Regarding the article “Hundreds march in Myanmar over prices” (Aug. 23): Human rights activists and citizens marched through the streets of Rangoon in opposition to a steep rise of fuel prices. Unfortunately, policymakers around the world have not shown the same fortitude as these protesters. The UN Security Council has remained shamefully paralyzed on Burma for the past 8 months since China vetoed a multilateral resolution that would have condemned the country’s military regime.

Thankfully, opposition to China’s position on Burma seems to be growing. Last week, a group of members of parliament from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations called on China to modify its unequivocal support for the junta.

This move may represent the first time in recent history that China’s own neighbors are balking at its perceived heavy-handedness in regional diplomacy. In particular, Southeast Asian lawmakers are unhappy that China refuses to endorse Ban Ki Moon and Asean’s call for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi.

China could easily reverse the growing frustration with its policy on Burma by endorsing a multilateral approach to to the country, publicly supporting Ban Ki Moon and Asean’s calls for the release of Suu Kyi, ending attacks against ethnic minority civilians, and pressing Than Shwe, the military leader, to enter negotiations with Suu Kyi and Burma’s ethnic minorities.

Such moves would not only bring greater stability to Burma, they would in no way undermine China’s investments in the country. Those marching and bleeding in Rangoon – as well as those suffering and hiding in eastern Burma – hope for such an outcome.

Author: Jeremy Woodrum, Washington
Co-founder of the U.S. Campaign for Burma