Daily News- December 16 - 2001- Sunday

  • Support groups discuss for Democracy Dawn in Burma
  • Jiang's Myanmar trip seen aiding wider Chinese role
  • India to help Myanmar set up a digital library
  • First Myanmar-Thailand Friendship Trade Fair to Be Held
  • Maung Aye talks

  • Support groups discuss for Democracy Dawn in Burma

    Mizzima News (www.mizzima.com)

    Manila, December 15 - Leaders of civil society organizations, parliamentarians, members of the academe, media practitioners, Burmese democracy and ethnic activists coming from the ASEAN region, Australia, Europe, the United States and the Indian sub-continent participated at a three-day conference on Burma held in Manila in Philippines from December 13 to 15.

    Titled as "Democracy Dawning", the conference discussed the issues relating on the current situation in Burma and the solidarity activities in the region for the people of Burma to achieve democracy. In the press statement released today, the participants said that they expect to heighten awareness and focus more attention on the plight of the long-suffering Burmese people.

    "Burma today is a ghost of the dreams of its people. Far from advancing in step with the rest of the world, it has in fact, regressed to a point where people are dying from the abuses of an oppressive regime." said the statement.

    The participants also criticized the governments in the region for their current policies on Burma. "The nations around the region must intervene on the side of the Burmese people". They have called on the Burmese military junta to immediately release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all the political prisoners and to make the on-going talks between the junta and the National League for Democracy transparent in order to transform it into a genuine dialogue.

    "What we have seen in the past one year are the secret talks with Aung San Suu Kyi who is under house arrest. It is essentially secret talks between the military regime and its hostage", said Debbie Stothard from Altsean-Burma based in Bangkok. She was speaking at the press conference held this morning at the Sulo Hotel in Manila.

    "The Philippines has a good experience of democratization. We are trying to draw your experiences to get support for the people of Burma", said Janelle Anne Saffin, Member of Parliament from Australia. "I think it is very clear that the democracy movements have to support each other. It will be very difficult for the Philippines to remain a proper democracy if it is isolated within the region. It is in the interest of the Philippino democratic movement to help and to work together with the other democratic movements in the region", said Axel Queval from the Jean Jaures Foundation in France.

    The conference, attended by total 29 participants, was jointly organized by Mizzima News Agency, Jean Jaures Foundation in France, and Demokraxxia from Philippines and Democratic Progressive Party from Taiwan. It was inaugurated on December 13 with the keynote address by Member of Parliament (Philippines) Teodoro L. Locsin. In his keynote address, Mr. Locsin stressed that the time for democracy in Burma had come.

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    Jiang's Myanmar trip seen aiding wider Chinese role


    BANGKOK, Dec. 15 - Chinese President Jiang Zemin left Myanmar on Saturday after a four-day official visit, which analysts say aimed to strengthen China's economic and strategic position in Southeast Asia. Jiang's visit to Myanmar -- also known by its former name Burma -- was the first by a Chinese head of state since Yangon's current military regime seized power in 1988.

    ''The visit was about solidifying cooperation -- Burma is China's gateway to Southeast Asia,'' said Bertil Lintner, an author and expert on Myanmar based in Thailand.

    During his visit, Jiang signed several agreements which aimed to improve cross-border links, boost investment and strengthen co-operation in oil production and agriculture. Analysts said China was keen to bring an economic element to a relationship which had been based on supplying arms to Myanmar's military government.

    Promoting economic cooperation between outlying areas, such as Yunnan province, and neighbouring countries would help China in its wider strategic aim of ensuring stability along its external borders, they said.

    ''Yunnan is historically a poorly developed part of the country, with great distances between there and economic and transport hubs along the east coast,'' said Robert Karniol, Asia Pacific editor of Jane's Defence Weekly. ''It's more effective to promote development through Burma where there are shorter trade routes to the sea,'' he said.


    Analysts said China needed to improve infrastructure links with its immediate neighbours to the south if a planned free trade area with Southeast Asia was to be a success.Last month China and the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreed to set up a free trade area within ten years. Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said on Saturday he wanted to the plan to be implemented in just two years.

