A CHOICE FOR CHINA
Ending the destruction of Burma’s northern frontier forests
A Briefing Document by Global Witness. October 2005.
THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
The international community bears a responsibility for guaranteeing the fundamental arights of all the people of Burma. It is essential therefore, that the international
community supports moves towards a more democratic and inclusive Burma and the end of military rule. The international community should also encourage the development of civil society through its participation in the decision making process and promote transparency and freedom of information at all levels.
The international community must ensure that its demand for timber and timber products does not provide funding to a regime that represses people who oppose it. It should also ensure that this demand does not lead to an increase in poverty amongst Burma‟s rural poor or to large-scale destruction of Burma‟s northern frontier forests,
the focus of this report.
The International Community should:
; Adopt legislation to prohibit the importation and sale of timber, which has been bharvested, transported, bought or sold in violation of national laws. This
should include timber imported either directly from the country where the
timber was logged or via intermediate countries.
; Establish a working group with representatives from the SPDC, ceasefire
groups, civil society, United Nations agencies and the Chinese authorities to
facilitate measures to combat illegal logging in northern Burma and support
initiatives to promote sustainable development in Kachin State.
; Support independent assessments of the extent of illegal logging and forest loss,
and the extent and composition of the forest resource base, in Kachin State
through a combination of satellite imagery and photography, aerial
photography and ground-truthing.
; Facilitate a forest value assessment for Kachin State, under the auspices of the
working group referred to above, to be followed by participatory forest zoning
(see „Box 7: Forest Values‟, page 28).
; Help rebuild society at a local level in northern Burma through the promotion
of educational projects including environmental awareness, encourage the
continuation of sustainable resource use and protection, and support grassroots
a The military government renamed Burma as Myanmar in 1989 and this name is used by the United Nations. In this report, however, Global Witness will use Burma, and Myanmar will only be used where
it is quoted by name. b It is currently entirely legal to import and market timber and timber products, produced in breach of the laws of the country of origin, into all timber importing countries including China. China should lead the way in rectifying this anomaly.
; Support Thai proposals for the creation of a new „Southeast Asian Regional
Law Enforcement Network to Combat Nature Crimes‟, including measures to c tackle the illegal trans-boundary timber trade.
Timber importing companies should not:
; Import timber, or processed timber products, that have been produced from
wood illegally exported from northern Burma to China.
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE‟S REPUBLIC OF CHINA
The Chinese authorities at a national, provincial and local level should ensure that economic development in China, particularly in Yunnan Province, is not detrimental to Burma‟s peoples.
In relation to the management of Burma‟s forests the government of the People‟s Republic of China should:
; Suspend the importation of logs and processed timber across the China-Burma
border pending a review of the legality of all logging operations in Kachin State.
Make data relating to the importation of timber from Burma publicly available. ;
This should include timber volume, value, legal provenance and details of the
; Help the ceasefire groups carry out Environmental and Social Impact
Assessments (ESIAs) for all current and future development projects and for
any commercial activities concerning the exploitation of natural resources that
involve Chinese companies operating in areas under their control. Such a
process should include meaningful public consultation.
; Abide by international environmental commitments including the Convention
on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
(CITES), and end the illegal importation of Himalayan Yew trees from
The government of the People‟s Republic of China, in accordance with its
commitments made in the September 2001 East Asia Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG) Declaration, should:
; Take immediate action to strengthen bilateral cooperation with the Burmese
Forestry Department, and establish a dialogue with relevant officials within
ceasefire group administrations, to address the issue of illegal logging in
northern Burma, the illegal timber trade with China and corruption linked to