Back to BADA
Why is China responsible for continued dictatorship,
prolong suffering and the repeated bloodshed in Burma!
Why China: To support its growing Economy,
China has been exploiting Burma's natural resources cheaply by strongly pleasing
the corrupted and incompetent dictators; China is also largest arm supplier,
border trader and investor; China's support effectively water down the US and
western sanctions. China refuse to condemn the recent killing; blocking stronger
sanctions by UNSC; refuse to ask for the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the
release of all political prisoners; has vetoed a Burma Resolution at the UNSC in
January. China is also using Burma as its door to Indian Ocean as part of its so
called "string of pearls" strategy that aims to project Chinese power overseas
and protect China's energy security at home.
1. Burma China Relations Paper (download
BEIJING 2008, CHINA'S OLYMPIAN HUMAN
Chinese dilemma over Burma protests
4.UNSC asks India to use influence on
Saturday, October 06, 2007 06:35 [IST]
China's crucial role in Burma
6. Myanmar and the
world, Destructive engagement (http://www.economist.com/world/asia/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9868034)
7. China, Africa and Oil (http://www.cfr.org/publication/9557/)
CHINA'S OLYMPIAN HUMAN RIGHTS CHALLENGES
Letter to President Hu
Jintao on Burma
By Human Right Watch's Executive Director Ken
October 17, 2007
President Hu Jintao
People’s Republic of China
Zhongnanhai, Xichengqu, Beijing City
People’s Republic of China
Dear President Hu:
August 8, 2008, more than a billion people around the globe will
celebrate the opening of the Olympic Games in Beijing. Millions
of Burmese, however, are unlikely to focus that day on the
Olympic theme of “One World, One Dream,” but rather will observe
the 20th anniversary of the 1988 pro-democracy protests in
Burma, during which an estimated 3,000 people were killed.
We realize that your government chose to open the Beijing
Olympics on 08-08-08 for symbolic reasons, but recent events in
Burma mean that the spotlight on that date will also be on the
continued suffering of the Burmese people. Your government has
resisted efforts to link the Olympics with human rights concerns
in China and in China’s relations with abusive governments. Yet
your government’s reluctance to condemn the latest acts of
brutality by the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC),
its ongoing—and crucial—support to the SPDC, and the coincidence
of the two events only raises the stakes for China to act
swiftly and constructively to help protect the people of Burma
from further human rights abuses.
In August and September peaceful protests were staged throughout
several cities in Burma calling for improved living standards,
respect for basic rights, and the conduct of a genuine political
dialogue with opposition politicians, many of whom remain in
prison. The response by the SPDC security forces was brutal by
any measure: riot police and army units used baton charges, tear
gas, and shot directly at Buddhist monks and civilians engaged
in peaceful protests. It appears likely that the death toll is
considerably larger than the official figure of 10, and injuries
were also likely to be very high. Thousands of participants in
the demonstrations were arrested; many, including monks, were
reportedly tortured in custody. Hundreds of people remain
unaccounted for. SPDC security forces continue to conduct
nighttime arrests and intimidation of people suspected of
involvement in the demonstrations. The brutal crackdown has only
worsened the poor state of the economy and increased already
widespread dissatisfaction with military control of the country.
In response to the crisis, the Association of South East Asian
Nations (ASEAN), which rarely speaks out on human rights
concerns, has publicly expressed its “revulsion” in response to
Burma’s assaults on peaceful demonstrations. UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has described the SPDC’s actions
as “abhorrent and unacceptable.” The Security Council, with your
government’s consent, has in a presidential statement rightly
called for the release of political prisoners and the lifting of
restrictions on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
It is, however, regrettable that we have not heard directly from
Beijing the strong words of condemnation such as those from
ASEAN and from the secretary-general. Similar public criticism
from China would have an immediate effect in Burma. Merely
calling for peaceful resolution of the crisis without
referencing the SPDC’s abuses, suggests that China does not see
it as important that the lethal policies of the government
As one of Burma’s neighbors, its largest investors, and its main
suppliers of weaponry, China indisputably wields the power to
positively influence this situation. We have noted the Chinese
government’s rhetoric expressing mild concern, yet without
concrete action this changes little inside Burma.
Given your government’s relationship with the Burmese
government, as a member of the UN Security Council and Human
Rights Council, and as a self-described “responsible power,” we
believe China is able to bring about the dramatic improvement of
the dire human rights situation in Burma by taking the following
- Immediately place an embargo
on all weapons transfers from China to Burma and suspend all
military training, transport, assistance, and cooperation.
- Support or abstain from
vetoing UN Security Council resolutions calling for
sanctions or other collective action to address the crisis
in Burma. Constructively engage with other Security Council
members to design and adopt appropriate multilateral
sanctions on Burma. Sanctions should be pegged to the
government meeting specific human rights conditions. These
should include the release of all persons arbitrarily
detained for exercising their basic human rights to free
expression, association, and assembly, and an accurate
official accounting of the numbers, whereabouts, and
conditions of individuals killed, arrested, and detained by
the security forces.
- In the absence of Security
Council-imposed sanctions, China (along with other
countries) should act to impose targeted sanctions to
encourage the steps outlined above:
- Sanctions, including
financial sanctions, should be targeted at leading
officials, both military and civilian, who bear
responsibility for abuses, as well as others who may
assist in, or be complicit in, the evasion of sanctions
by those individuals. Those sanctioned should be
identified by means of a fair process, and the sanctions
should be subject to regular monitoring of both their
impact on human rights and whether the steps outlined
are being reached.
