Fri 7 Dec 2007
Filed under: News,Regional
China should rethink its policy of supporting the Burmese military government, especially in light of the recent arms shipments, say Burma observers.
On Thursday, some 400 Chinese-made FAW (First Automobile Works) armed trucks arrived in Jiegong, a Chinese border town, due to be transported into Burma, according to the local sources.
And according to an eyewitness, on November 6, seven large trucks transported some 21 artillery cannons via Ruili to Muse on the China-Burma border.
When it comes to arms sales, China definitely supports the Burmese junta despite the unstable situation in Burma, said Aung Kyaw Zaw, a Burmese analyst on the China-Burma border. He said that more than 1,500 armed trucks from China were imported to Burma in 2006.
However, in November, India put on hold the sale and transfer of all arms to the Burmese government, a decision following the junta’s brutal crackdown on peaceful demonstrations led by Buddhist monks.
Human Rights Watch released a statement on Wednesday urging the United Nations Security Council to impose an arms embargo in response to the Burmese military government’s continuing recruitment of children for its national army.
An exiled Burma observer, Win Min, said that he doesn’t see any sign that China will impose an arms embargo on Burma.
â€œFor China, they pay for arms shipment to Burma in order to get natural gas back from the junta,â€ said Win Min. â€œThey have great business interests in Burma, such as gas pipelines and dam projects. That’s why they are selling it [the arms shipment] to Burma.â€
Observers say that China, in supporting the junta, could be the targeted as an enemy by the people in Burma, who are running out of patience.
â€œIt would be best if China didn’t sell arms to Burma. In supplying weapons to the junta, people’s annoyance will become focused on them [China],â€ said political analyst Aung Naing Oo.
â€œThey [China] should consider the event of the attack on the Chinese consulate in Mandalay,â€ concurs Aung Kyaw Zaw.
In early October, the Chinese consulate in Mandalay was attacked by an unknown motorcyclist. Some critics and local residents alike view the isolated attack as a sign of growing discontent among the Burmese people in Mandalay against the Chinese government.
A former Burmese ambassador to China, Thakin Chan Htun, earlier said, â€œIf Burmese people can’t control their annoyance against the Chinese people, it could lead to riots between Chinese and Burmese people, just like the riots in the past.â€
In 1967, a major riot occurred between Burmese and Chinese residents in Rangoon, the Chinese embassy was attacked by Burmese demonstrators and more than 1,000 Chinese people were detained. Over 50 Chinese people were reportedly killed; however, the Chinese authorities claimed that several hundred died.
China became Burma’s leading trading partner in 2005, with trade heavily lopsided in China’s favor, topping US $1.7 billion, according to Sean Turnell, an economist and expert on Burma at Australia’s Macquarie University.
Recently, China National Petroleum Corp, the biggest oil and gas producer in China, signed an agreement with the southwestern province of Yunnan to cooperate in oil refining, a step toward building a pipeline to neighboring Burma.
Analysts estimate that the role of the Chinese government is significant in applying pressure on the Burmese military regime to initiate political dialogue toward democratic reform in Burma, as well as China not applying its veto on the Burma agenda at the UN Security Council.
â€œChina should put more pressure on the junta,â€ said Win Min. â€œIf not, their business will be unstable in Burma. They should also reduce their financial support in areas such as construction and development projects in Burma.â€