Chinese Companies Must Act Responsibly: Envoy

Wang Yingfan, China’s special envoy for Asian affairs, right, speaks to Khin Maung Swe, the leader of the National Democratic Force, on March 16, 2013. (Photo: Patrick Boehler / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — Chinese companies should improve their sense of social responsibility when operating in Burma, China’s Special Envoy Wang Yingfan told a group of selected Burmese opposition politicians, scholars and journalists in Rangoon on Saturday.

Wang tried to dispel grievances that have strained Burma’s relations with its biggest foreign investor, ranging from China’s role in the military conflict in Kachin State to cross-border crime and environmental protection.

The septuagenarian former ambassador to the United Nations is one of China’s most eminent diplomats. Wang has dealt with China’s hottest foreign policy topics including the handover of Hong Kong and Macao to the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999 and the country’s territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

His visit to Naypyidaw and Rangoon coincides with a visit by the American special envoy to Burma, W. Patrick Murphy, who has made the ethnic tensions in Arakan State the focus of his trip.

Wang praised the recently issued report on the controversial Letpadaung copper mine, which is partly run by a subsidiary of a Chinese defense manufacturer, for its detail and level of transparency. “It says clearly that there have been many shortcomings. If this project is to go ahead, both sides have much do.”

During a protest against the mine in November dozens of people, including monks, were left injured after police used white phosphorus smoke grenades to disperse the crowds. A commission chaired by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi issued the report on the crackdown, the legality and environmental impact of the investment last Tuesday.

“When we signed this contract, it relied on the environmental legislation of your country at the time. Now, you have raised the environmental standards,” Wang said. “These companies should have a sense of responsibility towards society.”

“We have to prove with our acts that the contract is beneficial for both countries and both peoples, including the local population,” Wang said.

“Chinese companies have just started to go abroad,” he said. “We lack international experience and we lack relevant human capital. Chinese companies going abroad are very weak in their public relations work, but they will improve.”

Wang said that he has yet to meet representatives of Chinese companies investing in Burma. “I will try to find time to meet them when I return to China,” he said.

He denied allegations that China was artificially prolonging the civil war in Kachin State, which has re-erupted in June 2011. Wang, who chaired peace talks between the Kachin Independence Organization and the Burmese government in the border town Ruili a week ago said that Chinese interests suffered from further hostilities. “Peace serves our interests much better,” he said.

China has hosted several rounds of talks between the two sides over the last two years. Accidental shelling of Chinese territory during the Burmese army’s Christmas offensive against the KIA had prompted a furious response by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Chinese air force denied local reports that Burmese jets used Chinese airspace when attacking KIA positions.

“Many of our interests, including some economic projects, have suffered from the fighting,” he said. “We are among those who lost out.”

He said that China has told both sides that the war has to end. “In order to solve the conflict, fighting is unacceptable. A military solution is unacceptable.”

Wang said that China has investigated reports of supplies of armaments to the Kachin Independence Army and “dealt with the issue.”

“Neither the Chinese government nor the military will support the Kachin side to continue the war,” he said. “The providing of weapons is out of the question.”

Wang called on Burmese authorities to work more closely with China in combating cross-border crime. “We can share intelligence and take measures together,” he said.

Last year has marked a peak in arrests and seizures of smuggled goods at the border. Border police confiscated 1,143 arms and five tons of drugs in 2012, according to the Yunnan Police Security Bureau. Yunnan police said they deported 5,228 Burmese civilians and stopped 85 militiamen from entering China. Jade supply in China has dwindled after a crackdown on illegal imports from Burma.

“Are there many shady things happening in the border areas? Yes, there are. But these things are not our government’s policy,” Wang said.

“China has illegal traders, smugglers, crooks, even some big crooks that come to your country and defraud your government and companies,” he said. “China’s central government and the provincial government in Yunnan have a clear policy: We do not support any illegal behavior.”

