China is floating plans to build a 3,300 mile railway network through the Amazon, jeopardizing one of the most critical and bio-diverse ecosystems on Earth. Next week while touring South America, China’s Premier Li Keqiang will move ahead with discussions started last year by President Xi Jinping to connect the Atlantic in Brazil with the Pacific in Peru in order to facilitate faster and cheaper trade in commodities such as oil and iron ore, the Guardian reports. The railway network would slice through Amazonian swamps, forest and either desert or mountains, and disturb tribes that have never before had contact with the outside world.

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The Guardian notes the plan, which is backed by both presidents of Brazil and Peru, will be extremely difficult to execute given the nature of the terrain through which it is expected to be built. Designed to start at Açu Port in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro state, the railway network would slip around Bolivia and eventually reach Peru’s west coast. In addition to bumping up against vulnerable tribes and drug traffickers, construction would wreck havoc on an already imperiled ecosystem that provides innumerable services to humanity.

Related: Watch as Amazon tribe makes contact with the outside world for the first time

China is undertaking a variety of massive infrastructure projects outside of its own borders. The country is widely criticized for taking over Africa with projects like the Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor project. The port in Lamu in particular puts social and environmental cohesion at risk in a historical and ecologically-rich Swahili town reached only by boat or plane. Other Chinese-backed projects in Nicaragua and Colombia tell a similar story.

Via The Guardian

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