Henry C.K. Liu
hliu at mindspring.com
Fri Jan 27 00:53:53 MST 2006
Its curious why Bond's self righteous complaints are always focused on
countries that displease the US. Other anedotal incidents in many other
countries did not seem to upset Bond. He seems to have a nose for
singling geopolitical targets. For example, he is very silent about the
racist policies in the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans, despite
having been raise in the South.
US bull in the Myanmar China shop
By Boonthan Sakanond
CHIANG MAI, Thailand - As countries around the globe ponder the fallout
from the US-China spat over the collision of a US spy plane and a
Chinese fighter jet, none are more apprehensive than Southeast Asian
nations close to the Chinese mainland.
For many of them - such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam
- the reason to worry is obvious. They have territorial disputes with
China over islands in the South China Sea and are afraid that a
militarily assertive Beijing may leave no room for negotiations. For
others, the anxiety lies in the fact that a deterioration in relations
between the United States and China is bound to negatively affect their
economies already battered by the 1997 Asian economic crisis.
But while the world's attention is focused on tensions to the north and
east of China, some analysts in Thailand believe the real theater of any
military action in the near future could be to the southwest, on China's
weakest flank - Myanmar.
"Myanmar is the only true ally that China has in this entire region,
apart from North Korea, and any US move against the military
dictatorship in Yangon will be an easy way of telling Beijing off at its
own doorstep," says an Asian diplomat in Bangkok.
While over the past decade the United States has expended much public
rhetoric against the military dictatorship in Myanmar, it has never
considered any serious action. But this may be changing in the wake of
China's new identity as the biggest challenge to the United States'
status as the world's sole superpower.
The context for a US role already exists with both Thailand and Myanmar,
which in recent weeks have amassed troops along their borders and placed
their armies at the highest state of alert in many decades. In February,
shelling blamed on Myanmese troops in the northern Thai border town of
Mae Sai killed several civilians and prompted the closure of the
once-busy border checkpoint between the two countries.
While the Thais have accused the Myanmese government of actively
supporting the production of methamphetamines across the border and
flooding their country with drugs, the Myanmese allege that the Thai
military has been actively helping ethnic Shan rebels in their battle
for independence from Yangon. Despite some attempts at resolving their
conflicts through negotiations, both countries have currently moved
large numbers of troops and armaments to their common border areas in a
tense standoff ready to flare up at any time.
Adding fuel to speculation about a dramatic escalation of this otherwise
routine border war are a number of events that analysts claim show an
increased US presence on the Thai side of the border. Since March, the
northern Thai province of Chiang Rai, bordering Myanmar, has been host
to more than 40 American military trainers ostensibly there to acquaint
Thai infantry battalions with "anti-drug" warfare. While the US Drug
Enforcement Agency has always been quite active along the Thai-Myanmar
border that forms part of the notorious Golden Triangle - a traditional
area of production of much of the world's heroin - this is the time
first US aid to Thailand for combatting drugs has taken a purely
Next month, the number of US troops in the area is expected to rise
drastically when, from May 15-29, 5,000 US troops will join nearly 6,000
Thai and other regional troops for a simulated drug interdiction action.
The event is part of the annual joint Thai-US military exercise
code-named "Cobra Gold". But because it comes at a time of heightened
tensions on the Thai-Myanmar border, the location of the exercise is
clearly meant to send a message to the generals in Yangon.
Apart from the worsening of US-China relations, the possibility of the
US playing a more aggressive role in relation to Myanmar has increased
considerably because of a confluence of several other factors.
The George W Bush administration in Washington, for example, is seen
worldwide as being far more hawkish than its predecessor and willing to
push the envelope beyond the norms of usual diplomacy. If it can pull
off a major overturn in Myanmar's political establishment, the United
States would re-establish its diminishing military role in Asia and
occupy a strategic position in Myanmar as part of its long-term policy
of "encircling" China.
"Upsetting the reigning order in Myanmar - even if it takes some muscle
- would be an easy way of threatening China at its doorstep without
risking a major confrontation," says a Thai defense analyst based in
Since the crushing of the Myanmese pro-democracy movement in the late
1980s, the military regime in Yangon has moved closer to China. Beijing
has supplied it with military and material help, but it is doubtful if
it would risk much more to defend Myanmar against a concerted US effort
to topple the regime.
