BEIJING (Reuters) - China praised the efforts of a U.N. envoy trying to end the Burmese government’s crackdown on pro-democracy rallies on Thursday, and repeated its own calls for the country’s ruling generals to exercise restraint.
U.N. envoy Ibrahim Gambari held talks with junta chief Than Shwe and met detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi during his four-day mission to Burma this week, but arrests and repression there have continued.
“We give a positive appraisal of the efforts make by the Myanmar (Burmese) government and Mr Gambari,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said in a statement posted on the ministry’s Web site (www.fmprc.gov.cn).
“The Chinese side made its own efforts in order to support the mediation by the special adviser of the UN secretary on the Myanmar (Burma) issue,” Liu said.
China, which neighbours Burma and is one of the country’s few allies and major trading partners, is seen as one of the voices that might wield some influence with the generals, who are facing the biggest anti-government movement in nearly 20 years.
“The Chinese side calls on relevant parties in Myanmar (Burma) to continue to maintain restraint and undergo peaceful means to quickly restore all-around stability and promote internal reconciliation,” Liu said.
But despite calling for restraint, China, which has veto power on the U.N. Security Council, opposes sanctions and wants stability above all else.
Liu said the situation in Burma was more calm and peaceful by the day, a result of “the common efforts made by relevant parties in Myanmar (Burma) and the international community”.
The Junta says 10 people were killed in the crackdown, but Western diplomats believe the figure is far higher. Witnesses say truckloads of prisoners were still being taken from the former capital, Yangon, on Thursday.
China’s assessment of Gambari’s mission was also a stark contrast to that of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said his trip could not be entirely deemed a success.