On Tuesday this week at the Bangkok Foreign Correspondents’ Club, the environmental watchdog group Global Witness launched a major report into the massive illegal plundering of Burma’s remaining hardwood forests by Chinese logging companies, aided by the complicity of both Chinese officials and the Burmese military dictatorship, and the disinterest of much of the world. More than 95% of the timber shipped across the Burma - China border is done illegally with a nod and a wink, causing a loss to the Burmese people of around a quarter of a billion dollars per year.
As the great forests of teak and other hardwoods nearest the Chinese border are depleted, the Chinese logging companies are moving deeper into the interior of the country. The Chinese Foreign Ministry , claiming that China does not allow its citizens "to conduct illegal deforestation activities and trade across the border." The photo above is only one of many contained in the report which belie that claim. Global Witness also cites the EU for failing to follow through on commitments made a year ago to come up with initiatives to help save some of the last remaining old growth forests in Asia, considered as the most richly bio-diverse temperate areas left on earth. China also made promises in 2001 to address the illicit timber trade, but has done nothing about it. In fact, the virtual theft of this natural resource has increased by 60% since then.
China has been concerned about trade across the border and has been cracking down on drug trafficking and migrant ‘labor’ (specifically prostitutes), so it may seem odd that China is unable to enforce its borders on a trade that is a lot harder to hide.The report notes that China sees illegal timber trade as somewhat of a solution to the growing drug problem."
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