOTOS of Hasankeyf, which the dam would destroy, from the Atlantic.

Yigal Schliefer at Istanbul Calling has posted a stirring report by Peter Bosshard, policy director at International Rivers, an NGO in California, on possible Chinese funding for the Ilisu damn project in the southeast. I wrote an extensive post on the troubled development project and the politics surrounding it back in July (see July 26 post). From Bosshard:
Turkey is so indebted it cannot finance the dam from its own resources. Reliable sources have told us that the Turkish government is currently discussing support for the Ilisu Dam with China. For years, the Turkish and Chinese governments have strongly disagreed over the treatment of the Uighur population, which is ethnically Turkic, in China’s Xinjiang Province. Yet in June 2009, Turkey’s President visited China and signed several cooperation agreements, including in the energy sector.

Under a plan which is currently being discussed, Andritz Hydro, the main contractor for the Ilisu hydropower project, would manufacture the turbines for the project in China rather than in Austria. Sinosure, an insurance company set up and owned by the Chinese government, would insure the bank loans for the contract. In a new twist in its emerging role, China would thus not enable its own dam builders to go abroad, but would underwrite the exports of Western dam builders which have shifted part of their manufacturing base to China.
For Bosshard's full report, click here.

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