The Chinese power plants that took over a Vietnamese fishing village

“Do you think that it is good for us? They say that it will help improve our village.”
Hà Ninh Pham

Ashes and dust. The coastal fishing commune of Vinh Tan in southeastern Vietnam has been overwhelmed by ashes and dust since the construction of four power plants in the area. This has affected the health of residents. The sludge dumping by the power plants have also affected the marine environment, leading to huge reduction in shrimp and fish populations and disappearance of coral reefs. As the livelihood of fisherfolks and farmers are greatly impacted, many are forced to leave. 

The Vinh Tan power complex consists of a series of four power plants, all funded and constructed by different parties and consortiums. Chinese banks and companies are responsible for three of them, as part of China’s Belt & Road Initiative to develop the energy infrastructures of Vietnam. Vinh Tan-1, 2, and 4 started operations around 2017 to 2018. Vinh Tan 3 is now in a list of “troubled coal projects” after Mitsubishi pulled out, as a result of public pressure. 

The ashes and dust from the power plants have resulted in several protests. Some of these protesters were sentenced to jail. 

The situation has improved over the recent years. However, the dust pollution remains, especially when winds are strong. 


侵占越南渔村的中资电厂 (2021)

Các nhà máy điện Trung Quốc biến đổi một làng chài ở Việt Nam (2021)

This interactive program, designed by Vietnamese artist Hà Ninh Pham, allows you to make your way through what looks like an abandoned seaside village in Vietnam. It is left in its current state due to the construction of four Chinese power plants that promised to improve the village. Meet the inhabitants who remained and hear what they have to say. Available in 3 languages: English, Vietnamese, and Chinese.

This illustrated story is commissioned by Innovation for Change – East Asia. It is part of the project ‘Stories of the Impact of China’s BRI’, which features eight stories about communities who are severely impacted by projects that fall under China’s BRI or other Chinese-led development. For each story, we brought together a local community partner and an artist/storyteller. The local community partner did the research and analysis of the issues at stake for their community. After that, the artist/storyteller, with the guidance of a story curator, turned the research into a story. Featuring stories from Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, this project aims to show the range of adverse impacts brought on by developments that do not listen to the concerns of the affected communities. In amplifying their voices, we hope they can be heard.



Hà Ninh Pham is an artist from Hanoi, Vietnam. His work explores the way in which we build up our understanding of territories from afar. Hà Ninh Pham earned his MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 2018 and his BFA from the Vietnam University of Fine Arts in 2014.

The name of the local community partner is withheld for their security.


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