BANGKOK — “May I propose a toast for the long-lasting Sino-Myanmar pauk-phaw friendship.” So said Li Jinjun, China’s Ambassador to Myanmar, or Burma, speaking at an official reception in Rangoon five years ago. Meaning ‘brother’ in Burmese, Li’s remarks alluded to the growing commercial and strategic ties between the two countries – links which Burmese opposition leaders and exiles have slammed for helping maintain the oppressive status quo in Burma, which is scheduled to hold elections on November 7. The real meaning of Pauk-phaw was underlined last week with the visit of Burma’s junta leader Sen. Gen. Than Shwe to China, marking the 60th anniversary of bilateral relations between the two countries, where once again both sides saluted their pauk-phaw relationship
GARHI KHUDA BAKSH — Outside Garhi Khuda Baksh in Sindh Province, men, women and children lie under upturned beds which have been propped up at an angle with sticks or broken-off tree branches. Those I spoke with understand clearly what the disaster that has befallen their country means. “We have been set back thirty years,” said Fatima, a mother of seven ,and one of twelve people seeking shade under a rough-and-ready shelter made from plastic sheeting and bamboo, loosely tied-down with rope and a peg on two corners, running diagonally from top-right to bottom-left.
BANGKOK — Last week, just over fifteen years after the US and Vietnam normalised relations marred by decades-old war, the naval destroyer USS John S. McCain docked in the central Vietnamese city of Da Nang to mark the anniversary. The ship is named after the grandfather of 2008 US presidential candidate John McCain, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam. Commanding officer Jeffrey Kim said that “over the last 15 years, we’ve established trust, a mutual respect, and I know that, in the coming years, our friendship and relationship will continue to become better.”According to a Vietnamese scholar who requested anonymity, the tighter relations are seen as a good thing inside the country. “Vietnamese view the US rather positive as the war is becoming history in the memory of a new generation,” he commented in an email.