Articles

Latest developments in Myanmar

In China, Foreign Affairs, human rights on October 13, 2007 by Editor Z

The ruling Military regime in Myanmar balked at the passage of a United Nations resolution, criticizing the heavy handed stifling of dissident protests that occurred in late September weeks ago and have been silenced since.

The United Nation Security Council passed the resolution unanimously, after removing any talk of sanctions, instead the compromise resolution calling on the Myanmar ruling Military Junta to foster an ” inclusive national reconciliation”.

The compromise came after such countries as China and perhaps Russia, both of which have sold the Junta military arms, rejected such options as enacting an arms embargo, which would end any company or entity from selling weapons to the ruling Junta. Despite a U.S push for stronger condemnation, China the Geo-political powerhouse who has allied itself with Myanmar and wields great influence in Asia, stated that this is largely an internal domestic matter for the Myanmar military regime and that the international community should only play a minor supporting role in a more constructive relationship between the rulers and pro-democracy advocates within the Asian country.

“The Myanmar issue should be fundamentally and properly resolved with the efforts of Myanmar themselves and through consultation. China is ready to actively promote the proper settlement of the Myanmar issue together with the international community,” stated Chinese Foreign Ministery spokesperson Liu Jiancho .

In late September when the protests were gaining popular support, the Chinese condemned the response of the junta and called for restraint in their handling. But that appears to be as far as the Chinese are willing to go.

Meanwhile Dissident groups, such as monks who have been among those on the receiving end of the military harsh tactics against dissenting elements have alleged that guards at facilities housing those in prisoned have injured, beaten, and verbally abused those being held and even withheld any medical treatment to them after such injuries have been dealt.

At least a dozen freed prisoners, described brutal treatment at detention centers, including one who said that dozens of detainees were killed, according to the Democratic Voice of Burma, a Norway based short wave radio station and website run by dissident journalists.

Dissident sources as well as diplomats and critics of the regime state that 6,000 people have been imprisoned, while the Junta disputes that putting the number closer to 500. In a similar move the Junta claims ten people were killed in the Septembers Street protests and in the aftermath, while others outside the government estimate casualties to be as high as 200.

Myanmar officials claim through their state run media outlets that those who had protested in the streets are “stooges of foreign countries” and blame such outlets as Voice of America, the BBC, and Radio Free Asia for encouraging such disobedience.

Within the ruling elite however there has also been news, that one of the highest ranking officials, has perished. General Soe Win, the fourth highest in the chain of leadership within the ruling government died Friday at the age of 59 from a illness he had been battling for a lengthy period of time. Known as being autocratic and repressive, he is thought to have played a crucial part in the aggressive response of silencing anti-government and pro-democracy rallies back in 1988, and is accused by many of viciously attacking several supporters of Pro-democracy leader and imprisoned practitioner of non-violence, Nobel peace prize winner Aung Sun Suu Kyi, as a hoard of government supporters laid siege to her motorcade back in 2003, leaving several of her supporters dead or injured.

Sources: CNN, allnewsheadlines.com, yahoo.com

MY TAKE: So why is China constantly siding with countries such as the Sudan, Myanmar, and others who commit outright genocide, refusing to condemn them? Well I am obviously no diplomat or foreign policy expert nor will I pretend to play one on tv. But here are a few possibilities:

Access to Natural resources: According to Burmanet.org, Myanmar has the tenth largest natural gas reserves on the planet that extend up to ninety trillion cubic feet. India and China as well as perhaps Russia (not completly sure about Russia though I must warn you), have conducted lucrative millitary arms deals through the country’s State Peace and Developmental Council (SPDC) in hopes of gaining access to deals that would allow companies and assetts associated with those countries to tap into Myanmar’s vast natural gas reserves. As the populations of China and India continue to ballloon rapidly as does thier automotive and robust industrial capacity, more natural fuels are required and demand by thier populations are heavily increased.

India and China both seek to outdo one another in terms of influence and closeness to the regime in Myanmar in hopes of getting greater access to the Natural gas.

Another possibility is based more on history and has little other supporting evidence. This can’t be that true in the case of Iran and the genocidal Sudanesse government, who are not located on or near China. But China might fear that by condemning and clamping down on nearby Myanmar that the world is intruding on what they percieve as thier sphere of influence.

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