Burma’s strategic Consultation on China concluded
: Concentrating on the critical roles played by China in Burma’s democratic reforms and aiming to persuade China to get on board in the ongoing struggle for democratization in Burma, the Burmese native scholars, political leaders, non-Burman ethnic leaders, and activists representing various organizations from different countries held a two-day long strategic consultation under the leadership of the Canadian Friends of Burma (CFOB) in Ottawa, Canada from 29-30 August, 07, where the participants thoroughly discussed means and ways to deal China in a realistic terms, ensuring that China supports the emergence of the democratic government in the Union of Burma.
In the consultation, while the ongoing economic and military relations between Burma and China are of the prime focus of the discussions, the consultation also touches on questions such as whether or not China is a friend or foe for Burma , generating different conclusions and interpretations based on the position one takes.
Finding out the reasons why China is supporting the military regime rather than the democratic forces, One can deduce from the consultations as to why, among others, China supports the Burmese military regime is not just because China has its own economic interests in Burma, but also because of lack of pragmatic alternatives in China’s view or there is no clear alternative force from the side of the democratic opposition forces that China can count on as opposed to supporting the military regime.
Moreover, while analysing the weak points facing the democratic opposition forces today in dealing with China and others, among the problems cited are lack of clear-cut policies or policy recommendations, diverse opinions and contested voices, overlapping roles played by actors and activists, and failure to fully grasp the Chinese thinking, among others.
In the conference, on behalf of the Canadian Government, Honourable Scott Reid, the deputy government House leader, and Hon. Paul Dewar, the Vice-chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Burma, gave a key note addresses respectively, reassuring the people of Canada and the Canadian government’s unwavering supports and commitments to continuously working for a democratic reform in Burma, and consistently strengthening the pro-democratic forces working for democratization in Burma.
From the two-day long consultation, the participants also issued a statement entitled the Ottawa Declaration, calling on the international players and international community to support the democratic forces working for the speedy restoration of democracy in the Union of Burma and continuously step up their pressures against the Burmese military regime.
Among the points raised in the declaration, viewing that the model of the six-party talks on North Korean nuclear issue can be practically helpful for Burma, the Consultation strongly calls on Canada, ASEAN, the European Union, the United States of America, Russia and Burma’s neighbours, to convene a multi-party talk similar to Six-party Talks on North Korea, to facilitate reforms and a transition. Besides, as the political instability in Burma is getting worse and, with the intention to bring to an end the sufferings of the 53 million people of Burma , the participants also called on Canada and the international community to urgently address the deteriorating political, economic and humanitarian situation in Burma .
While the western countries cut off their economic and diplomatic ties with the Burmese regime following the military regime’s crackdown on the peaceful demonstrators in the nation-wide peoples’ uprising against the military regime in 1988, China was and has been the major supporter of the military junta, partly because, in the past, it believes that the Burmese regime can ensure the political stability inside Burma guaranteeing the continued economic benefits for China.
However, after the ousting of Prime Miniser Khin Nyunt from power in 2004 and that of the increasing political instabilities proven by series of riots and disturbances inside Burma over the years, China is fully convinced the Burmese regime’s inability to maintain and provide the political stability which caused China to question and re-examine their working relations with the military regime in consideration of China’s long-term economic prosperity and political stability.
In the past, driven by its own self-interests in the short-term economic gains and benefits, China not only lends its full supports to the Burmese military regime, China also defends the regime in the international forums under the pretext of non-interventionist principle in other country’s internal affairs, hiding behind the wall of sovereignty.
Together with Russia , the veto-wielding China once already blocked the draft resolution calling on the United Nations Security Council to intervene in Burma ‘s affairs to cease the escalating and rampant human rights abuses committed by the Burmese military regime, and help solve the political crises of Burma last January, 2007.
Located between the two most populous countries, China and India , projected to be the super powers in 2030 /2040, Burma has been under the military dictatorships since 1962.
Salai Za Ceu Lian
1st September, 2007