Myanmar sentences Chinese nationals to life for illegal logging

2015-07-23 09:55

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Yangon - China has lodged a diplomatic protest with Myanmar after a court in the southeast Asian nation sentenced 153 Chinese nationals to life imprisonment for illegal logging.

China's voracious demand for Myanmar's raw materials has fuelled resentment in Myanmar towards its giant northern neighbour.

Regions along Myanmar's porous border with China have long been hotbeds for an illegal trade in timber to feed Chinese demand. Much of Myanmar's jade is also believed to be illegally smuggled into China.

A court in Myitkyina, capital of Kachin State in the north of Myanmar, handed down sentences to 155 Chinese citizens on Wednesday. Two of those convicted escaped life sentences and got 10-year prison terms.

All will have a chance to appeal against the rulings, said a court official, who declined to be identified as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

An official from Myitkyina's prison department confirmed the sentences.

China's Foreign Ministry said it was "extremely concerned" about the decision and had lodged a protest with Myanmar.


"China had repeatedly, on many levels and through many channels, made representations with Myanmar about the case," it said in a short statement.

China had demanded that Myanmar deal with the case "in a lawful, reasonable and justified manner" the Foreign Ministry added, so that the case could be concluded properly and the nationals returned.

The sentences were too harsh and may be due to anti-Chinese feeling in Myanmar, the influential Global Times tabloid, published by the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily, said in an editorial on Thursday.

"A few cases of Chinese engaging in illegal business in Myanmar have been scrutinised by public opinion, exaggerated as China's economic 'invasion' of the latter," it wrote.

The individuals were arrested in January in a crackdown on the country's lucrative illegal logging and timber trade launched by the military, police and forestry department.

More than 400 vehicles and 1 600 logs were seized during the raid, state media said at the time.

In June, Aye Myint Maung, a deputy environment minister, told parliament that 10 000 tons of illegal timber had been seized from illegal loggers since January, most of it from Kachin State.

Kachin State has seen an increase in conflict since 2011, when a 17-year ceasefire between the Myanmar military and autonomy-seeking ethnic Kachin rebels broke down.

Ties between Myanmar and China soured this year over fighting between Myanmar's military and another group, the ethnic Chinese Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, along part of the shared border.

Chinese citizens have been killed by stray shells and bombs falling inside China's territory, angering Beijing.

Read more on:    china  |  myanmar  |  environment

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.