February 3, 2017 / 11:37 AM / 9 months ago

China says Bangladesh power plant protest not aimed at China

BEIJING (Reuters) - A protest this week against a $2.4-billion Chinese-backed power plant in Bangladesh which turned violent was not against Chinese participation in the project but due to residents’ “different opinions”, China’s Commerce Ministry said on Friday.

The coal-fired plant being built 265 km (165 miles) southeast of Dhaka, the capital, is a major draw for foreign investment in Bangladesh, and is expected to begin power generation by the end of 2019.

At least one person was killed and about a dozen were injured in the protest, risking delay to a project seen as a symbol of warming ties between the two countries.

Bangladeshi police said villagers in the area feared evictions, the disturbing of family graveyards and damage to the environment.

China’s Commerce Ministry said the project accorded with Bangladeshi legal requirements.

“The mass incident on Feb. 2 was not to oppose the participation of the Chinese company in the project, but was a dispute and clash created by residents’ different benefit demands and different opinions,” the ministry said, without elaborating.

China has consistently demanded its companies respect the laws and customs of the countries they operate in, especially the protection of the environment, it added.

Bangladesh conglomerate S Alam Group has a deal with China’s SEPCOIII Electric Power Construction Corp to build the 1,320-MW plant.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel

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