border review | 13 June 2012

The promise of prosperity put on hold

A month ago, Radio Free Asia reported that the clashes between the Burmese military and the ethnic Kachin Independence Army (KIA) led to a tightening of border control on the Chinese side, which affects the cross-border trade in timber, jade and ruby, much of which is informal. The tightening of control seems to be taking its toll. Last week, Elaine Kurtenbach (AP) reported from Ruili, one of the border towns on the Chinese side:

The legions of gem and jewelry, electronics and household goods shops in Ruili’s export zone are almost deserted. Cars and trucks with black Myanmar plates trickle through the border checkpoint, hauling televisions and computers, construction materials and household goods for which there are few buyers. (…)

These days, the cross-border timber trade in these parts is mostly clandestine, and the renewed fighting with the Kachins is disrupting trading, local residents say.

“When they cracked down on the logging trade, the trucks stopped coming. These days, there’s almost no traffic because of fighting across the border,” said Yang Shihan, 20-year-old grandson of the business’s owner.