China wants only prudent UN action on Myanmar

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Beijing, Oct 9: Any United Nations action on Myanmar, whose military rulers recently bloodily put down pro-democracy protests, should be ''prudent and responsible'' and not involve sanctions, close ally China said today.

China and the United States have clashed over whether the United Nations Security Council should do anything against the harsh repression of the popular protests and demand the junta release political detainees and open dialogue with the opposition.

''Any action adopted at the Security Council should be extremely prudent and responsible and helpful to the mediation efforts of the secretary general and to stability, reconciliation, democracy and development in Myanmar,'' said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao.

''China is closely observing developments in our important neighbour Myanmar. And we hope the situation there can develop further in a positive direction,'' he told a regular news conference.

China, which neighbours Myanmar and is one of the country's few backers and major trading partners, is seen as one of the few voices that wield some influence with the generals who in past weeks used armed troops to quell the anti-government movement spearheaded by the Buddhist clergy.

Last week, Western powers circulated a draft statement on Myanmar to the Security Council condemning the repression.

Unlike a Security Council resolution, a statement has no legal force. But if a strongly worded text were approved by China, it would send a forceful message to the junta.

Asked whether China would oppose a UN statement on the former Burma, Liu said his comments should not be understood that way.

''We believe it's quite natural for the international community to concern itself with developments in Myanmar,'' he said, adding China was ''resolutely opposed'' to any sanctions or pressure.

Though having urged Myanmar's generals to exercise restraint, China, which has veto power as a permanent member of the Security Council, has previously blocked UN action against Myanmar and insisted the latest crisis is an internal affair that the Council has no business taking up.

China has been a steady friend of the generals who have ruled for decades in Myanmar standing by them after they crushed a pro-democracy uprising in 1988 and then swept aside a 1990 election won by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy.

Beijing has a deep investment in Myanmar's future, with concerns about trade, border stability and fighting drugs magnified by plans to develop energy resources there.


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