Myanmar's military junta yesterday shrugged off international action to punish the regime for its crackdown on dissent, vowing to "march on" even as Japan cut aid and European nations widened sanctions.
State media also insisted there were no political prisoners in the country and criticized a UN Security Council statement deploring the violence used to quell the biggest anti-government protests in nearly two decades.
The response came amid international pressure on the regime to halt its repression and launch talks with the pro-democracy opposition led by Aung San Suu Kyi.
Japan, one of Myanmar's main donors, said yesterday it was cancelling grants of about US$4.7 million over the fatal shooting of a Japanese journalist when security forces put down last month's mass protests.
On Monday, EU foreign ministers approved a new set of sanctions against the junta, including an embargo on the export of wood, gems and metals, and threatened further penalties.
US President George W. Bush, whose country has imposed targeted sanctions against junta leaders, called for "enormous international pressure, to make it clear to the generals that they will be completely isolated and not accepted into the international community."
But Myanmar vowed to resist, saying in state media that: "We will march on. There is no reason to change the course."
"We will remove all the hindrances and obstacles that may lie ahead," the official New Light of Myanmar daily said.
The newspaper criticized last week's UN Security Council statement, which deplored the regime's crackdown on pro-democracy protesters and called for the release of political prisoners.
"The situation in Myanmar does not constitute a threat to regional and international peace and security," it said.
"It is obvious that there is no reason for the UNSC to take action against Myanmar. In reality, there is no one in Myanmar who is in prison for political reasons. There are only those against whom action has been taken in violation of the existing laws," it said.
Last month's protests led by Buddhist monks drew up to 100,000 people onto the streets in what escalated into the most potent threat to the regime since student-led demonstrations were crushed in 1988. But they were violently broken up by troops and police in an operation that left at least 13 people dead and more than 2,000 locked up.
The UN sent Ibrahim Gambari, a top trouble-shooter, to Myanmar after the crackdown to meet junta chief Than Shwe and Aung San Suu Kyi, who is held in detention at her Yangon home.
Since then, Than Shwe has made a heavily conditioned offer of direct talks with Aung San Suu Kyi -- provided she drops her support for sanctions and ends "confrontational" policies.
The regime has also eased its curfew and restored Internet access that had been cut off during the protests.
At the same time, security forces have kept up the pressure on dissidents, arresting six more activists at the weekend, rights group Amnesty International said.
Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy -- which won elections in 1990 but has never been allowed to govern -- said any dialogue with the junta would be jeopardized if the regime continued to hunt down activists.
Gambari called the latest arrests "extremely disturbing" when he met Thai officials on Monday in Bangkok at the start of a regional tour aimed at building pressure on the regime, and called for an immediate halt.
The Nigerian diplomat was yesterday heading to Malaysia, before continuing to Indonesia, India, China and Japan. He is set to return to Myanmar next month for further talks but hopes the junta will allow him to visit sooner.
Also see: Myanmar reveals geopolitical goals
SAFETY RISK: The government is working to categorize countries based on their COVID-19 cases and prevention efforts, which would determine quarantine periods The government plans to rank countries based on their COVID-19 risks to determine how to treat tourists and other travelers from those nations once Taiwan reopens its borders, but it is still working out the categories, a top health official told lawmakers yesterday. “We would divide countries around the world into several categories. One category would comprise those countries with very few confirmed COVID-19 cases, such as New Zealand and Palau. Travelers from the countries in this category would only need to practice self-health management,” Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) told a Legislative Yuan seminar hosted by
China would attack Taiwan if there is no other way of stopping it from becoming independent, Chinese General Li Zuocheng (李作成) said yesterday. Speaking at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on the 15th anniversary of China’s “Anti-Secession” Law, Li, who is chief of the Joint Staff Department of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Central Military Commission, left the door open to using force. The 2005 law is China’s legislative basis for military action against Taiwan. “If the possibility for peaceful reunification is lost, the people’s armed forces will, with the whole nation, including the people of Taiwan, take all necessary steps to
SECURITY CONCERNS: The Telecom Technology Center ran black-box tests for the Executive Yuan on devices and software from Chinese, US and South Korean firms Network devices from several Chinese manufacturers are insecure and allow personal information to be leaked, testing commissioned by the Executive Yuan has shown. A variety of devices and software, including apps, from Chinese, US and South Korean manufacturers that are used by government agencies at the central and local level were subjected to black-box testing — in which the functionality of an application is examined without knowing about its internal structure, an information-security official said yesterday on condition of anonymity. The Telecom Technology Center conducted the tests, which simulated cyberattacks, to determine their resilience to the attacks, the official said. The center
CASH BOOST: Foreign spouses with residency permits are also eligible for the coupons, which can be bought at post offices or linked to digital payment options Stimulus coupons for Taiwanese and foreign spouses with residency permits can be ordered starting on July 1 and can be used from July 15 to Dec. 31, the Executive Yuan said yesterday. Aimed at boosting domestic spending, the coupons worth NT$3,000 (US$100.04) are to cost NT$1,000. “For our consumers, this is a very good deal as they get three times as much value for their money,” Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) told a news conference in Taipei. While the coupons are to have a wide range of uses, including at department stores, restaurants, book stores, night markets, beauty and hair salons, hotels, and to