- Consistent with human
rights measures previously adopted or currently under
consideration by the European Union and United States,
China should also ban new investment and prohibit the
importation of select products from Burma.
- Prohibit business
partnerships with or payments to entities owned or
controlled by the Burmese military, and whose revenues
are largely used to finance military operations (as
opposed to social spending).
- Uphold the 1951 Refugee
Convention and customary international law and allow anyone
fleeing persecution in Burma to cross the border into China.
- Suspend involvement by
state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation and
Sinopec, both official Olympic partners, in the proposed
Burma-China oil and natural gas pipelines until the
conditions specified above in relation to multilateral
sanctions are met. As Human Rights Watch has previously
described, we are concerned that the proposed construction
of overland pipelines would exacerbate the serious human
rights situation in Burma. In light of recent events, Human
Rights Watch urged all companies to suspend activities
related to onshore pipeline projects in Burma, as we do not
believe it will be possible for them to carry out such
projects without becoming complicit in the abuse of human
- Instruct Chinese firms,
including stated-owned firms, with business ties to Burma to
publicly and fully disclose all payments made to the Burmese
military, directly or through the entities it controls.
- Continue to urge the SPDC to
engage in dialogue with its critics, and end its repression
of them. The Seven Step Road Map to Democracy, which is
merely a cover for continued military rule, must be scrapped
and replaced with a plan that has the genuine support of
Burma’s political parties and ethnic groups.
- Urge the SPDC to reconvene a
truly representative and participatory national convention
that operates through an open and transparent consultative
process that could lead to a new constitutional settlement
that genuinely reflects the views of all parties and leads
to the creation of a civilian government.
Should the Chinese government
take such steps, it is possible that on August 8, 2008—a date on
which your country will be the focus of unprecedented
international interest—it will likely be credited rather than
criticized for its role in Burma. It is not only right that
China should stand with the people of Burma against state
repression and abuse, it is in China’s self-interest to do so.
Human Rights Watch
CHINA’S SUPPORT BLOCKS INTERNATIONAL
DIPLOMACY AND KEEPS BURMA’S REGIME IN POWER
Enabling Mass Atrocities and Crimes Against Humanity
Below is publicly available information regarding Sino-Burmese
military, political, and
economic relations. This by no means represents the entirety of
China’s support of Burma’s
military regime, much of which is not publicly available.
CHINA IS ONE OF THE LARGEST ARMS SUPPLIERS TO THAN SHWE’S
BURMESE MILITARY REGIME.
Since 1989, the year after Burma’s military regime brutally
suppressed a mass people’s uprising
calling for democracy – China has provided Burma’s regime with
over US$2 billion worth of
weapons and military equipment1, some sold at below market
prices—arms shipments continue
to this day.
Tanks and armored personnel carriers
Coastal patrol ships
Small arms and light weapons
Logistical and transportation equipment2
China also has provided military advisors for training and
engineers for building projects
With Chinese arms and military equipment, Burma’s regime has
quadrupled the size of its forces
to 450,000 men, including with approximately 70,000 child
soldiers - more than any other
country in the world.3 The regime has carried out a scorched
earth campaign in Eastern Burma,
destroying and forcing the
abandonment of more than 3,000 villages over the past ten years.4 To
put this in context a more well-known crisis, this is twice as
many villages as have been
destroyed in Darfur. More than 1.5 million refugees have fled to
neighboring countries or are
hiding in the jungle struggling to survive.
THE COST OF CHINA’S POLITICAL PROTECTION
BURMA’S MILITARY REGIME WILL FORGO $8.4 BILLION FROM NATURAL
GAS EXPORTS TO KEEP CHINA’S INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL SUPPORT.
2007 - Than Shwe has agreed to sell Burma’s new found gas from
the Shwe gas fields, about 180
billion cubic metres of gas across 20 years to China for the
price of US$4.28 per million BTU.
India offered the regime US$4.76 per million BTU but Than Shwe
rejected India’s offer in favor
of China’s5 costing Burma US$2.35 billion in revenue.
It gets worse - the current market rate for natural gas is
around US$7.30 per million BTU and for
a long-term contract, such as this one, experts estimate the
regime could have negotiated for
US$6 per million BTU. Which in real terms means Burma is losing
out on US$8.4 billion in
potential natural gas revenues.
August 2007 – While Burma’s military regime sells Burma’s
natural gas to China at deeply
discounted rates, it suddenly and drastically quintupled the
price of compressed natural gas, and
doubled the price of oil and diesel in Burma, sending the people
of Burma, more than half of
whom live on less than a US$1 a day, spiraling further into
China is the only country with the ability to shield Burma’s
military junta from international
UNDERMINING MULTILATERAL UNITED NATIONS AND REGIONAL
EFFORTS: CHINA HAS CONSISTENTLY TAKEN A UNILATERAL APPROACH
September 2006 - China voted No to placing Burma’s crisis on the
UN Security Council’s
Agenda, but lost in a vote of 10-4-1.
January 2007 – China vetoed a peaceful UN Security Council
resolution – that had garnered
enough votes to pass - that would have strengthened the
Secretary General’s mandate to
resolving the crisis in Burma.
CHINA’S PRISONER: DAW AUNG SAN SUU KYI, THE WORLD’S ONLY
IMPRISONED NOBEL PEACE PRIZE RECIPIENT
China is one of the only countries in the world to refuse to
back the UN Secretary General’s call
for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners.
