Myanmar in early talks to buy electricity from China, says report

Myanmar is in preliminary talks to buy electricity from China, Reuters reported, citing comments by officials and documents seen by the news agency.

The talks were the first between the two countries to discuss joining their national grids to help meet Myanmar’s demand for power, Reuters said in August 3 report.

It quoted a senior Myanmar energy official as saying the “government-to-government talks” were still at an early stage. Myanmar “is still reviewing the details,” said the official, one of two familiar with the talks who spoke to the news agency.

Three Chinese state-owned companies have proposed separate plans to connect Myanmar’s national grid with the electricity network in China’s Yunnan Province, Reuters said, citing the documents and the two officials.

The proposals were made by China Electric Power Equipment and Technology Co Ltd, China Southern Power Grid Co Ltd, and one of its subsidiaries, Yunnan International Co Ltd.

Support more independent journalism like this. Sign up to be a Frontier member.

The documents show that China Electric Power Equipment and Technology signed a memorandum of understanding with Myanmar in March last year to build a high-voltage transmission line linking the border town of Muse with Meiktila, in Mandalay Region.

The MoU was extended for six months in May this year and a feasibility study had begun for the 500 kilovolt transmission line.

SCG proposed a similar plan in June involving the supply of power from Yunnan via high-voltage cable, the documents show.

The third proposal, by Yunnan International, involves the use of an existing cable to link Meiktila from Yunnan via Muse, according to the documents and one of the officials familiar with the talks, Reuters said.

It said the talks were the latest sign of warming ties with Beijing since the National League for Democracy government of State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi took office in late March last year.

Bilateral relations were strained under the previous Union Solidarity and Development Party government when President U Thein Sein in 2011 suspended work on the US$3.6 billion Myitsone dam, China’s largest hydroelectric project in Southeast Asia.

A bilateral agreement provided for 90 percent of the dam’s electricity to be exported to China.

The Reuters report said China’s “appetite” for the hydro project had waned in recent years as the combined effects of changing towards less-energy intensive industries and an economic slowdown had left Yunnan with a surplus of power.

Yunnan generates about 85 percent of its electricity from hydropower and sends surplus power to more developed eastern China, as well as Vietnam and Laos, the report said.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

More stories

Latest Issue

Stories in this issue
Myanmar enters 2021 with more friends than foes
The early delivery of vaccines is one of the many boons of the country’s geopolitics, but to really take advantage, Myanmar must bury the legacy of its isolationist past.
Will the Kayin BGF go quietly?
The Kayin State Border Guard Force has come under intense pressure from the Tatmadaw over its extensive, controversial business interests and there’s concern the ultimatum could trigger fresh hostilities in one of the country’s most war-torn areas.

Stay on top of Myanmar current affairs with our Daily Briefing and Media Monitor newsletters

Our fortnightly magazine is available in print, digital, or a combination beginning at $80 a year

Sign up for our Frontier Fridays newsletter. It’s a free weekly round-up featuring the most important events shaping Myanmar