Al Jazeera investigates ties between Louisiana and the Chinese government in a proposed $1.85 billion methanol plant
Originally published on Al Jazeera America – Jan. 26, 2015
***This article is part one of a three-part series on China’s role in redeveloping southern Louisiana called China’s Louisiana Purchase. The second part explores allegations of environmental racism by the predominantly black community where the plant will be built. The third part examines New Orleans’ controversial bid for EB-5 investments.
ST. JAMES PARISH, La. — A prominent Chinese tycoon and politician — whose natural gas company’s environmental and labor rights record recently started coming under fire in the Chinese press — is parking assets in a multibillion dollar methanol plant in a Louisiana town. And he appears to be doing it with help from the administration of likely GOP 2016 presidential ticket contender Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Not many locals in a predominantly black neighborhood of St. James Parish — halfway between New Orleans and Baton Rouge — know that Wang Jinshu, the Communist Party Secretary for the northeastern Chinese village of Yuhuang and a delegate to the National People’s Congress, is the man at the helm of a $1.85 billion methanol plant to be built in their town over the next two years with a $9.5 million incentive package from the state. The details of the project are unclear, residents say, largely because they were not told about the project until local officials, amid discussions with state officials and Chinese diplomats, decided to move forward with the project in July 2014.