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STATEMENT: China Must Act on Burma as Olympics Kick Off
August 8, 2008
Activist Groups Worldwide Call on China to Stop Supporting Burma's Dictators

August 8th 2008, the start of the Beijing Olympic Games, is also the 20th anniversary of the 1988 Burmese people’s uprising.

The fanfare and glitz of today’s opening ceremonies, to be watched by billions around the globe, are intended to herald the arrival of China as a newly responsible and capable world power. However, China undermines the public image it is trying to present by being the main supporter of the Burmese regime.

Twenty years ago today, the Burmese people’s frustration and anger over decades of military rule bubbled over into a massive non-violent uprising. We, as organizations dedicated to restoration of democracy in Burma, want to remind the world that Burma’s dream of democracy deferred and China’s lofty Olympic ambitions are today deeply connected.

Without China’s propping up of the Burmese junta’s dictatorship, today might be a celebration of a people’s victory rather than a reminder of a nation’s continued tragedy. China provides Burma’s junta with almost everything it needs to perpetuate its rule. China sells Burma the arms and military hardware it needs to sustain its rule by the barrel of a gun. China protects Burma on the international stage, shielding it from action at the UN Security Council, and ensuring that international pressure is muted by Chinese diplomacy. And China fills the regime’s coffers with lucrative oil and gas deals, enabling the junta to ignore international sanctions and an economy decimated by its own mismanagement. Simply put, China is the Burmese junta’s arms dealer, bodyguard, and personal bank.
In return for its largesse, aside from a few cutthroat deals on Burma’s vast energy resources, China receives only trouble. Burma exports to China a raging HIV/AIDS epidemic that its military regime refuses to act on. Burma is also China’s largest source of illegal drugs, from heroin to methamphetamines. And, of course, China gets the shameful dishonor of publicly propping up a stubborn and despised regime. China should stop putting its neck out for a regime that is already a regional threat to peace and security.

We, the undersigned organizations, today call on China to end its vital support for the Burmese military junta. We demand that China:

Implement an immediate arms embargo with Burma.

Call for the release of all Burmese political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi.

Halt its obstruction of justice for Burma’s people at the United Nations.

Publicly denounce the military’s regime sham “roadmap to democracy” and preparations for the 2010 elections, and call for genuine democratization and reconciliation.
China claims that it is promoting stability in Burma in its engagement with the regime, but Burma will never know stability until democracy is rightfully restored. After the junta’s bloody crackdown of the Saffron Revolution and its criminal response to Cyclone Nargis, China can no longer argue with any sincerity that the Burmese junta is fit to rule. China should end its support for this regime and use its clout and influence in Burma to force the generals to the negotiation table with Burma’s ethnic nationalities and the democratic opposition. Until China takes responsibility for its actions in propping up Burma’s dictatorship, China will never be regarded as a “responsible power,” no matter how many Olympic spectacles it dazzles with. An entire country is waiting for China to act, and an entire world is watching. Let August 8th 2008 also be remembered as the day that China finally changes course on Burma.

  1. Burma Partnership
  2. Free Burma Coalition - Philippines (FBC-Phils)
  3. Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID)
  4. Polish Burma Solidarity
  5. Center for Peoples Dialogue (CPD)
  6. Friends of the Third World (FTW)
  7. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
  8. Canadian Friends of Burma (CFOB)
  9. Burma Campaign UK
  10. The Rangoon Post, USA
  11. Partners Relief & Development Australia
  12. The Montagnard Foundation, Inc
  13. Free Burma Campaign (Korea)
  14. Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (Altsean-Burma)
  15. People's Forum on Burma (PFB)
  16. Danish Burma Committee (DBC)
  17. Taiwan Free Burma Network
  18. Human Rights Without Frontiers South East Asia
  19. Center for Citizens' Alliance
  20. PD Burma
  21. Association Suisse Birmanie
  22. Korean House for International Solidarity (KHIS)
  23. Actions Birmanie, Belgium
  24. Hong Kong Christian Institute
  25. Asia Monitor Resource Centre
  26. Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants
  27. Info Birmanie
  28. Burma Initiative, Germany
  29. Christian Solidarity Worldwide
  30. Burma Global Action Network
  31. US Campaign for Burma
  32. Burma Campaign Australia
  33. National Coalition Against Racial Descrimination (Nepal)
  34. Kachin National Organization –Japan

This statement was issued by the Burma Partnership. Media Contact: +66 81 839 9816, +66 84 466 5406, +66 81 686 1652
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