Within Thailand itself, there is a strange nexus developing between the
Thai military - deprived of any political role because of changed
political realities for nearly a decade - and clueless
businessmen-turned-politicians trying to steer an economy now in a deep
mess. With the flaring up of tensions along the Thai-Myanmar border, the
Thai military senses a way of getting back onto the center stage of
national attention. For the politicians, an anti-Myanmar campaign is an
easy way of diverting attention from their own domestic failures on the
Furthermore, within Myanmar itself there is an internecine struggle
under way between "hardliners" led by General Maung Aye and the
"moderates" under Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt, who is also the
Secretary Number One of the ruling State Peace and Democracy Council
(SPDC). Any strong external pressure on the regime, which is possible
only militarily, could even lead to a split in its top rungs and bring
down the dictatorship more easily.
While a section of Myanmese pro-democracy groups are strongly averse to
any foreign intervention in Myanmar to "restore democracy", they admit
that if the ball is set rolling by Thailand and the United States, there
will be many in their own ranks who will join in happily. "Though our
own movement is non-violent, there will be few voices opposing any
attempts to overthrow the Myanmese dictatorship by force," admits a
senior member of the Myanmese opposition in exile.
The justification for international military intervention, he says, has
existed for over a decade, as has the case against the Myanmese
military, responsible for the deaths and displacement of thousands of
Myanmese and other ethnic minority dissidents. In many ways, he points
out, there is a much stronger case against the Myanmese regime than the
one the North Atlantic Treaty Organization had for military action
against the former Yugoslav regime of Slobodan Milosevic over its
alleged atrocities in Kosovo.
Myanmar has a history of using outside help to overthrow domestic
dictatorships. Leaders of the Myanmese independence movement, led by
General Aung San in the 1930s, used Japanese help to drive out the
British colonialists. When the tide turned in favor of the Allies in
World War II, they invited the British back to oust the Japanese army.
However, any outside intervention in Myanmar will not be easy due to the
complicated web of relations the military junta has woven with the
country's ethnic minority groups, many of whom have signed ceasefire
agreements with the government despite fighting for independence for
years. Any international effort to "liberate" Myanmar from dictatorship
would become bogged down in problems related to renewed demands that
might come from minority groups for independence. This is an issue still
controversial within Myanmese pro-democracy groups, many of whom support
autonomy but not outright secession.
A lot, of course, depends finally on how US-China relations pan out in
the coming months. If they kiss and patch things up, the United States
is likely to back off from any confrontation on the Myanmar front, but
if tensions escalate the chances of a US-led intervention could be very
much in the cards.
(Inter Press Service)
As to the different factions in the Myanmar Government, China has not
involved itself in their internal conflicts, while giving them equal
treatment without discrimination and warm reception in the bilateral
exchanges between the two countries as well as welcoming and supporting
their various proposals conducive to the promotion of China-Myanmar
After a disturbance occurred in Myanmar in August 1988, Western
countries, actively supporting the opposition parties in Myanmar,
interfered flagrantly in its internal affairs and added fuel to the
flames of these disturbances. The Chinese Government adhered to its
principle of non-interference in Myanmar’s internal affairs and adopted
a persistent policy of non-interference, non-involvement and keeping
aloof with regard to the disturbances in Myanmar. The spokesman for the
Chinese Foreign Ministry issued only a short comment on September 8,
1988 when the situation in Myanmar deteriorated. He said that it is
hoped that the problem could be solved in an appropriate way at an early
date so that the country could maintain peace and stability, develop the
economy and improve its people’s livelihood.
After the Myanmar army took over the regime in September 1988, China, in
conformity with the principle of non-interference in Myanmar’s internal
affairs, started friendly contacts and exchanges with Myanmar’s military
government. Traditional friendly relations between the two countries
were restored and developed. Leaders of both countries had an exchange
of visits and trade, and economic cooperation and cultural exchanges
In recent years, China, as a friendly neighbor of Myanmar, took an
active part in the “Bangkok Process” after its initiation.
Vice Premier Wu Yi, during her visit to Myanmar, said in her talks with
Myanmar Prime Minister Khin Nyunt on March 24, 2004, that China
supported Myanmar’s efforts for safeguarding state sovereignty and
promoting stability and development. On March 25, she said during her
meeting with Chairman Than Shwe of the Myanmar State Peace and
Development Council that China hoped Myanmar would be able to achieve
political stability, national harmony and economic development. She said
that Myanmar’s affairs should be settled by the Myanmar Government and
people themselves and the international community should offer positive
assistance on the basis of respect for the state sovereignty of Myanmar.
