Despite strong global protest to Ecuador’s XI Oil Round that places some 10 million acres of pristine Amazon rainforest, and seven indigenous nationalities, at risk of social environmental and cultural devastation, Ecuador’s government continues to move forward in its efforts to auction off blocks of rainforest to international oil companies and investors.
XI Oil Round Makes its Way To Asia
Governments Contradict Their Own Laws and Guidelines
Amazon Watch’s report states that China’s participation in the oil round would violate the nation’s recently enacted foreign investment guidelines stipulating that Chinese foreign investment actively take into account environmental and social concerns. Amazon Watch states:
Article three of the ministries’ new guidelines on environmental protection in foreign investment directs enterprises to respect the cultural traditions of local communities and ‘promote harmonious development of local economy, environment and community.’ Similarly, article nine directs companies to ‘take into full account the impacts of their…operation activities on the social environment such as historical and cultural heritages, scenic spots and folk customs.’
Additionally, China’s participation would fly in the face of the China Banking Regulatory Commission’s Green Credit Guidelines that urge Chinese banking institutions to, among other things, “…effectively identify, measure, monitor and control environmental and social risks associated with their credit activities…”
China’s interests in Ecuador involve more than oil. A Chinese company, Ecuacorriente, has already been granted permission by Ecuador to begin open-pit mineral mining in the southeastern section of the Amazon – an area that also is home to the Shuar. Ecuacorriente plans to dig a total of six open-pit mines in what is known as the Condor Highland.
The oil round also contradicts Ecuador’s own constitution that gives legal rights to nature.
‘Good Living’ and ‘Harmonious Development’?
China’s interest in oil and mining in Ecuador squares with the two nations’ mutual interest in development cooperation and trade balance. Ecuador’s Ambassador in China has stated that the two countries endeavor to, “…strengthen existing trade links and achieve mutual beneficial development through the Ecuadorian conceptions of the “Good Living” and China’s “harmonious development.” Thus far, it has yet to be seen how strongly Ecuador’s Good Living strategy, and China’s harmonious development will take into account environmental concerns and indigenous rights.
Further Reading (from the Guardian UK):
- China’s Exploitation of Latin American Natural resources Raises Concern
- Ecuador Auctions Off Amazon to Chinese Oil Firms
Photo credit: Dallas Krentzel from Flickr Creative Commons