Архив за месяц: Июль 2009

Russia Complains about Chinese Border River Project

MOSCOW (Reuters) — Russia complained about a major Chinese river project on Monday which it says will harm the Russian environment, the latest sign of strained relations between the two countries.

In a statement, Russia’s Environment Ministry expressed «serious concern on information about the continuation of construction in China of drainage canals, which may make the river Argun shallow on Russian territory.»

The Argun runs into the Amur river that acts as the frontier for Russia and China along a long stretch of their vast border.

The environmental complaint came a few days after a Chinese delegation met Russian officials to discuss the June 29 closure of a vast Moscow market which employed tens of thousands of Chinese.

«In light of the development of the Sino-Russian strategic partnership, China urges the Russian side to take a historical perspective, legally resolve the situation and protect Chinese merchants’ legal rights,» Vice-Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said in a statement after the talks.

Moscow’s Foreign Ministry later responded by saying China had agreed that the closure of Cherkizovsky market — which Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had said was a major focus of contraband goods — should not be allowed to sour ties.

China and Russia are members, along with Brazil and India, of the BRIC alliance of major developing economies and want closer economic and diplomatic ties. Beijing agreed this year to lend Russian oil firms $25 billion in exchange for 20 years of oil supplies at below market rates.

In the latest grievance, Moscow complained that China’s work on widening the Argun River, which had been suspended by a joint agreement in 2006, had restarted, according to satellite images taken between May 17 to July 17.

«According to our data, (the construction) can lead to significant negative consequences for the river Argun, its ecosystem, the life of which is linked to the river, as well as for the economic development of the trans-Baikal region,» said Rinat Gizatulin, a ministry department chief.

Environmental organization WWF in May warned that the Chinese project could have a devastating impact.

«Of course, we’re happy with the ministry’s response. The Chinese plans would have serious consequences for the region on the Russian side of the border,» said Evgeny Shvarts, director of conservation policy with WWF in Moscow.

(Reporting by Conor Sweeney; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)


IUCN Expresses Its Deep Concern to Russian and Chinese Leadership

On July 9, 2009, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature sent an appeal to Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev expressing its deep concern regarding the potentially disastrous environmental impacts of the Hailaer/Argun River-Dalai Lake water diversion project. IUCN reminds the leaders that the Daurian Steppe has been identified as «one of the most important natural temperate grassland biomes remining on Earth» for the rich biodiversity the wetlands and surrounding floodplains support. Furthermore, this particular area is the subject of a biodiversity conservation agreement signed between Russia and China in 2007; with these letters, IUCN urges both leaders to engage in cooperative transboundary efforts to preserve the ecosystem and mitigate the potential climatic changes that this and other water infrastructure projects in the region may cause.

IUCN Letter to Hu and Medvedev

Mongolian NGOs campaign for river protection

The leaders of the River Movements went on hunger strike starting from July 2 to urge Mongolian legislature to adopt a law protecting vulnerable parts of river basins from mining. If the law is enacted, about 30% of Mongolian territory, mostly river valleys and headwaters will be protected from major encroachment.

They also issued an open letter to secure public support for the draft law which states to prohibit mining operations in river basins and forested areas and to have it approved by the Parliament during 2009 Spring Session of the Parliament.

On December 25, 2008, the draft law was introduced to the Parliament by a group of Parliament Members led by PM B. Bat-Erdene. On May 7, 2008, the Environmental and Agricultural Standing Committee of the Parliament discussed the draft law and then it was forwarded to the Parliament on May 8th. Most of the PMs expressed their support for the draft law and agreed to discuss it at next Parliament meeting. Then on May 13, a Standing Committee was formed to build the framework of the law.

However, the Standing Committee has held back its work with an intention to postpone the discussion of the draft law during the spring session of the Parliament. Some members of the committee are known to have close connections to the mining companies and own mining licenses.

All seven leaders of the River Movements worked and campaigned in their provinces for the support of the draft law. The President, the Prime Minister and several Parliament members have already received 6000 letters of support from 13 provinces. It was also signed by many leaders of environmental NGOs in Russia and other neighboring countries.

Source: Mongolian River Movements
July 3, 2009