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The Tale of Two Governments — Why Now?
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The Tale of Two Governments

Bridget Kendall, diplomatic correspondent for BBC News, deals directly with the Two disasters, contrasting reactions. Her basic conclusion is that the Chinese government is more concerned with the people in the affected area, while the Burmese government is more concerned with itself.

Chinese President Hu Jintao has flown to south-western Sichuan Province, joining Premier Wen Jiabao, who has been in the area since the earthquake struck.

The Premier “said the focus remained on getting to survivors.

‘Saving lives is still our top priority, as long as hope of survival still exists,’ he said.”

The Chinese are giving press conferences, allowing foreign journalists and experts in the area to help with the effort. Despite being in a much better position to do the job than Burma, China is accepting aid from anyone who offers.

As the BBC notes Burma storm aid frustrations grow. Governments really are talking openly about ways to force the junta to allow outsiders to help the victims of the cyclone.

At this point in the Katrina relief operation even the Hedgemony had figured out that they had screwed up and allowed outside help to actually start getting some assistance to the survivors. The Burmese government has a future problem because of the way they have handled this situation – they could have secured the loyalty of a lot Burmese by taking quick reaction, now the survivors are filling with resentment.


1 Jack K., the Grumpy Forester { 05.16.08 at 10:49 am }

…one can only begin to surmise that the Burmese junta leaders are deaf as well as dumb and blind if they can’t figure out that they are getting pretty close to the edge when the French Foreign Minister starts calling for forceful intervention under the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine. That probably won’t happen under UN auspices, since it requires Security Council approval and China would undoubtedly cast a veto, and a wider debate has been started over whether this of the Burmese government to responsibly provide aid to its people even falls within the purview of the “R2P” doctrine as recognized in UNSC Resolution 1674…

2 Bryan { 05.16.08 at 11:44 am }

The EU is seriously upset with the situation in Burma, and everyone is frustrated because there is no good way of doing anything about it. You can’t invade. The monsoon has arrived, so air drops will be limited. You need boats, and they aren’t available. Sanctions are out of the question. People are dying, and the world is helpless.

China is the only nation with any leverage, and they have their own problems to deal with, even if “internal matters are not the concern of the outside” weren’t engraved in stone in Chinese foreign policy.

3 Kryten42 { 05.16.08 at 9:11 pm }

The rhetoric against the Junta is getting stronger over here also. Rudd is pretty much spearheading the Oceanic regions displeasure towards the Burmese Gov, even calling them ‘the illegitimate government’ at one point. I have even heard officials beginning to compare Burma with Cambodia and asking the question of the UN. If you justified a peace keeping mission into Cambodia, twice, why not Burma? They are asking what the difference is between a Gov that actively commits genocide and a Gov that simply allows genocide.

I see a bumpy road ahead!

4 Bryan { 05.16.08 at 10:21 pm }

China will veto any major UN push, and I don’t see what peace keeping mission can realistically accomplish in the current situation. The junta needs to splinter to provide an opening, and that isn’t likely to happen.

Logic doesn’t seem to work. The junta is sealed inside the bubble of their new capital and don’t really understand what has happened. They don’t seem to be listening to the Thais, or any of their neighbors.

It took a Vietnamese invasion to bring a little stability to Cambodia and wake the world up to the problems. Something similar may have to happen in Burma, but it is essential that the US have no part it, or the whole thing falls apart. A purely regional effort is probably the best plan, because the surrounding nations are the ones most affected by the instability.

There is no doubt that the junta has no intention of assisting the non-Burmese areas that were affected, the ethnic animosity runs too deep. That is definitely a problem for Thailand, as they border those areas.