Mon 25 Apr 2011
Filed under: Business / Trade
Extensive logging has been happening for four straight years in northern Burma for exporting timber to China, however China banned timber import from the area in late 2005.Every night, more than 300 six- wheeled trucks cross the border to China carrying hundreds of tons of timber from the forests in areas between northern Shan State and southern Kachin State, said local observers.
The powerful military-style trucks can carry 12 tons of timber, mainly for transport to the Nongdao Chinese border timber camp through five illegal corridors in the border, timber businessmen said.
A Chinese log-truck was heading to the Nongdao Chinese border timber camp on April 21.
Every border exit to Nongdao is watched by Burmese military agents, including personnel in the Forestry Department and they demand illegal taxes from each truck.
According to Chinese sources they have to pay gold bars worth one million kyat (US$1,176) per truck to the military officers in the Mong Mit (Momeik)-based military strategic command, Military Operational Command (MOC or Sa-Ka-Kha)-21, based in Bhamo (Manmaw) and Northern Regional Command, based in the Kachin State capital, Myitkyina.
Burmese military officials have demanded gold bars instead of banknotes from timber businessmen for three years, loggers said.
They also pay small amount of taxes to regional officers in various government departments along the truck route, added Chinese businessmen.
Between October last year and April 2011, more than 40,000 tons of timbers, especially hardwood and teak, have crossed into China, said a logging observer in Nam Hkam, the Burmese border town close to the Nongdao timber camp.
Chinese loggers even bring out tree roots, according to eyewitnesses.
The timber comes mainly from the forests in Mong Mit and Mantong townships in northern Shan State, and N’mawk (Momauk), Manje (Mansi) and Man Win areas in southern Kachin State.
Rampant logging is also happening around the Myitsone dam site on the Irrawaddy River, 27 miles north of Myitkyina. It is being carried out by the Burmese Asia World Company, the construction contractor, and a pro-government militia group led by Lasang Awng Wa. The dam construction began in December, 2009.
In the Hukawng Valley, in western Kachin State, extensive logging has been done to transform forests into crop plantations by the military-backed Yuzana Company and Htoo Trading Company, since late 2006.
The Htoo Company is owned by Tay Za, son-in-law of Burmese military leader, Senior General Than Shwe, while the Yuzana Company is chaired by U Htay Myint, who is close to Vice Senior General Maung Aye.
The most significant logging for export to China started after the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) signed a peace agreement with the Burmese military regime in 1994.
China imports timber from Burma for domestic and international sales.
Legal action is taken by the regime against the loggers who cannot pay the bribes to the authorities, said loggers.
China takes action against whoever cuts down a single tree in its Yunnan province, bordering with Burma, while neglecting the environmental impact of its extensive logging operations inside Burma.
Non-governmental organizations and churches cooperated to celebrate Earth Day today in Kachin communities in Kachin State and Northern Shan State through environmental awareness and education programs, organizers said.