TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Doug Krizner: Yesterday, the U.S. Treasury announced sanctions against 14 government officials in Myanmar, or Burma. Any assets these individuals have in U.S. banks or other financial institutions will be frozen. The global community has been struggling for a solution to the fierce military crackdown on a pro-democracy movement.
Let’s bring in Mike Mitchell of Orion Strategies in Washington, D.C. Mike, with respect to using economic leverage to change the situation, what’s the position China has in this?
Mike Mitchell: Absolutely critical. China is the big neighbor adjoining Burma. China has tremendous economic, political and security interests. And China does have the ability to weigh in and work with the generals on determining the outcome of what’s gonna happen in Burma. They certainly have this economic clout.
Krizner: So you’ve been covering this story for at least two decades.
Mitchell: That’s correct.
Krizner: Where are we in that timeline? I mean, how is this uprising different from the uprisings we’ve seen in the past?
Mitchell: I would say the main difference today is the use of technology. Whereas in 1988, you had, you know, the nation literally shut down and went to the streets and was demonstrating — but the Burmese regime dropped the overseas telephone line, threw all the journalists out into the country, and then sent the military into the streets to conduct mass killings. And I think what’s changed is the democracy movement has been able to use technology to get their story out. You’re seeing video posted on YouTube, you’re seeing e-mails with pictures of demonstrations going on. Inside, there’s a use of cell phones, satellite phones. All of this was unprecedented.
Krizner: Mike Mitchell is with Orion Strategies, they’re a consulting firm in Washington, D.C. Mike, thanks so much for speaking with us.
Mitchell: Thank you very much.
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