China rejected, on Wednesday, any idea of sanctioning the Burmese military junta, after a relentless indictment from the UN envoy for Burma who spoke of an “unprecedented” risk of “civil war” and a ” imminent bloodbath ”, urging the Security Council to act.
Sanctions against the Burmese military who overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi “would only worsen the situation,” Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun told an emergency Security Council meeting . The representative of China, Burma’s first supporter, however called for “a return to a democratic transition in this country”.
And if he spoke of “violence and bloodshed (which) does not serve the interests of anyone”, and called on “all parties” to “keep their calm (and) show restraint”, he did not not matched its demands with a threat of sanctions, yet defended by other countries such as the United States or the United Kingdom, worried about the situation on the ground.
No agreement on a proposed text
“The cruelty of the military is too serious and many ethnic armed organizations are clearly showing their opposition, increasing the risk of civil war to an unprecedented level,” warned Christine Schraner Burgener, UN envoy to Burma, during a closed meeting of the Security Council.
“A bloodbath is imminent,” she also warned, noting that the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners (AAPP) had identified “536 people killed by the junta” since the military coup of the 1st February.
“I call on this Council to consider all the means at its disposal to take collective action and do what is necessary”, “in order to avoid a multidimensional disaster in the heart of Asia”, she added. during this urgent meeting requested by the United Kingdom.
The Council meeting ended after two and a quarter hours of discussions. According to diplomats, China has asked for a delay before adopting a text proposal formulated by the United Kingdom, postponing a decision one way or another until Thursday.
Rebel groups ready to take up arms
Taking advantage of these dissensions, the generals continued their bloody response. Eight people were shot dead by security forces on Tuesday, according to the AAPP. Hundreds of others, held incommunicado, are missing.
The violence sparked anger among some 20 ethnically-based rebel groups in Burma. Two of them, the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), have launched several attacks against the security forces.
KIA targeted a police station in far north Kachin state on Wednesday, local media reported. And a police station was targeted with a rocket launcher the day before in the region of Bago, northeast of Rangoon, the economic capital, injuring five police officers. Three other rebel groups threatened to take up arms again.
In Burma, resistance continues with tens of thousands of civil servants and private sector workers still on strike to protest against the military regime. But, fearing reprisals, the demonstrators are few in number compared to the hundreds of thousands in the first weeks after the coup.