Southeast Asian senior statesmen Indonesian Ali Alatas,
Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed
Hamid, and Filippino Foreign Minister Alberto Romulo all
failed, and China did not endorse
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the
European Union (EU), the
United States, Japan, Australia, 14 United Nations Special
Rapportuers, One Dozen Nobel
Peace Prize recipients, and 59 former Presidents and Prime
Ministers from around the world
have called for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi.
The United Nations General Assembly calls for the release of
Aung San Suu Kyi, and the
UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that Aung San
Suu Kyi’s imprisonment
violates international law.
China has refused to support all of these countries,
leaders, and UN mechanisms by not
calling for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi. Instead,
China’s Foreign Minister says “The
Aung San Suu Kyi matter is Myanmar's internal affair.”
China’s refusal to stand with the rest of the world and call for
the end of Aung San Suu Kyi’s
unlawful detention not only ensured Than Shwe’s had political
cover for extending her house
arrest, it completely contradicted China’s own statement in
which it would support ASEAN’s
position on Burma. “China will, as always, support Asean to play
a leading role in addressing
the issue of Myanmar," Ambassador Wang Guangya said. Apparently
The only way to do business in Burma is to do business with the
military junta. The Heritage
Foundation in their 2007 Index of Economic Freedom ranked Burma
as the fifth most repressed
economy in the world (153 out of 157) behind only North Korea,
Libya, Cuba and Zimbabwe.6
INVESTMENT: CHINA IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST INVESTORS IN BURMA.
2006-2007 (April-February), China’s foreign direct investment
exceeded $281 million.7
Chinese companies, including whole state-owned enterprises have
more than 800 projects in
Burma with a contractual value exceeding US$ 2.1 billion.8
TRADE: CHINA PROVIDES US$ BILLIONS IN TRADE TO BURMA’S MILITARY
China’s trade with Burma doubled from 1999 to 2005 to US$1.2
China is Burma’s largest source of imports accounting for
more than 31% in 200610
Current figures estimate that China’s trade revenue with
Burma is now $1.28 billion
Burma has a closed and tightly controlled economy in which
only the top military leaders in the
ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) and their
cronies profit from trade and
LOANS: CHINA GIVES THAN SHWE’S REGIME US$ HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS
IN LOANS AND GRANTS.
January 2003 - China provided Burma with US$200 million in
June 2006 – China signed an agreement to loan Burma’s generals
$200 in buyers’ credit.12
NATURAL RESOURCES: CHINA IS STRIPPING BURMA OF ITS NATURAL
RESOURCES WITH RAMPANT FORCED LABOR, FORCED DISPLACEMENT,
AND SEVERE HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES.
BURMA’S MILITARY JUNTA TO MAKE BILLIONS OFF OF CHINA’S
INVESTMENTS IN EXTRACTING BURMA’S NATURAL RESOURCES.
China is involved in more than 62 hydro, oil & gas, and mining
projects in Burma.13 These
projects take place without consultation of local communities,
without regard for environmental
concerns and results in destruction of land and loss of
livelihood. These projects are
accompanied by increased militarization creating large scale
forced labor, forced relocation and
human rights abuses.
Oil & Natural Gas
In March 2007 - China’s PetroChina signed an MOU with SPDC for
the sale of 6.5 trillion cubic
feet of gas over the next 30 years to be transported through a
new pipeline that will be built
across Burma to deliver the gas to China’s Yunnan province for
an annual transit fee of $150
million for the next 30 years, earning the regime US$4.5
In April 2006 - China’s National Development and Reform
Commission approved an oil pipeline
project from Burma’s Akyab in Arakan State across Northern Burma
to Kunming in the Chinese
province of Yunnan, traversing 1,434 miles across Burma.
The construction of the Yadana pipeline in Burma over the
previous decade resulted in increased
militarization, enormous environment destruction, widespread
human rights abuses, forced labor,
forced relocation, and loss of livelihood.15 There is no
indication Burma’s junta would not
commit the same atrocities in the construction of additional
pipelines across Burma to China.
China is involved in approximately 40 hydropower projects in
As of March 2006 – Of the 11 major on-going hydro-power projects
in Burma. All contracts
have been awarded to Chinese companies.17
In June 2006 - China’s state-owned Sinohydro Corporation and the
Authority of Thailand (EGAT) agreed to build a US$1 billion
hydropower station on the
Salween River in Burma18, this is the first of 5 dams in this
partnership, that would destroy the
homes of hundreds of thousands of ethnic minorities.
China has been involved in at least 5 major mining projects in
Burma. The largest, the Tagaung
Taung nickel deposit represents an investment of US$600
1 Interview by Barron Young Smith of David Steinberg (16 Jan 06)
China’s Burma Connections
2 Rand Corporation (1999) China’s Arms Sales: Motivations and
3 Human Rights Watch (16 Oct 02) My Gun Was As Tall As Me: Child
Soldiers in Burma available at
4 Implementation of UN General Assembly Resolution 60/251, Human
Rights Council Report of Paulo
Sérgio Pinheiro, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human
rights in Myanmar, UN Doc.
A/HRC/4/14, 15 March 2006, p. 14, para 54.