China-Myanmar relations have proved that the Five Principles of Peaceful
Coexistence have not only led to a long-term peaceful coexistence of the
two countries, but also played a major role in promoting relations
between the two countries. Premier Zhou Enlai visited Myanmar nine
times, while Prime Minister U Nu visited China six times. General Ne Win
visited China as many as 12 times. Economic and cultural exchanges
between the two countries have also been continuously developed. The
China-Myanmar boundary has been a boundary of peace and friendship, with
mutual visits by border residents to their relatives across the border
and very prosperous border trade. With border tourism gradually
developing, the two countries have also strengthened their cooperation
in suppressing drug trafficking.
Patrick Bond wrote:
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Nestor Gorojovsky"
> <nestorgoro at fibertel.com.ar>
> As for me, I am most interested in knowing what is it that goes on in
> Myanmar (not Burma).
> PB: And why don't you make your an effort, comrade Nestor. There's
> lots to marvel at on the Irrawaddy newspaper website and various other
> solidarity URLs. I'm offline as I write so can't point you, but I know
> you can find your way.
> But let's start with 8/8/88, as seminal a date for the Burmese as June
> 16 1976 is for us in South Africa. My brother-in-law, who was doing
> his MD internship at the main Rangoon hospital, was nearly killed - as
> thousands of protesters were - when, like your Argentine generals or
> Pinochet, the Myanmar junta let loose its bullets on the masses. Even
> treating the wounded was considered such a threat that the army fired
> indiscriminately on healthworkers that day.
> Then in 1990 the National League for Democracy won 80% of the vote in
> an election but the Myanmar junta refused to recognise it. Is that
> Western propaganda, a figment of Aung San Suu Kyi's hyperactive
> imagination? Was the 2004 massacre of her followers, when she was
> touring the northern part of the country, another myth? None of this
> made it across your radar screen?
> The Burmese liberation movement has lots of problems, among which your
> lack of awareness - especially given the close parallels to your *own*
> experience, Nestor - is but a tiny reflection of the larger tragedy.
> Today morons like Bono capture the limelight for Red credit card
> gimmicks, while durable struggles like those of the Burmese masses are
> lost after the Nobel Prize camera flashes subside.
> But I expect much from you, Nestor. Where is your South-South
> instinct? In terms of oppressing its own people, the Myanmar junta is
> the most vicious ruling crew on earth today.
> My mother was born in colonial Burma so I'm particularly interested.
> We have a small and strong SA-Burma solidarity committee, which
> remains mortified that the only government which gave diplomatic
> recognition to the fascist Myanmar generals was South Africa, in May
> 1994. Pretoria has played a constructive engagement game with a
> variety of nasty regimes (in part to sell arms), even giving Suharto
> the country's highest-ranking medal in December 1997, a couple of
> months before the masses sent him packing. Which leads to this bit of
> NG: In the same way, I would not accept the talk about Venezuelan
> imperialsm or --South African imperialism! Even "sub"-imperialism. On
> this, too, Patrick and yours truly differ and there is no means to put
> us in agreement.
> PB: Nestor, who has *ever* said anything about Vz imperialism? What
> kind of stupid distraction is that? As for SA subimperialism, ok dear
> comrade, just put that lovely head of yours deep into the sand then,
> you are *alone* on the left now not to express concern about the
> compradors running SA - and India and Brazil after the WTO sell-out -
> undermining struggles against global capital. I am especially annoyed
> because yesterday in New York, the SA government filed a friend of the
> court brief against the Jubilee and Khulumani movements, who are
> struggling for reparations against Barclays Bank. A couple of hours
> ago I found myself debating - for a Dartmouth seminar - a jerk from
> Davos who works at the highest level at Barclays. Pretoria so
> desperately wants Barclays to screw SA bank customers that it has
> specifically attacked Jubilee SA for their critique of Barclay's
> apartheid profits.
> If you'd like to respond to evidence along these lines I'll be sending
> you offlist some of the facts of SA subimperialism. I remember so
> fondly our lovely beef-heavy lunch in Buenos Aires four months ago,
> Nestor, and cringe at how I failed to dissuade you from an exhausted
> Third Worldist nationalism that is *such* an anachronism in these
> Please find our disclaimer at http://www.ukzn.ac.za/disclaimer
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