|Chinese nationals, believed to be involved in illegal logging, arrive at a court in Myitkyina on 22 July. (PHOTO: Reuters).|
Myanmar sentences 153 Chinese illegal loggers to life imprisonment
Embassy in Yangon says it has launched representations over 'too heavy' sentences
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 July, 2015, 11:50pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 July, 2015, 11:50pm
Here is China's reaction - from its official mouthpiece Global Times:
Editorial: Harsh sentence on Chinese loggers unfair
Source:Global Times Published: 2015-7-23 0:53:03
This one, my analysis of the latest development between China and Myanmar -
was broadcast on the VOA English service this morning - UK time -
Transcript of the broadcast:
"China has expressed concern over the decision by a court in Myanmar, also known as Burma, to sentence more than 150 Chinese to lengthy jail terms for illegal logging. The state-run Global Times says the Chinese embassy has launched "solemn representations" to the Myanmar government and describes the punishment as "probably unfair."
Most of the Chinese were given life terms, although media reports indicate that may actually translate to 20 years in jail. One was given an additional 15-year sentence on a drug charge, while two minors received 10-year sentences each. An appeal is likely.
Once Myanmar's closest political and economic partner, relations have been strained with some of Beijing's infrastructure and mining projects deemed environmentally insensitive. China is also seen as providing safe haven for members of the Kokang rebels of Chinese descent. China protested a bombing attack by Myanmar in southern Yunnan province in March that killed four and wounded nine.
Exiled Myanmar activist and resident scholar-in-exile Maung Zarni in London told me (VOA's Victor Beattie) the harsh sentences may have something to do with the red-carpet treatment China gave to democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi when she visited Beijing in June:
Maung Zarni says he believes, with Chinese pressure coupled with a lack of strong support for Myanmar's leadership by Washington, the Chinese nationals will not serve out their full sentences, but will be released early and sent back to China. The state-run Global Times expressed hope Myanmar authorities would consider humanitarian factors in deciding how to handle these cases.