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Myanmar protests not good for China

Scott Tong Sep 26, 2007


Lisa Napoli: The trouble continues in Burma today with mass arrests and anti-government protestors being fired with tear gas. As the tensions grow, many countries are urging restraint, including Burma’s largest economic partner, China. Marketplace’s Scott Tong reports.

Scott Tong: Publicly, Beijing doesn’t interfere in other countries’ business. But news accounts suggest Chinese leaders may quietly be urging calm.

Sean Turnell: They would be quite desperate to try and convince the Burmese regime to have some constraint.

Sean Turnell of Macquerie University in Australia says China is Burma’s biggest ally, and doesn’t want to be linked to a human rights tragedy a year before hosting the Olympics.

Beijing has vast economic resources at stake, too. Its ships use ports in Burma, and it buys large amounts of Burmese wood, minerals and energy.

Turnell: The most significant economic project for China is a very large gas project in the Bay of Bengal.

It’s part of an effort to rely less on oil and gas from Africa and the Middle East

But even if China is whispering nonviolence, Turnell wonders if Burma’s generals are listening. Their chief concern now is political survival rather than exports.

In Shanghai, I’m Scott Tong for Marketplace.

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