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Beijing Olympics: China using Myanmar 'Blood Jade'?
Jade from Myanmar's Phakant mines in Kachin State are believed to be in use in decorating medals for the Beijing Olympic Games. Democracy activists from Myanmar had appealed to visitors and athletes to shun what has been dubbed the 'Blood Jade'.

DESPITE THE impassioned plea by Myanmar democracy activists to visitors and athletes at the Beijing Olympic Games to shun 'Blood Jade' from Myanmar, which accounts for a huge source of income for the military junta, such jade is believed to be in use in the medallions to be awarded.

Paying much higher prices than that which prevail in the market, China bought Burmese jade from the Sino-Burma border jade markets much before the Beijing Olympic Games were inaugurated on August 8, the Myanmar media in exile reports.

The jade that the Chinese selected and bought large amounts of were white-coloured transparent jade also called Bra-fleshed Jade or Maw Seezar Jade in Myanmarese rather than coloured jadeites, jade merchants from Myanmar in Ying Jiang, one of the biggest raw jade markets in Yunnan province in China bordering Northern Myanmar were quoted as saying.

The Chinese jade buyers from Beijing and Guangzhou bought typical Maw Seezar Jade emanating from the Phakant jade mines in Myanmar by shelling out more than double the normal price prevailing in the Ying Jiang jade market, jade brokers were quoted as saying.

The Chinese jade merchants paid anything between 200,000 Yuan to 300,000 Yuan for a piece of Maw Seezar Jade which is normally sold for around 80,000 Yuan in Phakant jade mines in Kachin State, northern Myanmar. The Chinese businessmen dealing in jade were on the lookout for the 'bra-coloured jade' for the Beijing Olympics medals since as early as April this year, jade brokers in Kachin State told the media in exile. It is felt that the transparent-white-coloured jade decorating the Beijing Olympics gold medals are Maw Seezar Jade from Phakant, which democracy activists have dubbed 'Blood Jade'.

A Kachin activist group, the All Kachin Students and Youth Union (AKSYU) had urged visitors and athletes before the inauguration of the Beijing Olympic Games not to buy souvenir and jewellery made from Myanmar jade so as not to support the Myanmar military junta, which sources a huge amount of hard cash from the Phakant jade mines where human rights abuses are rampant. The call to avoid 'Blood Jade' was made on an online report, 'Blood Jade' on August 4.

The Chinese had claimed that the jade for the Olympic medal is from China's Qinghai province. In fact, the Beijing Organising Committee of the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) declared on March 27, 2007, that the design of the medals for the Beijing Olympic Games were based on jade from China's Qinghai province not jadeite from Phakant in Burma, media reports recalled. Jade from Myanmar's Phakant jade mines is of far better quality that the Chinese Qinghai jade.

Gems mined in Myanmar accounted for third largest export item by the ruling junta to US and European countries before US President George W Bush imposed severe restrictions on import of gems from the Southeast Asian country. China, however, remains the biggest market for gems from Myanmar.

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