Supporting Burma and the role of China

I attended a rally today, held in St Mary’s Catholic Church at South Brisbane, in support of the growing global campaign for human rights, democracy and freedom for the people of Burma. There was a similar rally in Brisbane’s Queen’s Park last Friday which I also spoke at, and another yesterday which I didn’t manage to get to.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the fact that pictures and information about what is happening in Burma at the moment is getting out to the rest of the world is making a big difference in building global support. The courage of the people in Burma in resisting the ongoing oppression and the reign of terror should not be underestimated, and nor should the importance of ensuring access to open, accurate information. The internet is being used not just to provide information about what the people of Burma are being subjected to by the military dictatorship, but to help promote campaigns in support. It is interesting to see Facebook starting to be used for this purpose both in Australia and internationally.

This is a crucial moment, where momentum for change has been created through the courage of the people in Burma in standing up to oppression. That momentum must be maintained whilst the global attention is on Burma. People at community level must keep expressing ongoing solidarity and support for the people of Burma, but we also have to ask our governments to act too. This of course raises the question about what exactly is it that should be done at international level.

I don’t agree with everything Christopher Hitchens writes, but this article he wrote at Slate makes some good points, including asking the crucial question “How long can Southeast Asia bear the shame and misery of the Burmese junta? As long as the embrace of China persists.

He finishes with what I think has to be put forward as a real option – boycotting the Beijing Olympics.

After cataloguing the crucial support the Chinese government provides not just for the tyrants in Burma, but also their suppression in Tibet, their support for Iran and their arming of the bloodshed in Sudan (something all those refugees who are being smeared by the Australian government are trying to escape), Hitchens notes:

Meanwhile, everybody is getting ready for the lovely time they will have at the Beijing Olympics. If there could be a single demand that would fuse almost all the human rights demands of the contemporary world into one, it would be the call to boycott or cancel this disgusting celebration.

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23 Comments

  1. So true Andrew, so true! I’m really shocked at how so many commentators are banging on about the ‘positive influence’ of the CCP in ‘restraining’ the military junta! Can you imagine the talk in BEIJING: “Monks protesting for democracy. WOW! Let’s help them!” Pure Delusion! What more can I say?

  2. Every day I reload http://niknayman.blogspot.com/ to see what is and has been happening in Burma. I hope the protests in front of the Chinese embassy in San Francisco and elsewhere convince China’s government that people all over the world will abandon its forthcoming Olympics, just as it is now abandoning the people of Burma. What’s to celebrate in blood sport? http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/letters/article3030344.ece has the right idea: make it so.

  3. china can’t afford to do much in burma, it’s a pot and kettle situation.

    ozzies could press for a national boycott of beijing games, but that raises the question of why oz hasn’t boycotted the invaders of iraq.

    the sad reality is that ozzies are onlookers, cattle in their own country, much less elsewhere. their masters run the country for their own benefit, economic or political. our prime minister has more in common with hu jin tao than with an ozzie bus-driver.

    which is why i greet ‘protest’ activities with skepticism. ‘protest’ is easy, the politics of adolescence- strong opinions, little experience, and no responsibility, because no power.

  4. This morning Monday it now seems to be a reluctance by Malaysia as well. Hitchens to me may be quite correct in assessing the failures of mainland China,but, in that article are we to be believe Geo.W.Bush has spent many devoted hours like a Buddhist monk discussing Burma with whoever are his Burma experts!? Perhaps Kissinger is his expert!I think it would be more productive engaging China and Malaysia ,Singapore and others to be a little less cowardly,after all we,as Australians also do not want to see unneeeded deaths and instability and be part of a democratic excuse to allow the U.S.A another chance to get rid of it old weapons to refresh them with new ones.It may also be necessary for Parliamentarians to go to Burma,and ask them directly,why they cannot find a way to democracy,after all there isnt a willingness to serve criminality for the sake of democracy in wanting so. IT may also be useful,that these parliamentarians travel with ASEAN counterparts, and as fellow travellers with a real need,maybe able to convince the military it will have an important role in the future,because internationally,it is likely such matters as tsunamis, fires, earthquakes volcanic activity will require disciplined humans taking command orders..the world needs friendly Burmese military..encouraging it by understanding the weapon of offence is really training to defend more than their own role now,but humanity needs them.Whilst there are big rifts between China,Japan Nationalist China or non mainland China as Peoples Republic..all along they were as defenses,fighting natural disasters as well.The oil price rise in Burma was really an artificial crisis, they didnt need to let this happen,surely that as observation is not dependent on English.Lets not start to think the bullies of the U.S.A are more highly motivated than any other nations bullies and tyrants. Singapore for one bores me to tears more than the mainland Chinese ever could..Australians await for them to democratize.

