China to ignore US sanctions on Myanmar

China’s foreign ministry on Wednesday dismissed US pressure to freeze relations with Myanmar, criticising Washington’s sanctions and its intrusion into a soverign nation’s internal affairs.

    National League for Democracy HQ in Rangoon closed since March

    Foreign ministry spokesman Kong Quan said human rights issues in the country “belong to the internal affairs of Myanmar and are between the government of Myanmar and the opposition party."
      
    "Basically, China is not in favour of exerting pressure to others. It will not be helpful to solve the question, rather it will complicate it," he added.  
      
    US pressure on China

    But the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia, Randy Schriver, said China was looking after its own interests and was becoming an outcast on the issue of Myanmar’s most famous human rights spokeswoman, Aung San Suu Kyi.

    "They're increasingly isolated, and again I think they're missing an opportunity if they don't use some of their leverage and pressure to change what's going on in Burma," Schriver said.
      
    Myanmar's rights record has been put under the spotlight since opposition leader Suu Kyi was put in custody after vicious clashes between her followers and pro-regime elements at the end of May.
         
    "China is missing an opportunity in my view … if they don't join with the rest of the region and the rest of the international community to put whatever pressure we can on the regime there," he added.
      
    US Sanctions

    "The sanctions legislation passed by the House today is a tough measure, but no tougher than Burma's ruling thugs deserve"

    Tom Lantos
    US Democratic Representative



    Earlier, US lawmakers on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to sanction Myanmar's government, imposing trade restrictions, freezing the country's financial assets in US banks and installing a visa ban on government officials seeking to enter the United States.
         
    The Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003, which passed in the House by a vote of 418 to 2, also authorizes US President George Bush to use resources to assist Myanmar's political activists.
      
    The US Senate last month passed similar legislation.
      
    Both the House and Senate bills, which must be reconciled before being submitted for Bush's signature, were introduced in protest over the government's recent crackdown on political opposition and its detention on 30 May of the famous opposition leader. 
      
    Harsh criticism

    "The Burmese government had two years to deal seriously with Aung San Suu Kyi, and instead, they viciously attacked the Nobel Laureate," said California Representative Tom Lantos, who sits on the House International Affairs Committee, after the vote.
      
    "The sanctions legislation passed by the House today is a tough measure, but no tougher than Burma's ruling thugs deserve," he continued.
      
    After being held for a while at Yangon's Insein prison, Suu Kyi is now being held at an undisclosed location.

    She won 1990 elections in a landslide election but has never been allowed to rule.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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