The Interests of the People of Burma Must Prevail Over Economic Self-Interest of China
2 October 2007 5:20 am

Contrary to the Chinese government’s stance of non-interference, this open letter states that China is already interfering in Burma’s internal affairs through its economic relations with Burma’s generals. These economic relations have enabled the generals to build up an army capable of suppressing the will of the 53 million people of Burma. The letter therefore calls upon China to place economic self interest to one side, and to adjust its policies to help enable the Burmese people to fulfill their desire for change.

Mr. Yang Jiechi,
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Government of the People's Republic of China,
No. 2, Chaoyangmen Nandajie,
Chaoyang District,
Beijing, 100701

Open Letter

2 October 2007

Your Excellency,

You will be well aware of the brutal manner in which the State Peace
and Development Council (SPDC) in Myanmar has recently responded to
demonstrators who have been doing no more than peacefully expressing
their desire for a government which serves their needs and interests.
We pay tribute to the courage and determination of the peoples of
Myanmar, and stand alongside them as they struggle to bring about a
better future.

We feel that China has a particularly important role to play in
ensuring that the events in Myanmar turn out in favour of the interests
of the people rather than the interests of a small group of military
generals.

In this regard, we note with concern China’s lack of action based on
the argument that states should not interfere in the internal affairs
of other sovereign nation states. If this argument enables 15 military
men to rule a country in their interests, while violating the human
rights of the 53 million people who make up the country, then this is
surely a difficult position to defend.

Furthermore, it is quite clear that China is already interfering in the
internal affairs of Myanmar. In order for the military generals to be
able to build up an army capable of systematically oppressing the will
of the people of Myanmar for nearly 50 years requires access to immense
resources. China’s economic relations with Myanmar have played a
significant part in providing the generals with such resources, thus
determining the fate of the peoples’ desire for change.

We recognise that China has significant economic interests within
Myanmar, particularly in terms of access to oil and gas. However, we
urge China to place these considerations of self-interest to one side,
and instead focus on the interests of the Myanmar people.

The protests in Myanmar simply represent the desire of the people to
change things for the better. There is an abundance of reliable
evidence which shows how the military government engages in widespread
and systematic human rights violations, including summary executions,
forced labour practices, forced displacement, sexual violence and the
recruitment of child soldiers. The military’s campaigns in ethnic
areas, involving the targeting of civilians, have displaced over a
million people. FORUM-ASIA therefore urges China to acknowledge the
role it has to play in determining the fate of the people of Myanmar
and their struggle for change.

In this regard, FORUM-ASIA would urge China to take the following steps:

  1. To make clear to the generals in Myanmar that economic relations
    will be threatened unless they engage in peaceful negotiations with
    demonstrators and pro-democracy leaders and initiate a process of
    genuine reform based on these negotiations;
  2. To stop the supply of all arms and other equipment and assistance
    from China which could be used by the military to suppress peaceful
    demonstrations in Myanmar;
  3. As one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, to
    allow the body to proceed with concrete steps to restore peace and
    stability in the region of Southeast Asia, including the imposition of
    an arms embargo on Myanmar;
  4. As a member of the Human Rights Council, to support a resolution
    which allows for a high level fact finding mission of the UN High
    Commissioner for Human Rights and independent experts to be sent to
    Myanmar, to make concrete recommendations based on the findings of this
    mission, and to set up a monitoring team to supervise the
    implementation of these recommendations.

Yours sincerely

Anselmo Lee

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Executive Director
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
Tel : +66-81-868-9178 (mobile) / Fax : +66 (0)2 391 8764
anselmo@forum-asia.org

Cc:
-Ambassador Li Jinjun, Chinese Embassy in Myanmar, No.1 Pyidaungsu Yeiktha Road, Yangon, Union Of Myanmar, fax: +95-1-227019
-Permanent Mission of the People's Republic of China to the United Nations in New York
-Permanent Mission of the People's Republic of China to the United Nations in Geneva