China gained ground in Burma because of US sanctions: Berman

Last Updated: Wednesday, October 21, 2009 - 22:19

Washington: It is the vacuum created by
US economic sanctions and its policy of isolation that helped
China in gaining ground in Burma, a leading American
Congressman said on Wednesday.

"It is also clear that our policy of isolation over the
past two decades has resulted in China`s growing political and
commercial influence in Burma, and little progress in
supporting those calling for reform," Congressman Howard
Berman, Chairman, powerful House Committee on International
Affairs said.
Chairing a Congressional hearing on Burma, he agreed with
the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, that engagement and
sanctions must be applied together for reforms to take place
in Burma.

"Historically, China`s relationship with Burma has been
precarious, but in our absence it has been strengthened," he
noted.

While China has sought international recognition as a
rising global power, Beijing has become the strongest defender
of Burma`s repressive policies in the United Nations and other
international fora, risking its reputation as a responsible
global partner, Berman argued.

Noting that any changes in Burma will have a direct
impact on China and other neighbouring countries, he said
Burmese border regions have long been a bastion of drug
smuggling, human trafficking, and other criminal activity –
none of which can be contained by political boundaries.

"Thailand and China have also seen a spike in the flow of
refugees as thousands of Burmese have fled across the border
to escape the intensified violence and egregious human rights
violations against women, children, and ethnic minorities," he
said.

Berman said there are troubling questions about military
ties between Burma and North Korea, which Clinton has spoken
about publicly, as well as nuclear weapons proliferation
concerns stemming from that relationship.
Burma has also been sending hundreds of officials to
Russia for nuclear technology training, and is reportedly
engaged in discussions to purchase a nuclear reactor from
Russia.

As Obama heads towards Singapore to attend the APEC
conference as well as the US-ASEAN Summit, Berman said this
will be a unique opportunity for the President to put into
practice US`s new strategy of engagement and multilateral
cooperation with its partners in the region on the Burma
issue.

Bureau Report



First Published: Wednesday, October 21, 2009 - 22:19

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