President Thein Sein will discuss these matters with his new Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping during a visit to Beijing scheduled for early April, Wang said. The visit would be Thein Sein’s third trip to the country since he assumed the presidency in March 2011. He last held talks with Xi in September, when the then Chinese vice-president called on Burma to guarantee the “smooth implementation of major cooperation projects.”

“Changes are fast, changes are momentous,” Wang said on Saturday. “The Chinese leadership supports Burma’s opening up. There are so many requests and expectations coming from the Burmese government. We pay attention to them.”

Among those who attended the meeting with Wang were the leader of the National Democratic Force, Khin Maung Swe, the National League for Democracy’s Nyan Win and former exiled activist Aung Naing Oo, who is now working at the Myanmar Peace Center. The Chinese diplomat’s repeated efforts to engage them in a conversation was for the most part met with with cordial, yet strained silence.

China’s new ambassador to Burma Yang Houlan, a career diplomat with previous postings in Afghanistan and Nepal, is set to arrive in Rangoon next week.


6 Responses to Chinese Companies Must Act Responsibly: Envoy

  1. Sweet, aren’t they these Tayokes?

  2. “Chinese companies have just started to go abroad,” he said. “We lack international experience and we lack relevant human capital. Chinese companies going abroad are very weak in their public relations work, but they will improve.”
    I like the above paragraph for sincerity of China. China should keep international standard for mining practices as well as all others for the sake of Burmese people, particularly all ethnic minorities.
    “Many of our interests, including some economic projects, have suffered from the fighting,” he (China) said. “We are among those who lost out.”

    “He said that China has told both sides that the war has to end. “In order to solve the conflict, fighting is unacceptable. A military solution is unacceptable.”
    China should be aware of the facts that Kachin issue is the crucial for future landmark decision for all other ethnics in Burma.
    If China keeps value of international standard in any peace negotiation upon all ethnics’ issues, China should take account of Panglong agreement. Because Panglong agreement is the exact rule of law in fact. I would not blame China for those important issues involvement as it is not the matter of interfering Burma by China. Without agreement from all ethnics, China should not deal businesses with bama military thugs upon robbing all ethnics lands and resources in any cases. If China avoids ethnics land , resources and only do business in Rangoon and Mandalay, it is up to the bama military thugs decision with China. Because ethnics’ land and resources are not owned by bama military thugs as well as non-democratic quasi- military government. China must respect all Burmese ethnics if they are small or less military power if China want to be success in Burma. Wise-USA is talking about the crucial important of ethnics peace issue in Burma before US will be off all sanction on Burma. China should not sleep or neglect Burma all the time with the use of outdated foreign policy. Burmese people are poor but most are not naive. Most know about the communist way ( bad reputation) of handling so most praise the both Obama’s and Ms. Clinton’s way of handling. PLease, send the wise and updated Chinese diplomat in Burma as an capable and efficient Ambassador.

  3. China and Social Responsibility? …Sigh`…See the Bejin smoke in the evening?

  4. “Chinese companies have just started to go abroad,” he said. “We lack international experience and we lack relevant human capital. Chinese companies going abroad are very weak in their public relations work, but they will improve.”

    China is sincere.

    “Many of our interests, including some economic projects, have suffered from the fighting,” he said. “We are among those who lost out.”

    China now knows that all ethnics’ issues are important , crucial for both sides. China must show that China will not stir up or mess up Burma like colony policy ( invasion and occupation ) of British, Japan and US (invasion with KMT) in history.

    China should not neglect Burma like wise Obama and Ms. Clinton with the best of US foreign policy on Burma. US clearly states that Burmese ethnics issues are crucial for release of sanction or not ( cheer USA). USA is more sincere. Most Burmese like Obama as well as Ms Clinton photo T shirt than others.

  5. Sino-Orwellian double-speak.
    Enough Chinese meddling in the country. Just get out. Go dig your copper in Australia (not Austria Herr Böhler!)

  6. The Chinese envoy reassured the future environmental issues coming up with all the projects. He guaranteed to clean up the mess and what more do we expect? Hopefully that other huge joint ventures from the Western nations pop up after this copper mine settlement.

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