Aung Min Draws Anger for Support of China

Injured monks being transferred from Monywa to Mandalay General Hospital after the government's brutal crackdown. (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

Injured monks being transferred from Monywa to Mandalay General Hospital after the government’s brutal crackdown. (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

People have reacted angrily to President’s Office Minister Aung Min’s claim that Burma should be grateful to China and not halt a copper mine in the Letpadaung mountain range, Sagaing Division, despite fierce public opposition to the project.

Aung Min, who visited the area on Nov. 26, told protesters including Buddhist monks that China provided aid to the former military regime during the 1988 nationwide pro-democracy uprising and so Burma should not try and antagonize its northern neighbor.

But critics have responded furiously to the former general’s words, especially after the brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters at the site on Thursday morning, and said that only the former junta government should be grateful to Beijing for bankrolling the country more than two decades ago.

“It is not right to say this because China helped Burma during 1988,” said Ba Shein, an Upper House MP for the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party. “China protected our military regime and because of this our country took 50 years to have political change.”

Thousands of students, monks and activists were gunned down in the street during the 1988 popular protests. While Western nations imposing economic sanctions on Burma as a consequence, Beijing provided aid that helped the brutal military dictatorship hold onto power.

Kyaw Thu, the founder of the Free Funeral Services Society, said, “Our thanks goes to Buddhism, not China. No one helps our country except our people. Other countries, such as the US, they have their own interests and this is why they help our country.

“Maybe the government should be thankful but it is not for our citizens,” added the well known actor and philanthropist.

Pyone Cho, a leader of the 88 Generation Students group, said China is our neighbor and so we should stay close to each other, although we must protect our own people’s security and livelihoods.

“The government should be careful about the suffering of people through Chinese projects as they are supposed to be for the people,” he said.

Aung Min said that the previous government signed the agreement for the copper mining project and so the current administration would find it difficult to revoke this. The 62-year-old revealed that Naypyidaw worries about China funding insurgencies in border areas such as previously happened with the now-defunct Communist Party of Burma.

However, Ba Shein disagreed with the minister that this was a viable concern. “It is impossible for China to make problems with Burma regarding the cooper mining project,” he said.

Thiha Saw, vice-chairman of the Rangoon-based Myanmar Journalists Association, said, “The current investment in Letpadaung should be used by the government to judge new foreign investment offers in the future,” adding that the government must think first about what benefits such projects bring for the people. “They must protect environmental policy in order to protect the people.”

Kyaw Thu said the Letpadaung copper mining project, which is run by China’s Wan Bao Company in a joint venture with the Burmese military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd, should be stopped as so many local people have suffered as a consequence.

“They should think like it is their brothers or relatives who have to suffer from the crackdown,” said Kyaw Thu. “They should act by thinking about who has to suffer.”

He added that the government should explain the advantages and disadvantages of such project if they are truly undergoing a democratic transition. “The government should stop their brutal crackdowns as they have done in the past when they point guns and drag people around like dogs,” said Kyaw Thu.

2 Responses to Aung Min Draws Anger for Support of China

  1. In my opinion, what U Aung
    Min said was one of the biggest sayings made by Burma’s most prominent and
    responsible persons in 2012.


    U Aung Min’s words openly disclose
    military generals’ real feeling and belief that what they have been doing in
    the Burmese politics since 1988 till today is right including keeping a very
    long tight grip on power which was firmly supported by China as well as keeping
    the people under the military control with the current sham 2008 constitution.


    By the words, U Aung Min importantly makes
    public that China is a problem maker for Burma in its long history, at least
    during Communist insurgency which was entirely orchestrated by the Chinese.


    It is learnt in Burmese
    history that Bagan dynasty was ruined by Chinese invasion. It was also learnt
    that Kachins stopped fighting with Burmese army in 1989 following the request
    made by Chinese who stopped supporting the Burmese Communist Party and turned
    to favour then SPDC.


    After the independence from
    British, Burmese army had had to spend for years all of its military resources
    to expel the Kumingtans the then the enemy of the Communist China from
    Shan state. We never heard of Chinese saying they were grateful to Burma for
    help fighting their enemy of the same blood.


    When the generals listened
    to their Chinese bosses during the last two decades, their Paukphaws helped
    them out in every sector to ruin Burma affecting so seriously the livelihood of
    its people, its environment and economy taking the biggest slice of Burma’s
    rich resources and left Burmese almost nothing but to stay in the worst quality
    of life on earth. With all these immeasurable sufferings without knowing when
    we will recover from the misery, how should we be grateful to China as well as
    the generals as they always demand for it?


    Although the generals are
    saying they are always grateful to China, it is for sure that they never are
    proud of the helps given by Chinese at any time. We are not seeing Chinese jet
    fighters flying in the Burmese skies nowadays. Hundreds of them along with
    other military hardware were purchased from China after 1988 at so called
    friendly prices adding to billions of dollars for which Burmese had to pay back
    from their own pockets. Today almost all of them are grounded as the generals
    could not afford to pay for the spares for which prices were said to be set
    extremely high, just to mention one of so many examples Burmese paid for the
    development of Chinese technologies for which China owe to be grateful to Burma.


    We come to know from U Aung
    Min that the generals are afraid of their fearful Chinese bosses as they are
    angry with stoppage of the Myitsone dam project. The ex-general himself might
    be considering that the President made a mistake to follow the will of his own


    At least his words convey
    good messages – for US that the generals stay with their closest neighbour
    China in constant fear which could be interpreted as abhorrence –for the people
    of Burma that they have to stay with the biting neighbour China forever in fear – and for the ethnic armies like Kachin and Wa
    that they can play wisely the China card to win over the Burmese generals, at least their mind.


    It worths noting that for
    entire populace of Burma it is always very difficult to understand why their
    generals are proud of all their wrong doings against their own people. They
    always wonder who are blind to understand the true situations in Burma
    correctly – 60 million people of Burmese or a few hundred of their generals who
    have no intension to lose their grip on power as well as the guaranteed
    sanctuary of all their robbed riches.


  2. The current leaders of the government and parliaments were all military generals. They were the ones who made all of these destructive projects. So, they cannot insist the Chinese pressure. As long as these generals are in power, our country will be routinely exploited by Chinese. So, one should think of alternative when we think about leadership and legal frame works.

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