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Burma's exiled ethnic nationalities seminar held in North America

Online Commentary

 

Ni How Mar!

Kanbawza Win

 

The loop around the neck of the appeasement policy better known by its hideous name of Constructive Engagement is getting tighter and tighter as US Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice condone the ASEAN Summit to show her displeasure of the ASEAN countries in soft peddling with the Burmese Junta. This will be the first time that the Secretary of State, in more than two decades, that will not to attend the annual Foreign Minister's meeting with external partners to give the 10-member ASEAN a profile in global affairs that other regional groupings lack. This action alone indicates that that punitive action against the Junta is hitting the target. ASEAN has made things awkward for Dr. Rice to persuade Burma to give up its impending ASEAN chairmanship and now it is no wonder that ASEAN will find its stature diminished. Such is the collateral impact of U.S. power.

 

The concern over Burma 's assumption of the prestigious ASEAN chairmanship, a position that rotates alphabetically among the group's members has come to the forefront.  Rice was very diplomatic when she said that, "I am very sorry that I am not going to be able to go to the ASEAN summit this year and to the ARF (The ASEAN Regional Forum is Asia’s largest security forum, grouping ASEAN with countries like Russia, China, Japan and North Korea) because I think this is a vital organization with which we want to engage more,"

 

To be candid Dr.Rice is scheduled to visit Africa in the week before the ASEAN meeting, and is tentatively due to return to the United States a day or two before Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick leaves for the ASEAN Summit meeting in Vientiane, the Laotian capital. This paint the picture that the region will have to choose their naughty baby Burma , on one hand and their trading partners EU and US, on the other. It is long overdue that the regional leaders' whims and fancies get the better of their judgment and ignore the gregarious human rights violations in their midst.

 

Credit goes to Dr. Rice who made it vividly clear of the position of the US and bluntly tell the Thai hosts that Thailand must press the military rulers of Burma to free Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other political dissidents. Dr. Rice has insisted that the United States has long called upon the Junta to allow greater political freedoms and respect human rights.  "We hear from time to time representations that there will be progress, but there seems never to be progress," commented Dr. Rice, proving beyond doubt the that regional organization is supporting the regime that lies the very concept of truth. President Bush has also said that "this kind of people could not be negotiate with or reason with".

 

However, the absence of Dr. Condoleezza Rice from the ASEAN gathering in the Laotian capital of Vientiane isn't about to damage America 's web of bilateral and multilateral ties in the region. But by skipping the meeting Dr. Rice will lose an important chance to meet her Asian peers on neutral ground the Foreign Ministers of China, Japan and South Korea will also attend. Dr. Rice will also miss a regional security forum, hosted by ASEAN at the same time, which North Korea will attend. That is how the Junta played a silent destructive role in the regional and international affairs, which in Burmese we say Nga Khone Ma Ta Gaung, Ta Hle Lone Poke meaning the whole load of fish has to be discarded because of one rotten fish. This also clearly proves that Burma 's internal affairs have become not only a regional but also a global problem.

 

As for ASEAN, Dr. Rice's absence makes it harder for the group to sustain its global profile, and a diminished ASEAN pushes China closer to the centre of geopolitics in Asia . China , meanwhile, will be quietly taking great delight in America 's downgrade of engagement with ASEAN. Beijing has spent the best part of the last decade carefully preparing to exercise more influence in Southeast Asia . Soon China and Indonesia will sign a strategic partnership between their defence industries as China is offering Indonesia missile technology. It seems that the diplomatic equilibrium is lost and that the Americans have undermine the geo politics, that Burma is the key to the soft underbelly of Asia . The US always assumes that strong bilateral ties make up for a lack of commitment to multilateral institutions. Not, that we are saying that a ready solution is available in Vientiane but America should drive home the solution much more earlier by forcing the ASEAN to take drastic action on this rogue nation instead of abandoning the region. Singapore have gone out of their way to convince the US that it provides a vital security blanket for the region and have offered America naval berthing facilities after the American lost the Subic and Clark bases in the Philippines. The more assertive policy forcing the ASEAN to handle its pet baby Burma should have been taken much earlier.

 

So the question is would it help if the regime in Burma announced that it is forgoing the ASEAN chairmanship? But the generals in Rangoon may not even think to help their ASEAN colleagues out of a bind if it means appeasing the country that has imposed heavy sanctions on their economy. To be candid they are very pleased that Condelzza Rice is staying away. All they care is how to exploit the ASEAN in order to shore up their legitimacy in the international community. Singapore 's Foreign Minister George Yeo, said on the balancing of forces to optimize its position, " This year's ministerial meeting will surely be off balance, and therefore one that many ministers will want to forget.”

 

China access to UNOCAL make a new threshold bid for $18.5 billion -- would be the largest foreign takeover ever made by a Chinese firm in the US at the time when the oil price continues to soar, underscoring the finite supply of global stocks, CNOOC remains under the majority control of the Communist Party-led state, suggesting that this alone made the deal a threat to the US. This is where Burma comes in, for China has tentative plans to construct its major oil pipe line across Burma direct to Kunming from the off shore oil wells of the Gulf of Martaban once UNOCAL is well secure in her possession.

 

It is to be recorded that the US relationship was already highly complex and there has been friction in recent months over China 's roughly $160 billion trade surplus with the United States . Tensions also have grown over North Korea 's pursuit of nuclear weapons. In Washington , some suggest that China is not doing enough to pressure North Korea , its long time ally, while propping up the regime in Pyongyang with food and fuel. Chinese officials have criticized the United States for demonizing North Korea and undermining the possibility of progress. Taiwan is always a hot button. China claims the self-governing island as part of its territory and threatens to reclaim it by force if Taiwan 's government moves toward declaring its independence. The United States is nominally pledged to come to Taiwan 's aid in event of war. But whatever, the US relations with China it seems that the US has a tendency to abandon Southeast Asia to the Chinese influence and one of the main reasons is because of the region's naughty baby the Burmese Junta.

 

Any way, Burma is just a part of the small pawn in the huge global game of chess, where India , China and Russia will pool together to counter balance the American superpower. Perhaps Dr. Condoleezza Rice has sacrificed this small pawn of ASEAN to the Chinese as she has to tackle East Asia and the Middle east and also because of pungent smell of Burma, we might as well bite the bullet and accept Pauk Phaw as our boss and from now on, we should abandon our traditional greetings as "Nae Kaung Tha Lar" or "Sawadi Krupt" etc and might as well each other as "Ni How Mar." all because of the ASEAN love for the Burmese Junta. Perhaps Karma has caught up with the Burman/Myanmar who are bent on the policy of a great nation with ethnic cleansing policy will itself be subjected to the same policy by the Chinese as even now Mandalay was sneering label as 2nd Beijing by the Burmese themselves.

 

Vancouver

 

The views express here are solely the opinion of the author. (Kaowao's Editor)


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