  5. That’s just bizarre Benjamin. I have no idea what you’re talking about, and I suspect no one else (least of all, yourself) does either.

    But Al, what would you propose as a course of action? Protest may seem futile, but at the very least it allows you to personally express your beliefs to the world.

  6. Benjamin,
    If you were originally from China, I would encourage you to move back there since it’s already a democratic country.
    In case you do not know, Chinese tourists travelling out of China is required to place a deposit (I call this ransom)equivalent to about A$10,000/head. It will be confiscated if the tourists do not return to China. Is this democracy and freedom enjoyed by the Chinese people ?

  7. RE Muzzmonster,

    There will be a Global Human Rights Torch Relay coming to Australia in a few weeks time PLease visit this site for details
    http://www.humanrightstorch.org/

    Find out when it is coming to your city and join up. You can run with the torch or speak or help organise or entertain? All are welcome. We already have the D4B and their action group coming along to support this Torch relay and speak about the atrocities of communism and CCP influence in Burma.

  8. My Chinese teacher laughed when she saw reports that China may be trying to “influence” Burma. A boycott would make no difference either. We’d also have to boycott every future Olympics too.

  9. …to add 1 more point to Possum’s…Chinese tourists are also required to “surrender” their passports to their respective tour guides while visiting Australia (which is illegal) & other countries. Reason – to make it a hassle, potentially a failure, to those who wants to claim asylum/refugee statuses while on a tourist visa. That is so-called “Chinese democracy” = communism. communism is afraid of individual freedom simply because communism’s rule was never legitimate.
    To another comment, why would we want to boycott other Olympics? There’s only a few communist countries left & their getting fewer as time passes (I laugh with all my heart at that). Nazi Germany was granted the Olympics before they started war. Olympics may only boost the false “pretty” image of communist China.

  10. Anyone who thinks China is run by the tenets of Communism these days is in need of new information. While the Communist Party, as it calls itself, is still in charge, the advent of capitalism has rendered China very much a hybrid economy.

    I have heard from many English Language teachers in China that they believe that to travel to China for the Olympic games would be a ridiculous waste ofmoney. Sure, China is an interesting place, and much effort is being made to prepare, but they believe the infrastructure will not cope, and most non-residents of Beijing (Chinese and non_chinese alike) will not be allowed anywhere near Beijing, becuase they are aware at The Top that it will be chaos.

    I will boycott it for practical reasons as well, but will also declare to the Chinese Government that I won’t go because of human rights issues – can’t hurt. My concern about Burma, Tibet and the rest of the human rights issues around China would prevent me from visiting again a land that is full of wonderfully warm and friendly people.

  11. The world does not believe that China will become a responsible world power. Some people with ulterior motives like to blame the oppressed groups like Falun Gong exposing the the truth of what’s really happening inside China today.

    This is not caused by Falun Gong but by the evil always evil always has been and always will be evil communist regime. No country will ever be a rational responsible world power while it commits a genocide on people of faith or otherwise, See Hitler for reference!!
    There is one way to end of all this for Falun Gong for the people of China and for the welfare of the worlds peace and harmony.

    STOP THE PERSECUTION OF FALUN GONG NOW!!
    Then the people of the world will welcome trust and accept China and Chinese people.

  12. While I accept that the Chinese government persecutes Falun Gong, Jana, I think the problems there go much further than that.

    For a start, they also persecute a lot of others as well (the pro-democracy movement for example). There are immense problems with the governance of this huge country, let alone environmental problems.

    But this is a little beside the point of Andrew’s post. It seems that the world would like China to be more of a world leader, but since the country itself doesn’t subscribe to human rights, it’s hard to see much motivation for it to push them elsewhere.

  13. Re MuzzMonster;

    There is always a root to every problem and in order for that problem to solved the root must be pulled out completely otherwise it will keep re -growing.

    Everyone is concerned about the many problems China has. But if the root of this problem and that is the Falun Gong genocide is not solved then all else will be fragile.

    WE can overtly see the many problems the Ccp has with many groups and its foreign policy of not intervening inside other countries internal issues. They say this because they do not want to be exposed or criticised
    themselves for this dark evil secret of the genocide of Falun Gong.

