Tim Johnston (Washington Post Foreign Service, Aug. 29, 2009)
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.
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>>