CHINA SLAMS SANCTIONS AGAINST BURMA


2003-08-21
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Beijing won't agree to foreign interference in country's internal affairs

China has said that it won't agree to "foreign interference" in Burmese affairs and that it opposes sanctions against the military regime there, RFA reports.

Former foreign minister and State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan told a visiting Burmese military official that the domestic situation in Burma was Rangoon's internal affair and that China would oppose attempts to isolate the regime in the wake of the continued detention of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

"The [Burmese] government and people are intelligent and capable enough to handle to relevant issues," Tang said in a meeting with Maung Aye, the commander-in-chief of Burma's army.

The international community has responded to the arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi and several key activists after a clash in May between government-hired gangs and supporters of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party. Washington and the European Union have imposed stiffer sanctions against the country since the incident, while Japan has withdrawn new aid.

The U.N. envoy to Burma, Razali Ismail, had urged China to take a bigger role in resolving the crisis. But China's response was unlikely to favor the NLD, as it lives in fear of foreign interference in its own domestic affairs.

In an interview from Rangoon with RFA's Burmese service, former Burmese ambassador to China U Chan Tun said China appears to be sending different messages to Burma and to the wider world--and he noted that the Chinese envoy at recent ministerial talks in Bali agreed to the official conference statement calling for Aung San Suu Kyi's immediate release.

"Should the Burma issue be taken up at the Security Council, China would likely take a neutral' stance," he said.

China's Communist Party has consistently blocked movements within its own ranks towards political change out of fear of losing its hold on power. Some of those who see political reform as inevitable still support an authoritarian government as necessary if painful economic reforms are to succeed.

"As a friendly neighbor," Tang said, "China hopes that Myanmar [Burma] will enjoy a stable political situation, harmonized relationship between nationalities, progressing economy, and continuing improvements in the people's living standards."

Maung Aye said his China tour was aimed at enhancing friendly cooperation between the governments and armies of Burma and China. He said Rangoon's priorities were to maintain national stability and solidarity, while promoting economic progress. The regime would "actively exert every effort to solve its domestic problems," he said.

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