679 allegations of BRI-related abuses . . .
The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) released a reportlast Wednesday about the human rights impact of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The report claims that between 2013 and 2020, there were 679 allegations of human rights abuses involving Chinese companies operating abroad. The alleged abuses range from violation of land rights to a lack of disclosure regarding environmental impact assessments. The report claims that Myanmar had the highest number of human rights abuses with 97 allegations, followed by Peru with 60, Ecuador with 39, Laos with 39, and Cambodia with 34. The mining and construction sectors accounted for most of the human rights abuse allegations, accounting for 35 per cent and 22 per cent, respectively.
Human Rights Watch alleges abuses in Cambodia . . .
The BHRRC’s report was released just one day after Human Rights Watch published a report about the BRI’s dam in Cambodia, calling it a “rights disaster.” The dam in question is a BRI-funded hydroelectric project in northeastern Cambodia called the Lower Sesan 2 Dam. The report claims that the dam’s construction resulted in the displacement of 5,000 people and impacted the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people upstream and downstream. One interviewee from the community told Human Rights Watch, “The company didn’t consider Indigenous rights. They just told us to move.” The report also states that those who were displaced were “coerced into accepting inadequate housing compensation for lost property and income.”
What the future of the BRI could hold . . .
Both reports come after the EU and the G7 each announced infrastructure initiatives of their own to rival the BRI. The EU’s ‘Globally Connected Europe’ and the G7’s ‘Build Back Better World’ aim to prioritize human rights, sustainability, and the involvement of local communities. With these new competitors, as well as the HRW and BHRRC reports, it is worth asking whether China’s BRI will be compelled to change course regarding human rights and sustainability. Some analysts argue that change has already begun, with the BRI not taking on any coal projects so far this year. A change of course for the BRI is certainly warranted – whether it will occur is something Asia Watch will keep an eye on.
- Al Jazeera: Alleged abuses linked to China’s ‘Belt and Road’ projects: report
- Human Rights Watch: China’s ‘Belt and Road’ Dam is Rights Disaster
- South China Morning Post: Human rights abuses claimed in hundreds of China belt and road projects