The story is true, but not as world-shaking as you might think. Surviving soldiers from the Chinese Expeditionary Force in Burma have repatriated to the People’s Republic of China. The KMT first occupied Burma as part of the disastrous in-all-senses China-Burma-India Theater in World War II. After the Civil War, some more KMT forces retreated into China, rather than surrender to Mao or follow Chiang to Taiwan. Some National Revolutionary Army / Army of the Republic of China soldiers would eventually get quite wealthy on the drug trade, though these survivors seem not to have been so prosperous.
In Myanmar 67 years, the ride was not an easy country to live, “Myanmar itself is a poor country. Such as those of us living in this old soldier in order to stay, but also can have food to eat and clothing to survive is not easy to . “upon by the country said that in Myanmar, many veterans like him can only be regarded as the lowest level of society, some people make a living by selling firewood could not have the money returned. And his relatives in China can not afford the fee.
Article are available from Xinhua (Chinese, Google Translate) and China News (Chinese, Google Translate).
While China has been displaying a level of unprecedented openness and concern for human rights, Burma is allowing her citizens to die of disease and neglect in the shadows. So why has Burma (which diverts aid to its military) been a bigger recipient of international aid than China? Historyguy has more:
HG’s WORLD: Update: A Tale of Two Countries
The contributions to date for Burma, $147,772,066 and China, $187,808,221 seem to be out of sync, with the amount pledged to Burma close to the amount pledged to China. Perhaps a reflection of the needs of a country further down the resource chain from China. The unsettling thing is the question of how much of that $147 million will go to line the pockets of the ruling junta members?
If you think about it for a bit, the answer won’t surprise you.
Burma has largely been in the sort of loser country — those of the Gap and the Seam — that we can live with. Unlike Ba’athist North Korea, Russia, Milosevic’s Serbia, Saddam’s Iraq, Syria, etc., Myanmar has kept its dysfunction largely to itself. Allowing its neighbors of India, China, and Thailand to develop in peace, Burma has long been a problem we can deal with later.
Then Shwe, Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council
Then Burma, lacking refinaries and experiencing the sort of economic problems states do, raised gasoline prices. They did this at the same time of mountain economic pressure over lack of both economic and political reforms. Burmese political activists lept at the opportunity, mass-rallied, and were quickly killed.
The outrage against Burma’s rulers is a product of these facts, with one more: Burma’s neighbors are becoming rich. If the same events happened twenty years ago, the world would pat itself on the back for larger achievements elsewhere. If the same events happened in Africa, the world would not care. That the events did happen a generation agian, and are happening in Africa, testifies to this fact.
So what should we do?
Remove the junta, of course. That others are worse does not give them an excuse to remain in power. Burma is not democratizing in the idealistic (leading to free and fair eleections) or materialistic (leadering to free markets) sense. It kills its own people, and does not meaningfully participate in regional economic growth.
Mark and Shane share their thoughts.
Hookway. J. (2007). Why Myanmar could stir again. Wall Street Journal. October 2, 2007. Available online: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119126187091245243.html.
Remember when I said that, if we did attack Iran, we should take out their refineries? Here’s why:
Myanmar’s recent wave of antigovernment demonstrations — which drew as many as 100,000 protesters at their peak last week before the military began shooting at civilians and arresting Buddhist monks — came after the government slashed a subsidy on imported diesel that was growing more expensive amid rising global fuel prices.
The junta’s harsh rule has prompted trade and investment sanctions from the U.S. and European countries in the past. Now the U.S. is pushing for additional financial sanctions aimed at the military’s senior leaders and companies that do business with them.
That could leave the government with less cash to buy imported diesel and other refined fuels, which it must purchase at global prices, or to provide other economic assistance to ordinary citizens. Although Myanmar exports natural gas and crude oil, the country lacks the capacity to refine such resources.
A financial crunch could stir further unrest among Myanmar’s 56 million people, who are already suffering from decades of economic mismanagement. “The underlying conditions are going to get worse as Burma becomes more unstable and more of a pariah,” predicts Sean Turnell, an economist at Macquarie University in Sydney and a member of that university’s Burma Economic Watch program.
The correlation of forces are troublesome for Burma’s military leaders, as their friends aren’t too happy with them, their people are furious (as those facing higher prices always are), and the world seeks to compound those problems.
It’s rare that every post on a blog’s front page is worth reading. But Eddie of Hidden Unities has done it!
The Burma of 2007 is something like the Central Asia of the 19th century: a mixture of direct and indirect colonization by an outside power. While Shan State, Burma, is under effective Chinese control, the rest of Myanmar is a client-state whose ticket to survival is the good wishes of Beijing.
China gains from having Burma as an ally — especially when Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, and India are so suspicious of China’s rise — but would benefit more from a Burma that would economically reform. A backwater that is only good at ticking off the world is not in Beijing’s interest.
“A very special region: Sex and drugs in the Shan state,” The Economist, http://economist.com/research/articlesBySubject/displayStory.cfm?story_id=3600073&subject=China, 27 January 2005.
An interesting Economist article on a Burmese falling into China’s orbit
Remote and once dirt-poor Mongla has been reborn as a tourist destination, a process that started in 1989, when Myanmar’s army reached a ceasefire and autonomy deal with the Shan. The local warlord, a Shan Chinese named Sai Leun (also known as Lin Mingxian), built Mongla with an unorthodox mixture of opium profits and technical aid from China’s neighbouring province of Yunnan.
Around 350,000 Chinese tourists visit every year to gamble, frequent the massage parlours, and perhaps take in a Thai transvestite show. Lin Mingxian, as he was born, has clearly come a long way from his days as a Red Guard during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. Mongla’s authorities earned $9.6m from tourism in 2002â€”and it is entirely possible that they concealed some of their income.
But is it still Myanmar? Apart from the fluttering of Myanmar’s flag by the side of government buildings, there is little to suggest any connection with the rest of the country. Myanmar’s kyat are scorned; only Chinese yuan are acceptable. The street signs, the language, and most government employees are Chinese, though many are ethnic Chinese born in Shan state, as well as Yunnanese immigrants.
Opium poppies used to flourish openly in the hills around Mongla, but in 1997 Sai Leun declared his fief an â€œopium-free zoneâ€. Chinese advisers were brought in to develop alternative crops, and Sai Leun promoted his new image as an anti-drugs campaignerâ€”he is chairman of the Mongla Action Committee on Narcoticsâ€”by opening an opium museum to educate people about the evils of drugs. It strangely neglects to mention that until 2000, the name Lin Mingxian featured prominently on America’s most-wanted list for major heroin traffickers.
China is a force for connectedness, even in Autarky-lite Burma.
Update: ComingAnarchy looks at the Mekong Region, too. And a photogallery of Shan State is also available.
Update 2 (20 October 2005): Shanghiist looks at Chinese-led deforestation in northern Burma — it isn’t all about sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.