    For impoverished Myanmar, which followed a policy of economic isolation for decades following independence from Britain in 1947, China represents a potential source of much needed capital. In 1995, Myanmar joined ASEAN hoping to attract new investment and develop trade links with the outside world. But the 1997 Asian economic crisis led to a slump in foreign investment from the region.

    And much of the West -- including the United States and the European Union -- has shunned contact with the ruling military, which they accuse of human rights violations. They also want a transition to democracy through reconciliation with the opposition National League for Democracy led by Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

    In contrast, relations between Myanmar's military government and Beijing's communist regime have warmed since the late 1980s when both were isolated internationally after cracking down on pro-democracy movements in their countries. But China still only ranks 15th in terms of foreign direct investment in Myanmar, although $60 million worth of investment projects are currently under discussion. China says it currently has 12 investment projects in Myanmar, worth a combined $100 million. In the fiscal year to March 2001, Myanmar imported $293 million worth of goods from China. Exports to China amounted to $104 million.

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    India to help Myanmar set up a digital library

    By IndiaExpress Bureau

    India is to help Myanmar in setting up a Digital Library at Yangon, as part of the programme of strengthening scientific and technical cooperation with the neighbour.

    This is one of the outcomes of the 2nd meeting of the Indo-Myanmar joint working group on scientific and technological co-operation, which concluded in New Delhi on Friday. The Indian side was led by the Secretary department of Science and Technology Prof. V.S. Ramamurthy and the Myanmar delegation by its Deputy Minister for Science and Technology, Dr. Chan Nyein.

    The two sides identified a number of areas for collaboration which include, Biotechnology especially plant tissue culture, Medical biotechnology, information technology, Seismology, Meteorology, renewable energy particularly solar power, Gassifiers and Science Communication. These were identified under the programme of co-operation in S&T for 2000-02 concluded last year at the first meeting of the Joint Working Group. A Workshop on Biotechnology relating to Agriculture and Aquaculture also formed part of the meeting.

    Following the creation of a separate Ministry of Science and Technology in 1996 in Myanmar, both the countries decided to strengthen bilateral co-operation in scientific fields. The two countries signed an agreement in June 1999setting up the Joint Working Group and its 1st meeting was held in April-2000 at Yangon.

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    First Myanmar-Thailand Friendship Trade Fair to Be Held

    YANGON, Dec 15, 2001 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- A Myanmar-Thailand Friendship Trade Fair, the first of its kind, will be held in Tachilek, a border town in eastern Shan state of Myanmar linking Thailand's Maesai, on January 18-27, according to sources at the Myanmar Ministry of Commerce Saturday.

    The 10-day trade fair, jointly sponsored by the Myanmar-Thai Cultural and Economic Cooperation Association (CECA) and the Thailand-Myanmar CECA, is aimed at enabling entrepreneurs of the two countries to cooperate in economic and cultural sectors, and to promote tourism operation. Over 300 companies and entrepreneurs of Myanmar and Thailand will exhibit their quality products at the trade fair, the sources said.

    According to official statistics, Myanmar-Thai bilateral trade, including the border trade, amounted to 648.89 million U.S. dollars in the first eight months of this year, accounting for 17.69 percent of Myanmar's total foreign trade. Thailand stands as the country's second largest trading partner only after Singapore.

    Since opening to foreign investment in late 1988, Myanmar has drawn a total of 1,289.75 million dollars worth of Thai contracted investment in the country as of the end of June this year, ranking the third after Singapore and Britain.

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    Maung Aye talks

    The Bangkokpost
    Achara Ashayagachat

    The government is making plans to invite Gen Maung Aye, Burma's army chief and the regime's second-in-command, in a bid to build on improved ties, sources said yesterday.It would be the general's first official visit in his capacity as army chief and vice-chairman of the State Peace and Development Council.

    Previously, he came as a regional army commander and head of Burma's delegation to Regional Border Committee meetings, the sources said.

    Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, deputy premier and defence minister, suggested he be invited after progress made at talks here in September between Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, the SPDC first secretary.

    Gen Maung Aye's visit early next year would be ``an endorsement of the success of Thaksin's neighbourly policy towards Burma,'' the sources said.

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