Coldblooded massacres continue in Myanmar as forces of the military junta that seized power in a coup   fire live ammunition on thousands of Burmese who have been protesting against the coup on the streets of major towns since February 1. Reports said that Thursday was the bloodiest of the protests with 38 demonstrators being killed. [...]

Sunday Times 2

China: The only country that can help resolve Myanmar imbroglio


Coldblooded massacres continue in Myanmar as forces of the military junta that seized power in a coup   fire live ammunition on thousands of Burmese who have been protesting against the coup on the streets of major towns since February 1.

Reports said that Thursday was the bloodiest of the protests with 38 demonstrators being killed. UN reports said that at least 54 people have been killed but the actual total could be much higher. More than 1,700 people had been arrested including 29 journalists.

A woman cries and flashes a three-finger salute as she attends the funeral of victims shot dead during the anti-coup protest in Yangon, Myanmar on Friday. Reuters

International sanctions imposed and threatened are not likely to have effect on the military junta who seem to be carrying on the military dictatorship commenced in 1962 by Gen. Ne Win and was continued by his successors  to date.

International sanctions imposed  by Western countries on Russia and Iran have not been successful and even though Myanmar is a poor and much less powerful country, it is unlikely to give in to the threats of sanctions. Myanmar’s military juntas have survived for long in isolation.

Paradoxically, it appears that China, which is considered to be the patron saint of the ruling junta, could turn out to be the only country that could influence the junta.

In our comments last Sunday,  we quoted a Reuters report of China’s Ambassador to Myanmar saying that China does  not approve of what has been going on in Myanmar and that it was not privy to information that a coup was to be staged.

If China is not backing the coup of the military junta and has an open mind about it, it could be the only state that could influence the military leaders to stop the killing of innocents and reach a settlement with Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the National League for Democracy.

Myanmar is important to China not only because its southern neighbour’s rich natural resources but also because it is China’s gateway to the Indian Ocean in the Bay of Bengal.

China has emerged as the world’s second largest economy and a military power in the Asian region on its own efforts. It is the most influential state in South East Asia, particularly with the ASEAN group of which Myanmar is a member.

If China could with other Asian powers persuade the Myanmar junta  to reach a settlement with NLD leaders and bring the carnage to a halt, its prestige would no doubt increase by leaps and bounds not only in Asia  but globally.

Intervention in the Myanmar imbroglio even through diplomacy would be a quantum  leap in geopolitics. But it has done so before.

On February 21, 1972 President Richard Nixon travelled to Beijing, shook hands with Mao Zedong and brought about the US-China rapprochement, stunning the world that had seen the two countries growling at each other since World War 11. The second time round, Deng Xiaoping turned the Chinese economy — not geopolitics — on its head by switching over to a market economy from the rigidly Maoist economy. It brought China from the bottom rungs of an economic power to the second biggest economy in the world.

Xi jinping, the Chinese Leader, last week and this week too presides over the annual sessions of the Chinese Communist Party in the Great Hall of the People. If Xi, who now wields greater power as a president than even Mao Zedong, announces China’s desire to help resolve the Myanmar issue, it would certainly enhance China’s prestige as a rising world power.

Meanwhile, the response of ‘Buddhist Sri Lanka’ to the tragedy in Myanmar has been pathetic. How has the Neutral Non-Aligned Sri Lankan foreign policy been instrumental in expressing solidarity with the people of Myanmar? And what have our chest-thumping Buddhist militants done so far or even said in words about the cold blooded killing of fellow Buddhists in Myanmar?

Save the world while ignoring Elephant in the room?

World leaders and even leading scientists were caught with their pants down when the COVID-19 virus struck in 2019 and spread faster than any known plague to all regions.

Pandemics have been identified a long time ago as natural disasters and even under developed countries had some kind of institutions to detect rare pandemics. But they were only half prepared.

The COVID-19 pandemic, we are told by learned scientists and not-so-learned politicians, has taught us many lessons. It has shown us that abuse of nature can lead nature striking back such as in the form of pandemics, tsunamis, raging forest fires, devastating cyclones, unprecedented droughts and floods and more.

The Paris Environmental Accord which former American President Donald Trump in sheer idiocy ignored has been revived by President Joe Biden signing on and it is hoped that the main objective of the accord to keep Planet Earth from overheating – limiting Global Warming below 2 degrees Celsius — will be achieved. It is a tremendously difficult task but we hope the melting of the polar caps and the resultant calamities — tsunamis, forest fires, droughts and the rising of the sea levels — will soon drive enough sense to all concerned.

But even if the Paris accord targets are reached, the world is being threatened by another Dooms Day, Armageddon or call it what you may. The end of the world, we are told, is close at hand.

It is being predicted by some of the very same scientists who are warning us about climate change: The world will run short of food around 2050.

It is pointed out that  the world took 200,000 years to reach a population of I billion and only 200 years to reach today’s population of 7.1 billion. We are adding on 1 billion every 12-15 years and would reach a figure of 10 billion by 2050 after which there would not be enough food for the people of the world.

From a Sri Lankan perspective, we were about 7 million at the time of Independence and reached 12 million around 1970. Now there are 21 million — almost doubled the population in 50 years.

But who cares about this population explosion, the Population Bomb as some demographers call it? Establishment politicians, religious leaders shy away from the topic. It involves birth control, abortions etc. And the politicians love it because more babies mean more votes. Asking voters to resist the urge to merge and produce babies, wanted or unwanted, risks unpopularity.

The D-Day for humanity may be only about 30 years away but let’s carry on regardless like till the day like Covid arrived?

The fallout of the population is already being felt in our country. People displaced from their traditional villages deprived of land or homes are moving to remote regions and clearing up forests while displacing wild animals such as elephants from their traditional feeding grounds. The elephants are moving into the land of cultivators destroying their crops and homes. They are killing humans and humans are killing the elephants.

We cannot predict what happens when humans run out of food but the elephant- human conflict indicated a possible scenario. But who cares? Let’s talk of other matters ignoring the elephant in the room.

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