May 27th, 2008

only one r because it only irks instead of irritates:

Why does the writer this article feel the need to implicitly criticise China for not leaning heavily enough on the Burmese junta to allow foreign relief in to the areas hit by Nargis? Is this person really completely unaware that China has its own disaster of an at least equivalent scale to be dealing with right now? Seriously, two quotes:

Western powers’ offer of humanitarian help, and the hands-off approach of China and India toward the crisis, may continue to frustrate relief efforts, particularly if Burma’s neighbors fail to stay engaged, say regional analysts, aid officials, and Western diplomats.


Strident calls for China and other Asian allies to pressure the junta or else prepare for a possible outside humanitarian intervention appeared to go unheeded, though, as China insisted that Burmese sovereignty must be respected above all.

Might I suggest that Chinese hands are off Burma because they’re too busy dealing with Sichuan?

But finally, we get:

Analysts say that China, which fears instability on its borders, had exerted quiet pressure on Burma, at least until its priorities shifted to earthquake relief in Sichuan. But its sway may be limited, as is Beijing’s patience with an ally that ignores its advice, says David Mathieson, a researcher for Human Rights Watch. Exiled Burmese opposition groups say they have channels to Beijing officials, whom they claim are worried that the junta could collapse, undoing China’s economic interests.

So China does get some token sympathy…. but no, it’s all down to cold, hard, political and economic interests.

Alright, Ford does give China a fair-ish go, especially if we include the ending:

Facing its own natural disaster, China can be forgiven for disengaging from Burma’s crisis. But it may have missed a chance earlier to put a humanitarian face on its rising power in Asia, for example by sending military teams, says Steve Tsang, a professor at Britain’s Oxford University. China could have been the acceptable face of foreign help in the crucial first week.

“There’s a lot China could have done, and they missed the opportunity,” he says. “They could have done it in a way that wasn’t threatening to ASEAN, or even in conjunction with ASEAN.”

But analysts say such an operation would have stretched China’s military, as its Navy lacks the force projection of the US Pacific fleet, which has deployed aircraft carriers near Burmese waters in recent weeks in expectation of clearance to deliver aid.

But really, we’re a little over two weeks too late to be talking the politics of China’s apparent non-intervention in Burma. Once that quake hit, China was excused from the process- more pressing obligations of its own towards its own people, you see. It had to do the job governments are generally expected to do, and it did that, and is still doing so, and admirably, too.

So, lean heavily on India and ASEAN and whoever else you may suspect of carrying some weight in the distant and secretive halls of Naypyidaw, but lay off China, please. China’s got its hands full taking care of its own people right now without being expected to solve the rest of the world’s problems.

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