    The whole Ccp machination from the top to the bottom is dealing with this suppression persecution and control of FAlun Gong in China so can you then begin to see the resources and all the power needed to keep this secret hidden not only from the Chinese people but the world ? How many people are involved from the propaganda departments thru to the cremations dept and everything else in between. Millions of people every county every dept of the Central and local committees?

    This is China’s dark and unspeakable secret.There is no possible way out for the Ccp. When the world finds out the truth there will be worldwide condemnation and everyone including most importantly the Chinese people will demand the Ccp’s fall.

    When the worlds good people leaders etc speak out about this demanding to know the truth what do you think will happen? The Chinese people will rise up and turn their backs on the CCp.

    27 million have already done so . http://ninecommentaries.com/
    http://en.epochtimes.com/211,95,,1.html

    This is the only way to solve all of Chinas problems! And to further a more harmonious and peaceful international society. There is no other way.

  14. I’m going to point out that Jana = Jana Shearer, a notorious Epoch Times journalist known for running a series of anti-China attacks across various blogs.
    http://falungongpolitics.blogspot.com/2007/04/epoch-times-reporters-gone-wild.html

    Your “Resign from CCP” campaign will go nowhere, as it’s a joke petition with no means of verification. The CCP only have 60 million members, and it’s laughable to think that close to half has already “resigned” when it’s not even done through proper channels. And the laughably bad “Nine Commentaries” essay has to references whatsoever, and sounds like an essay by a 12-year old. Sorry, if you want change in China, you’d probably have to come up with something better, and not this embarassment. Thanks to people like you, secular democracy activists with common sense has almost disappeared, and I’d hate to live in a China ruled by a Falun Gong theocracy, with a portrait of Li Hongzhi hanging on Tiananmen Square.

  15. Meanwhile, everybody is getting ready for the lovely time they will have at the Beijing Olympics. If there could be a single demand that would fuse almost all the human rights demands of the contemporary world into one, it would be the call to boycott or cancel this disgusting celebration.

    So it’s China’s fault that another country is ruled a military junta? If you’re going to attack China solely on its economic ties, it’s hypocritical that India, another nation with significant ties with Burma, is not mentioned. Why not cancel all cricket matches with India? Neither China nor India is actively supporting the Burmese military junta to kill its own people, and at worst they’re simply being ignorant and selfish to pursue their own profits. I hate people trying to use the Olympics to pursue their own political agenda. Why not boycott Sydney 2000 over the treatment of Aborigines and refugees, or Athens 2004 over Cyprus? Again, China is an easy target due to the West’s traditional ignorance and Sinophobia.

  16. Let’s face it. All of the world’s superpowers have the same evil intentions. They just go about it in different ways at different times.

    The United Nations needs to get in and fix it.

    When I see expensive Xmas lights burning up power everywhere I go, I feel a sense of disgust.

    Can’t you people PLEASE give the money to the disadvantaged and starving instead???

  17. We from Burma, need an outright expression or denial that the crisis of September has nothing to do with US government, or any other American organization or an individual, and that the monks were acting on their own withour any outside(US) instigation or support.
    The present military junta came to power in 1988, 20 years ago, and I can’t understand why, America, with its huge resources of analysts, researchers,and strongest intelligence services can not understand the actual or real underlying causes that makes the junta stay in power and nobody can move them.
    I think its time the international community and especially the US come to senses and try to realise what the real situation is , rather than the one portrayed by the media and dissidents.Unless, this happens, every effort made by the international community and US government makes the grassroot people suffer MORE, not less, and distance, not nearer, to democracy.
    United Kingdom and the British politicians have been known to be much smarter and foresighted than the American politicians. Now, look what the Brits are doing about Burma. NOTHING. Because they know the present military junta, whether bad or worse or repressive, is the best choice for Burma itself and the region.
    Another funny thing is almost all the politicians across the globe thinks China and/or India is influential on Burmese generals. What makes them think so? And also about the ASEAN community.
    One should consider the question of ” Who needs Who” in this region. Does Burmese generals need the support of Chinese or Indians or Russian leadership or those countries need the friendly cooperation of the Burmese generals – gas,access,trade, etc? Its the same with ASEAN. Does ASEAN needs Burma or Burma needs ASEAN? Why did ASEAN pursuaded the generals to join ASEAN in the first place?

  18. I don’t know too much about it, Tommy – but China and Russia are superpowers which could steamroller a place like Burma anytime they’re ready.

    Maybe India could give it a shot as well – either singly or co-operatively.

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