Authorities in China will investigate allegations of illegal logging in Kachin State which saw more than 140 people arrested earlier this week, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman has said.
Speaking to People’s Daily, Hong Lei stated the government’s intention to bring the issue to resolution, saying, “The Chinese embassy in Myanmar [Burma] is now verifying the details. We are willing to duly settle the issue with Myanmar and safeguard order along the Chinese-Myanmar border.”
Those detained, said to be predominately Chinese nationals, were arrested in an area close to the border with Yunnan. “We want to ensure the legitimate rights and interests of any Chinese nationals being held are protected,” Lei added.
In the face of mounting criticism of Burma’s increasing deforestation, the export of teak logs from the country has been banned since April of last year. However, analysts have suggested that further reforms and greater international cooperation are needed if the policy is to be a success. Continued conflict also poses a barrier; one official at the Burmese forest department has been quoted as saying that continued fighting in Kachin State has made the ban difficult to enforce and fueled the logging trade.