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Oct 19, 2007 (DVB), International rights group Human Rights Watch has urged China to take immediate and concrete action on Burma, in a letter sent to Chinese president Hu Jintao on Wednesday.
The letter expresses regret that China has not publicly condemned the actions of the Burmese military regime in its brutal crackdown on last month's demonstrations, particularly given its position of influence over the junta.
"Chinese officials have publicly called for 'cooperation' and 'dialogue' between the Burmese generals and their critics, but said nothing when these critics were arrested, 'disappeared' or killed," said Sophie Richardson, HRW's Asia advocacy director.
"Even worse, the Chinese government has blocked most of the international efforts to effectively address the crisis."
The HRW letter also points out that the symbolism of 8 August 2008 as the start date of the Olympic games could be overshadowed by the 20th anniversary of the 1988 uprising in Burma on that day, which was brutally suppressed by the Burmese regime.
HRW called for President Hu to take seven steps, including placing an embargo on weapons transfers to the regime and all forms of military assistance, and supporting United Nations Security Council sanctions or implementing its own. The group also asks that China refrain from using its veto to prevent Security Council action on Burma.
"If China takes a strong stand on Burma now, it will be credited rather than criticized on 08-08-08. Doing so isn't just right; it's also in China's self-interest," said Ms Richardson.
A Chinese official responded to calls by human rights groups for a boycott of the 2008 Olympic Games at a press conference on the sidelines of the Communist party national congress.
According to Chinese state-run media, Liu Jingmin, the executive vice president of the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2008 Olympic Games, said that political issues should not be associated with the games.
"All the political issues that have nothing to do with the Olympics shall not be associated with the Beijing Games. The attempt to boycott the Beijing Games for such excuses is improper and unpopular," said Liu.
Reporting by DVB