5 The Times of India (9 Apr 07) Myanmar ditches India for China
in Gas Deal
6 Heritage Foundation (2007) Index of Economic Freedom available
7 Central Statistics Organization Ministry of National Planning
and Economic Development - Offical Myanmar
Government figures for Foreign Investment available at http://www.csostat.gov.mm/S25MA0202.asp
8 PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs General Administration of
Custom (2002) Trade Statistics
9 Time Asia (23 Jan 06) Burma – Going nowhere
10 EIU (2006) Myanmar Country Review
11 Altsean Burma (5 Oct 06) China Gambles on Burma at its Own
12 AP (10 Jun 06) China signs pact to privde Myanmar with US$200
13 Earthrights International (11 Sep 07) China in Burma: The
increasing investment of Chinese multinational
corporations in Burma’s hydropower, oil & gas, and mining
sectors available at
14 The Times of India (9 Apr 07) Myanmar ditches India for China
in Gas Deal
15 For more information, please see www.earthrights.org/burma
16 Earthrights International (11 Sep 07) China in Burma: The
increasing investment of Chinese multinational
corporations in Burma’s hydropower, oil & gas, and mining
sectors available at
17 Kudo, Toshihiro – (July 06) Institute of Developing
Economies, Discussion Paper No. 66, Myanmar’s Economic
Relations with China: Can China Support the Myanmar Economy?
18 AP(28 Jun 06) China, Thailand to Build US$1 Billion
Hydropower Plant in Burma
19 Earthrights International (11 Sep 07) China in Burma: The
increasing investment of Chinese multinational
corporations in Burma’s hydropower, oil & gas, and mining
sectors available at
Chinese dilemma over Burma
By Michael Bristow
BBC News, Beijing
China, which has become one of Burma's main supporters over recent years, has
remained largely silent about the current protests.
China has kept its distance from
the unfolding events in Burma
Beijing is traditionally reluctant to speak
publicly about the internal affairs of other countries.
But, despite this, there are signs that Chinese
politicians are anxious to help stabilise the political situation in Burma.
They perhaps do not want to tarnish China's
image ahead of next year's Beijing Olympics by appearing to support any military
crackdown in Burma.
Officially, China is playing down its ability to
influence events in Burma.
"China always adopts a policy of
non-interference," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu at a
regular press briefing.
It is in China's long-term business interests to make sure
its neighbour is stable
"As Myanmar's (Burma's) neighbour, China hopes
to see stability and economic development in Myanmar," she added.
"The stability of Myanmar serves the interest of
Myanmar itself and the interests of the international community."
But China's ties with the military junta ruling
Burma go deep, and include expanding trade links, the sale of military hardware
and diplomatic support.
"In the last decade or two, with the improving
economic situation in China and the increasing isolation of Burma, China has
become increasingly important to the regime," said a spokesman for the Asian
Human Rights Commission, based in Hong Kong.
The relationship between Burma and China is
mainly based on trade. Burma, which has very little industry itself, imports
manufactured goods from China.
"If you walk around the streets in Burma,
particularly in the north, the overwhelming majority of manufactured goods are
Chinese made," said the commission spokesman, who regularly visits Burma.
That trade is reflected in official Chinese
figures, which show that exports from China to Burma were up by 50% in the first
seven months of this year. They were worth $964m (£479m).
Beijing does not want to be
associated with any crackdown
Burma mainly exports raw materials, such as
timber and gems, to China.
According to research published a few days ago
by EarthRights International, 26 Chinese multinational firms were involved in 62
major projects in Burma over the last decade.
These include the construction of oil and gas
pipelines stretching 2,380km (1,479 miles) from Burma's Arakan coast to China's
The rights group, based in the United States and
South East Asia, says this is to help China import oil and gas from the Middle
East, Africa and South America.
Official Chinese figures say total imports from
Burma amounted to just $146m in the first seven months of this year.
But others doubt the accuracy of these figures.
Rights group Global Witness estimated timber exports to China alone were worth
$350m in 2005 - most of it illegally exported.
China also sells Burma military hardware,
according to the Asian Human Rights Commission.
And Beijing used its veto in the United Nations'
Security Council in January to block criticism of Burma's military junta.
But despite these deep links, China has shown
signs of promoting reform in Burma over recent months.
Earlier this month China urged
Burma to maintain stability
In June this year it hosted low-profile talks in
Beijing between representatives from the US and Burma.
And earlier this month, senior Chinese diplomat
Tang Jiaxuan had some advice for visiting Burmese Foreign Minister U Nyan Win.
"China whole-heartedly hopes that Myanmar
(Burma) will push forward a democracy process that is appropriate for the
country," he said, according to state-run Xinhua news agency.
Tang, who acts as a foreign policy adviser, said
China "hoped Myanmar would restore internal stability as soon as possible,
properly handle issues and actively promote national reconciliation".
China is perhaps wary of backing a regime that
might order a violent crackdown of protesters ahead of next year's Beijing
Beijing is extremely sensitive to criticism
about any of its foreign policies before the event is held. They do not want
anything to spoil the games.
Chinese officials have already tried to limit
criticism of Beijing's support for Sudan by backing a UN plan that aims to bring
peace to the African country's troubled Darfur region.
And, as the Asian Human Rights Commission
spokesman said, it is in China's long-term business interests to make sure its
neighbour is stable.
And, as the Asian Human Rights Commission
spokesman said, it is in China's long-term business interests to make sure its
neighbor is stable.
By CHARLES HUTZLER, Associated Press Writer
Tue Sep 25, 6:03 PM ET
BEIJING - China has gently urged Myanmar's
military rulers to ease the strife that has seen tens of thousands take to the
streets in protest, diplomats said Tuesday, even as Beijing said publicly it
would stick to a hands-off approach toward its neighbor.
