Monday, November 19, 2007

Notes on the Burma Issue

I. Reactions from major nations:

1) United States: The U.S. refused to issue visas for military officials and frozen Burmese Military Commander Than Shwe and 13 Burmese officials’ financial assets in the U.S. The U.S. has also urged China to exert its influence on Burma.
2) China: However, China along with Russia prevented the UN Security Council from imposing sanctions on Burma. China hoped that Burma could resolve the problem on its own, and addressed that China did not want to intervene in other countries’ domestic politics. China is Burma’s largest and most important trade partner, as well as economic and strategic ally. Burma is the most important axis for Chinese oil resources, as China experienced problems in transporting oil through the Strait of Malacca. Burma and China also made plans for building an economic zone stretching from Yunnan through Burma.
3) EU: The UK requested the EU to impose sanctions, and France summoned Burma’s envoy in France.
4) ASEAN: Representatives of the 9 countries in ASEAN (except Burma) drafted a strongly worded resolution on September 27, calling on the Burmese military government to exercise great restraint and to search for a political solution.
5) UN: The UN dispatched former UN Chief Political Deputy-Secretary Ibrahim Gambari as the “UN Secretary-General’s special envoy” to act as mediator and to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi.

II. Measures by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Taiwan):

1) End of September—The MOFA informed representative in Thailand to remind more than 100 Taiwanese businessmen in Burma to watch out for security. Emergency measures were also established with domestic airliners for a possible evacuation scenario.
2) September 27—The MOFA raised the status of travel to Burma to “orange warning” (to defer travel).
3) September 28—The MOFA issued a press statement condemning the Burmese military government for its actions suppressing protesters.

III. Measures by the Presidential Office (Taiwan):

1) September 28—President Chen Shui-bian, representing the Taiwanese government, expressed strong condemnation and regret towards the anti-democratic, anti-human rights and anti-humane acts of violence by the Burmese military government. He also appealed to the world’s democratic forces to intervene in order to bring the people of Burma freedom, democracy and peace.
2) October 1—Vice President Annette Lu summoned the “Forum to Express Support for Burma Democratization,” announcing to combine public groups and under the Democratic Pacific Union (DPU) to establish the “Oceanic Network of Support for Burma Democratization.” This network is meant to use Taiwan’s democratic experience to assist Burma in taking the road to democracy.

IV. Actions that Taiwan can adopt:

1) Taiwan should appeal to the UN and the international community to keep paying attention to the Burma issue, and support foreign embassies and international organizations to impose sanctions on Burma.
2) Taiwan can create a join-declaration statement or a formal letter through the “Global New Democracies Conference” (to be held in January of next year) to express its support for Burma’s democratic movement.
3) Through human rights, volunteer and religious NGOs, Taiwan must continue to assist the Burmese democracy movement, and especially help the Burmese people to learn to use the Internet.
4) Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan should pass a resolution supporting democracy in Burma or establishing a U.S. and EU parliamentary link. For example, U.S. First Lady Laura Bush, along with 16 U.S. Senators, sent a letter of support to Aung San Suu Kyi. Taiwan’s 44 female legislators can make a similar statement.
5) Various political parties need to support Burmese democratic activists; for example, the DPP supported Burma to be a member of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD) and Liberal International (LI).
6) Taiwan has to strengthen international communications and point out China’s tolerance towards the Burmese military government’s suppression of its people. Taiwan also should call for international support towards Aung San Suu Kyi to request China to take a greater responsibility in pressuring Military Commander Than Shwe and the Burmese government’s anti-democratic actions. In any case, Beijing Olympics should not become an “Olympics of Massacre.”

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