Sunday, August 30, 2009

China urges Burma to bridle ethnic groups

China Urges Burma to Bridle Ethnic Militia Uprising at Border
Tim Johnston (Washington Post Foreign Service, Aug. 29, 2009)

Aung San Suu Kyi behind bars, rebel crack down...General Than Shwe is upbeat.

BANGKOK, Thailand -- A Burmese government crackdown on powerful ethnic militias that have challenged its rule for more than 60 years has driven 10,000 refugees into neighboring China, prompting a rare rebuke from Chinese authorities, the Burmese military dictatorship's key allies.

(WQ editorial) The father of Burma's dictator, General Than Shwe, is Chinese. China is the junta's principal enabler purchasing timber, minerals, and defending it in the UN. The countries share a border, which leads to illegal trade sideskirting sanctions.

The refugees fled over the border into China's Yunnan province in the past few days after fighting erupted between Burmese government troops and ethnic militia fighters from the Kokang region of the nation also known as Myanmar.

China called on the Burmese authorities to "properly handle domestic problems and maintain stability in the China-Myanmar border region," according to a statement from Foreign Ministry spokesman Jiang Yu. "We also urge Myanmar to protect the security and legal rights of Chinese citizens in Myanmar."

China has been balancing support for the Burmese government with backing for the armed ethnic groups that occupy much of the Burmese side of the border. The border regions are heavily influenced by China, with many Chinese businesses taking advantage of the trade in gems, timber and jade. More>>