China has quietly shifted gears, the diplomats
said, jettisoning its noninterventionist line for behind-the-scenes diplomacy. A
senior Chinese official asked junta envoys this month to reconcile with
opposition democratic forces. And China arranged a low-key meeting in Beijing
between Myanmar and State Department envoys to discuss the release of the
leading opposition figure.
For a country that has been Myanmar's staunchest
diplomatic protector, largest trading partner and a leading investor, the shift
is crucial. Asian and Western diplomats in Beijing and Southeast Asia said
China's influence in Myanmar is second to none and could be decisive in
restraining the junta from a violent confrontation with protesters.
"China has been working to convey the concerns
of the international community to the Burmese government," a Western diplomat in
Beijing said on condition of anonymity, citing policy. "But it could definitely
do more to apply pressure."
Diplomats and experts cautioned that China's
communist leaders may not be willing to push harder. Myanmar's junta has
resisted Western economic sanctions and appeals from Southeast Asian neighbors
and the United Nations. China has deftly filled the diplomatic and economic
vacuum, eyeing Myanmar as a strategic path to the Indian Ocean, investing in its
teak forests, gas and mineral fields and picking up an ally in the junta.
Myanmar has about 19 trillion cubic feet of
proven natural gas reserves, only about 0.3 percent of the world's total
reserves, according to BP's Statistical Review of World Energy at the end of
2006. Although Myanmar doesn't currently export gas to China, its supply could
potentially help feed a rapidly growing Chinese economy hungry for energy.
State-run China National Offshore Oil Corp. has
taken a stake in a Bay of Bengal gas field in Myanmar, while China National
Petroleum Corp. is reportedly looking at building a pipeline network.
Myanmar "was a vassal state of China's for
centuries, and it's fast reverting to that status," said Sean Turnell, an
economist and expert on the country at Australia's Macquarie University.
Beijing protected Myanmar, also known as Burma,
from scrutiny and sanction in the U.N. Security Council earlier this year. On
Tuesday, two officials — one from the Communist Party's international affairs
office, the other from the Foreign Ministry — said China would stay out of
But Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu
tempered the pledge with an appeal for calm. "We hope Myanmar and its people
will take proper actions to resolve the issue," Jiang told reporters in Beijing.
China's political and economic interests in
Myanmar are spurring it to act, diplomats and experts said. With an Olympics in
Beijing next year already bringing China heightened scrutiny, Chinese leaders
are likely loath to be associated with another repressive, unpopular regime.
Criticism from foreign governments and
international activist groups already have caused Beijing to pare back lending
to Zimbabwe and put pressure on Sudan to accept a U.N. peacekeeping force for
Democracy campaigners in Myanmar took note of
the success of the Darfur activists, who warned the games would be tarnished as
the "Genocide Olympics" if Beijing did not act, said Phelim Kyne, a Hong
Kong-based researcher with Human Rights Watch.
"China has made some significant concessions
recently on its links to Sudan, but it hasn't gone that far on its links with
Burma," said Kyne. "If things heat up on the border, that's not going to look
good for China in the lead up to the Olympics at all."
Beijing's dual approach — saying one thing in
public while waging quiet diplomacy — has also characterized its policy shifts
on Sudan and in persuading North Korea to join disarmament negotiations, the
In June, Beijing hosted two days of talks
between junta envoys and U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Eric John. The
State Department and U.S. Embassy declined to disclose details. Diplomats from
other Western embassies said among the topics was relaxing house arrest for
Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Myanmar's democratic
As protests against the junta began gathering
momentum, the Chinese government's senior diplomat told visiting Myanmar leaders
to seek a peaceful resolution.
"China, as a friendly neighbor of Myanmar,
sincerely hoped Myanmar would restore internal stability as soon as possible,
properly handle issues and actively promote national reconciliation," China's
official Xinhua News Agency paraphrased State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan as telling
junta leader Gen. Than Shwe and Foreign Affairs Minister U Nyan Win.
In May, Beijing telegraphed its frustration with
Myanmar's rulers. The Foreign Ministry briefly posted on its Web site a critical
account of the junta's decision to move the capital from Yangon to Naypyidaw, a
remote site with a shoddy airport and no cell phone service.
China has a sizable presence in Myanmar,
constructing dams and laying a road that is supposed to stretch from the Chinese
border across Myanmar to its shore.
China became Myanmar's No. 1 trading partner in
2005, with trade heavily lopsided in China's favor topping $1.7 billion,
according to Turnell. China's Commerce Ministry says the value rose 20 percent
last year and jumped nearly 40 percent in the first seven months this year
compared to the same period in 2006.
UNSC asks Burma's Neighbour to use influence on
Saturday, October 06, 2007 06:35
United Nations: The US and several other key members of the UN Security
Council have urged
India, China and ASEAN nations to use their influence on
the neighbouring Myanmar to start an all-inclusive reconciliation process
which could lead to a democratic set up replacing the 45-year old military
By Jonathan Marcus
But the 15-member Council itself was deadlocked when it met on Friday,
with the US and Britain pressing for sending a strong message to back the
efforts of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and China asserting that the
pro-democracy protests and strong government action to deal with them were
an internal matter of Myanmar.
China clashed with the US and Britain when it rejected the suggestion
that the Council consider imposing sanction to back up the efforts being
made by the Secretary General and his envoy Ibrahim Gambari.
The situation in Myanmar posed no threat to the international peace and
security, Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya told the US and Britain during a
debate that followed a briefing by Gambari who has just returned after
meeting head of military junta General Than Shwe and detained pro-democracy
leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Pressure, Wang warned, would not help resolve the problem and might lead
to mistrust and confrontation.
