Loggers’ release not victory of diplomacy

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-7-31 0:23:01

Myanmar President U Thein Sein granted a presidential pardon on Thursday, which released 6,966 prisoners, including 155 Chinese loggers who were detained in the country not long ago. The freed Chinese loggers were released on Thursday afternoon and were heading to the Sino-Myanmar border.

The 155 Chinese were convicted of illegal logging by Myitkyina district court of Myanmar, among whom, 150 were given 20 years in jail. This is the largest number of Chinese nationals sentenced by a foreign court in recent years.

The Chinese Embassy in Myanmar has lodged representations with the Myanmar government. Yet a Myanmar official told the press that if its own citizens commit crimes abroad,  they will also be punished according to the local laws, therefore, the Chinese government should not intervene in its court decision through diplomacy.

Chinese public opinion should hence not read the amnesty as a "result of Chinese diplomacy," otherwise, we will show disrespect to Myanmar. As a matter of fact, these 155 Chinese are only 2 percent of those released, and some of a total 210 freed foreigners. We can only say that these Chinese were lucky, as they have been beneficiaries of Thein Sein's presidential pardon this year. The president has issued pardons a dozen times since he assumed office.

Of course, these people should celebrate the friendship between China and Myanmar for they have escaped jail after being sentenced. They should be thankful, and engrave the experience in their minds.

Although they have been released, the profound lesson should not be forgotten or written off. These loggers are considered "victims" of illegal labor service companies. China should seriously examine how many of the procedures by which they entered Myanmar and engaged in logging are legal or illegal. 

The 155 people are surely not "heroes," as they have harmed their country's reputation, and caused trouble for their native land. If some of them are indeed responsible for the incident, they should be punished for it.

Despite the fact that Myanmar has pardoned them, if any of them have actually violated Chinese law, they also deserve the punishment of China's judicial system.

We hope this is the last group of Chinese who were sentenced in Myanmar, and we do not wish to witness any more dramas of Chinese being put behind bars first and then being pardoned. If in the future, more Chinese are to be severely sentenced, they should not count on the Sino-Myanmar friendship to come to the rescue. 

Northern Myanmar is a region filled with conflicts between government troops and ethnic armed forces for regional dominance. Such complexity should be deemed by Chinese as risks rather than opportunities in terms of doing business in Myanmar. The sobering experience of these 155 people should be an alarm call for everyone, to prevent the same mistake from happening again.

Posted in: Editorial

blog comments powered by Disqus