January 23, 2008
400 children die every day in Burma from preventable diseases. The only country in Asia that ranks worse in terms of infant mortality is Afghanistan. In 2000 the World Health organization ranked Burma as having the second-worst healthcare system in the world after Sierra Leone. China, Burma's only friend, encourages the junta to let U.N. envoy Ibrahim Gambari back into the country, but also tells the world to back off:
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said China wanted to see stability, democracy and development in the country also known as Burma.
However, Jiang urged the international community to be "objective when viewing the Myanmar situation ... and provide constructive assistance."
China objects to Western criticisms of the military regime, claiming that conditions in Myanmar have improved dramatically since a violent crackdown on peaceful protests in September.
"I don't think sanctions are helpful," Jiang told reporters at a regularly scheduled news conference.
And the story on China saying who, what, and where can be reincarnated has legs:
The issue of reincarnation was highlighted in November when the Dalai Lama announced during a visit to Japan that he might choose his successor while he is still alive. Although there are instances in Tibetan history where an incarnate Tibetan lama is believed by Tibetans to have reincarnated before his passing, the Dalai Lama's statement was still somewhat unusual, and certainly politically significant as an attempt to thwart Beijing's control and supervision of the reincarnation of influential Tibetan lamas.
And Bhutan is still in the news because of its upcoming elections. And along with that comes refugee news. Ethnic Nepalese refugees forced out of Bhutan in the 1990s have been living on international aid in camps in Nepal for seventeen years. Now some may be heading for the U.S.
Why did Bhutan create this refugee situation? The situation may be similar to that of neighboring Sikkim, once independent but now part of India, where the British government brought in ethnic Nepalese in order to influence voting and general control of the country.