The debate in the Council was held in the backdrop of Than offering talks
with Suu Kyi with several conditions attached which her party has virtually
Talking to reporters, Gambari said Suu Kyi is interested in a dialogue
and stressed that both sides have strong misgivings about each other.
China's crucial role in Burma crisis
Diplomatic correspondent, BBC News, New York
This year's session of the UN General
Assembly has been overshadowed by the worsening political crisis in Burma.
It figured prominently in the UN Secretary
General Ban Ki-moon's opening speech.
US President George Bush announced a
tightening of US economic sanctions and a ministerial meeting involving the
Americans and the 27 European Union countries called for UN Security Council
An informal gathering of the Security Council
It heard a briefing on the crisis from Ban Ki-moon's
special representative or envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, just before he left for
the region, urgently despatched by the secretary general, in the hope that
he can get into Burma and speak to all sides.
But apart from registering concern and
displeasure it is hard to see what practical impact these steps will have.
The US and the EU have long imposed a variety
of sanctions against Burma's military regime but, paradoxically, this means
that they have relatively few levers to pull to influence Rangoon.
The countries that matter more to Burma are
India and Russia; both of whom have trading relations with the military
Russia even plans to sell Burma a nuclear
But it is Burma's biggest neighbour, China,
that plays the most crucial role, and as a permanent member of the UN
Security Council it can help to limit the relative isolation that the
Rangoon regime faces.
Both China and Russia, for that matter, vetoed a
UN Security Council resolution last January that was critical of Burma's
China has key strategic interests in the
stability of Burma and accordingly strong ties with Rangoon.
This has prompted the Indian government to
seek stronger ties of its own with Burma's military regime in order to
counter-balance China's growing influence.
It is Burma's energy resources - oil and
off-shore gas fields - that make it such an attractive partner for Russian,
Chinese, Indian and even South Korean firms.
The scramble for Burma's energy resources
make it almost impossible to isolate the regime.
Indeed, over time, as US and European ties to
Burma have declined, those of China, Russia and India have increased.
China, then, is very much the key player; but
Beijing faces conflicting pressures.
It has to match its energy and strategic
interests - access to the Indian Ocean for example - with its desire for
stability and its concern for its own reputation abroad, especially with the
Beijing Olympics fast approaching.
Wednesday's informal Security Council meeting
served in part to gauge the Beijing government's current position.
China's UN ambassador, Wang Guangya,
reaffirmed China's predictable position that this crisis was not a threat to
international peace and that sanctions would not be helpful.
Formal action is one thing. But might China's
concern with regional stability encourage Beijing to whisper some tough
words in the Burmese leadership's ear?
That is clearly what Western diplomats are
In the short-term, sanctions may not have a
great impact on Burma's rulers.
But efforts are underway to impress upon them
that there could be long-term consequences if the crisis spirals out of
The British ambassador to the UN, John Sawers,
echoing a comment from the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, issued a
blunt warning to Burma's generals, noting, as he put it, that "the age of
impunity is dead".
This is an explicit threat to the country's
military rulers that they will ultimately be held accountable for their
China, Africa, and Oil
Updated: January 26, 2007
As global demand for energy continues to rise,
major players like the United States, European Union (EU), and Japan are
facing a new competitor in the race to secure long-term energy supplies:
China. With its 2006 GDP growth hitting 10.7 percent, China is intent on
getting the resources needed to sustain its soaring economy, and is taking
its quest to lock down sources of oil and other necessary raw materials
across the globe. With the Middle East mired in long-term instability, China
has turned toward another major oil producing region whose risks and
challenges have caused it to be overlooked by much of the rest of the world:
How extensive are China's oil interests in Africa?
China's voracious demand for energy to feed its
booming economy has led it to seek oil supplies from African countries
including Sudan, Chad, Nigeria, Angola, Algeria, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea,
and the Republic of Congo. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says
China accounted for 40 percent of total growth in global demand for oil in
the last four years; in 2003, it surpassed Japan as the world's
second-largest oil consumer, after the United States. In the first ten
months of 2005, Chinese official sources say, Chinese companies invested a
total of $175 million in African countries, primarily on oil exploration
projects and infrastructure. On January 9, state-owned Chinese energy
company CNOOC Ltd. announced it would buy a 45 percent stake in an offshore
oil field in Nigeria for $2.27 billion. China already has a significant
presence in many African countries, notably Sudan: China takes 64 percent of
Sudan's oil exports. "China is very deeply engaged in exploiting Africa's
oil resources," says
Economy, C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Studies at the
Council on Foreign Relations.
Which African countries are major oil producers?
- Nigeria. A member of
OPEC, Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa and the
eleventh-largest producer in the world. The country is a major oil
supplier to both Western Europe and the United States. The country
produces roughly 2.5 million barrels per day. Nigeria's proven oil
reserves are some 35.2 billion barrels, with plans by the Nigerian
government to expand to 40 billion barrels by 2010. Nigeria's economy is
heavily dependent on oil revenues, which account for nearly 80 percent
of government revenues. Despite its resource wealth, more than 70
percent of the population lives in poverty.
- Angola. Angola is the
second-largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa after Nigeria, with
oil production expected to reach 2 million barrels per day by 2008.
