Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Burma question

I've been thinking about posting on the protests in Burma (also known as Myanmar) for several days now, but I haven't been able to come up with a good angle. My wife and I support several missionaries in Thailand that work just over the Burmese border with the Internally Displaced People (IDP), people that have been chased out of their villages by gun point only to have the villages burned to the ground, but only after the army has their way with them. There are millions of IDP within Burma that are in need of some sort of support, but I digress. The thing about Burma is that it is so impoverished already that it seems sanctions are not actually helping to bring about any change - hence why the people are now protesting in large numbers. Repression always leads to rebellion - eventually. So, the question then becomes, what can be done to affect change in this nation. Many people have pointed out that China is the key to change within Burma, but I wonder how much of a moral compass China could actually have when it comes to human rights violations, freedom of religion and peacefully stopping rebellions. The Chinese think that the protests in Burma are an 'internal matter' for the Burmese generals to deal with on their own. This is clearly their way of making that point that we won't interfere with others if they don't interfere with us. This is a positive from the Chinese point of view - they have many things they want to keep internal without having to deal with external pressures to resolve them. So, given that China doesn't want to intervene - though they have made a statement - how can the west and those concerned with the situation in Burma cause China to move more decisively?

One member of the EU thinks that he has a solution: an EU boycott the Beijing Olympics. This would be an interesting development since the one thing China wants more than to be left alone by the west is to be accepted by the west as a modern country. If the EU countries were to pull out of the Olympics then a good percentage of the best athletes in the world would not attend them and in tern they would become a joke or at least not taken seriously. But more serious than that, China would lose out on billions of dollars in tourism revenue from the event and from those who don't go as a result of not getting the word of mouth about the beauty of the country from those who attended. It's an interesting concept that should be considered IF the Chinese don't move more decisively within the next couple of weeks OR before serious bloodshed happens.

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