Angola also has major offshore sources of gas. The oil and gas
industries, both considered highly promising, have attracted over $20
billion in foreign direct investment since 2003. The Angolan economy is
highly dependent on its oil sector, which accounts for over 40 percent
of gross domestic product (GDP) and almost 90 percent of the
government's revenues. Angola accounted for
China’s oil imports from Africa in 2005, according to the World
- Sudan. Sudanese
production and export of light, sweet crude—the most easily refined, and
therefore most desirable, oil—have risen rapidly in the last few years,
with Sudan's Energy Ministry reporting production of some 500,000
barrels per day in 2005 despite internal upheaval, including the unrest
in the northern region of Darfur. Sudan has proven reserves of some 563
million barrels of oil, with the potential for far more in regions of
the country made inaccessible by conflict. Sudan is one of the world's
- Equatorial Guinea. This
tiny West African country's total proven oil reserves are estimated at
1.28 billion barrels. Oil production averaged 371,700 barrels per day in
2004, with oil accounting for nearly 90 percent of the country's total
exports in 2003. In October 2004, Equatorial Guinea told oil companies
operating in the country to cap production at 350,000 barrels per day,
for fear that ever-increasing oil revenues could destabilize the
- Gabon. Gabon has proven
oil reserves of roughly 2.5 billion barrels and produces about 230,000
barrels per day. This represents a decline of 37 percent since its peak
production levels in 1997. Exports of crude oil account for
approximately 60 percent of the government's budget and more than 40
percent of GDP.
- Republic of Congo. As
Sub-Saharan Africa’s fifth largest oil producer, the Republic of Congo
has 1.5 billion barrels in proven reserves and averaged 235,000 barrels
of crude oil production per day in 2004. In 2005, the oil industry
accounted for about 80 percent of the country’s revenues, and nearly 90
percent of its total export earnings.
What's driving China's presence in African oil markets?
China's booming economy, which has averaged 9
percent growth per year for the last two decades, requires massive levels of
natural resources to sustain its growth. Once the largest oil exporter in
Asia, China became a net importer of oil in 1993. By 2045, China is
projected to depend on imported oil for 45 percent of its energy needs. The
country needs to lock in supplies from relatively low-cost African or Middle
Eastern sources, experts say. But after the terrorist attacks of September
11, 2001, and the subsequent upheaval throughout the Middle East, China is
actively trying to diversify its supply lines away from Middle Eastern
crude. Experts say China has adopted an aid-for-oil strategy that has
resulted in increasing supplies of oil from African countries.
Experts say China has adopted an aid-for-oil
strategy that has resulted in increasing supplies of oil from African
How is China's foreign policy affected by its search for
The need to find resources is now the driving
component in Chinese foreign policy, David Zweig and Bi Jianhai write in an
Global Hunt for Energy," in the September/October 2005 issue of
Foreign Affairs. China's manufacturing sector has created enormous
demand for aluminum, copper, nickel, iron ore, and oil. Zweig and Bi write
that China "has been able to adapt its foreign policy to its domestic
development strategy" to an unprecedented level by encouraging
state-controlled companies to seek out exploration and supply contracts with
countries that produce oil, gas, and other resources. At the same time,
Beijing aggressively courts the governments of those countries with
diplomacy, trade deals, debt forgiveness, and aid packages. The strategy is
working: China has gained access to key resources around the world, from
gold in Bolivia and coal in the Philippines to copper in Chile and natural
gas in Australia. And, of course, oil from Africa. "The interesting thing to
me is that China's foreign policy has gotten sophisticated enough to
accomplish these goals," says
Kang, a visiting professor of East Asia Studies at Stanford University.
What characterizes the current relationship between China
and African countries?
Trade and economic activity. Sino-African trade
grew by 700 percent during the 1990s, and the 2000 China-Africa Forum in
Beijing set off a new era of trade cooperation and investment that is
producing notable results. From 2002 to 2003, trade between China and Africa
doubled to $18.5 billion, and then nearly doubled again in the first ten
months of 2005, jumping 39 percent to $32.17 billion. Most of the growth was
due to increased Chinese imports of oil from Sudan and other African
nations. China's foreign direct investment in Africa represented $900
million of the continent's $15 billion total in 2004. China is now the
continent's third most-important trading partner, behind the United States
and France, and ahead of Britain.
Experts say Chinese companies see Africa as
both an excellent market for their low-cost consumer goods, and a burgeoning
economic opportunity as more countries privatize their industries and open
their economies to foreign investment. Some textile manufacturers, for
example, are reportedly investing in African factories as a way to get
around U.S. and European quotas on Chinese textiles. "China is very
pragmatic about this," Kang says. "It's cutting deals with governments all
over the world."
How is China building its relationship with Africa?
With integrated packages of aid that lead to
business opportunities and market share for Chinese companies. "One of the
interesting things about doing business with China these days is that it's a
full-on supplier," Economy says. "They will come in and provide everything
that surrounds the development of the country." In Angola, which currently
exports 25 percent of its oil production to China, Beijing has secured a
major stake in future oil production with a $2 billion package of loans and
aid that includes funds for Chinese companies to build railroads, schools,
roads, hospitals, bridges, and offices; lay a fiber-optic network; and train
Angolan telecommunications workers. Economy says China is following a very
traditional path established by Europe, Japan, and the United States:
offering poor countries comprehensive and exploitative trade deals combined
with aid. For example, Japan after World War II paid $5 billion in war
reparations to South Korea, Taiwan, and China in the form of export credits
for Japanese goods and loans to be used for Japanese construction and other
services, Kang says.
Is there a link between oil production and arms sales?
Selling arms to African countries helps China
cement relationships with African leaders and helps offset the costs of
buying oil from them. China doesn't have the same human rights concerns as
the United States and European countries, experts say, so it will sell
military hardware and weapons to nearly anyone. Indeed, Beijing sees Africa
as a growth market for its military hardware. China's active exploration of
oil sources in Africa also leads to a need to ensure security around them,
experts say, which has led Beijing to send Chinese military trainers to help
their African counterparts. In return, China gains important African allies
in the United Nations—including Sudan, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria—for its
political goals, including preventing Taiwanese independence and diverting
attention from its own human rights record. A report, "China's
Arms Sales: Motivations and Implications" by Daniel Byman and Roger
Cliff for the RAND Corporation, says China's government exerts strong
central control over its arms exports and uses them as a foreign policy
Which African countries has China sold weapons to?
Between 1955 and 1977, Le Monde
reports, China sold $142 million worth of military equipment to Africa, and
the pace of sales has picked up significantly since then. The Congressional
Research Service reports China's arms sales to Africa made up 10 percent of
all conventional arms transfers to the continent between 1996 and 2003. They
- Sudan. China has sold
the Islamic government in Khartoum weapons and $100 million worth of
Shenyang fighter planes, including twelve supersonic F-7 jets, according
to the aerospace industry journal
Week and Space Technology. Experts say any military air
presence exercised by the government—including the helicopter gunships
reportedly used to terrorize civilians in Darfur—comes from China.
- Equatorial Guinea.
China has provided military training and Chinese specialists in heavy
military equipment to the leaders of the tiny West African nation, whose
oil reserves per capita approach and may exceed those of Saudi Arabia.
- Ethiopia and Eritrea.
China sold Ethiopia and its neighbor, Eritrea, an estimated $1 billion
worth of weapons before and during their border war from 1998 and 2000.
- Burundi. In 1995, a
Chinese ship carrying 152 tons of ammunition and light weapons meant for
the army of Burundi was refused permission to dock in Tanzania.
- Tanzania. According to
the Overseas Development Institute, China has delivered at least
thirteen covert shipments of weapons labeled as agricultural equipment
- Zimbabwe. The
autocratic government of Robert Mugabe ordered twelve FC-1 fighter jets
and 100 military vehicles from China in late 2004 in a deal worth $200
million, experts say. In May 2000, China reportedly swapped a shipment
of small arms for eight tons of Zimbabwean elephant ivory, Taylor writes
in his report. In addition, the U.S.-backed
Bureau says China provided a radio jamming device to Zimbabwe that
allows Mugabe's regime to block broadcasts of independent news sources
like Radio Africa from a military base outside Harare. China also
donated the blue tiles that decorate the roof of Mugabe's house.
What is China's policy toward human rights?
It is officially termed "non-interference in
domestic affairs." Chinese leaders say human rights are relative, and each
country should be allowed their own definition of them and timetable for
reaching them. "Let's not forget, this is an authoritarian state itself,"
Kang says. Economy says the Chinese perspective is that, unlike the United
States, they don't mix business with politics. In fact, China has argued
that attempts by foreign nations to discuss democracy and human rights
violate the rights of a sovereign country. Some experts say China's approach
is not significantly different from how any other country pursues its
interests. "The United States is highly selective about who we're moral
about," Kang says. "We support Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia—huge
human-rights violators—because we have other strategic interests. China's
not unique in cutting deals with bad governments and providing them arms."
"China's not unique in cutting deals with
bad governments and providing them arms," Kang says.
Has China had a positive impact on Africa?
Economy says many Africans are concerned over
how China operates in Africa, accusing Chinese companies of underbidding
local firms and not hiring Africans. International observers say the way
China does business—particularly its willingness to pay bribes and attach no
conditions to aid money—undermines local efforts to increase transparency
and good governance and international efforts at macroeconomic reform by
institutions like the
World Bank and the
International Monetary Fund.
On the other hand, Africa registered 5.2
percent economic growth in 2005, its highest level ever, in part because of
Chinese investment. African nations are enthusiastic that Chinese demand has
pushed up oil prices, says Princeton
Lyman, adjunct senior fellow for Africa studies at the Council on
Foreign Relations. The roads, bridges, and dams built by Chinese firms are
low cost, good quality, and completed in a fraction of the time such
projects usually take in Africa, experts say. The UN-supervised China-Africa
Business Council, based in China, encourages much-needed trade and
development with the continent. In 2004, China contributed 1,500
peacekeepers to UN missions across Africa, including Liberia. It has
undertaken or contributed to construction projects in Ethiopia, Tanzania,
Zambia, in addition to the countries named above. It has cancelled $10
billion in bilateral debt from African countries, sends doctors to treat
Africans across the continent, and hosts thousands of African workers and
students in Chinese universities and training centers. Critics say these
projects are meant to build goodwill for later investment opportunities or
stockpile international support for contentious political issues. Lyman says
China's interest in Africa has both positive and negative effects. "It's
good for the continent because it brings in a new actor who's willing to
invest, but it's bad for Africa if it turns countries away from the hard
work of political and economic reform," he says.
Overall, experts say, China's involvement
could likely jump-start change on the continent. "This is Africa's internal
problem," Kang says. "How do you build infrastructure without outside
investment? And how do you have a stable government with no resources?" The
roads and schools built by Chinese companies didn't exist before, so their
presence is an improvement. And the infrastructure improvements help African
countries secure other loans and investment opportunities, contributing to
an atmosphere of development that may one day change the continent -- a
welcome, even if unintended, result of China's quest to secure global energy