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Jade trade in China in double jeopardy
The "blood jade" as it is called by Myanmar democracy activists and its supporters world wide seems to be taking on a jaded look what with global financial meltdown and sanctions imposed on import of Myanmar gems
THE JADE trade between China and Myanmar is in double jeopardy. The global financial meltdown close on the heels of the sanctions imposed by the United States of America on import of Myanmar gems has hit businessmen into gem trade in China below the belt.

The tidings are bad for the community dealing in the precious stone. For instance Guangzhou in China's southwest Guangdong (Canton) province boasts the biggest jade business centre for Hpakant city jade from Myanmar but it has been hit by bad times. Jade exhibitions in Guangzhou have been drawing poor response with very few traders either from the domestic or international markets, Myanmar media sources say. This in turn threatens small firms dealing in jade with some contemplating closure or downing shutters in Shiqiao city in Guangdong. The problem has assumed alarming proportions early this month. Other jade trading areas like Jieyang have also been dealt a severe blow. The illegal jade market in Yingjiang in China's southeast Yunnan province is also going through a turbulent phase where it has no customers.

Junta authorities have made illegal trade in jade more than a shade tougher. Officials have stopped illegal despatch of even small amounts of jade from Hpakant to the China border along the Myitkyina-Laiza trade route, media reports said.

At the Burmese military checkpoints troops were said to have seized several trucks loaded with jade over the past three months which were being despatched to the China border. However, the junta officially allows sale of jade only at its emporia organised thrice a year in Yangon, the media in exile points out.

Many people in Shiqiao are heavily dependant on jade business emanating out of Myanmar famous for its precious stones. Residents of the city make a variety of jade sculptures valued at anything between a paltry 10 Yuan to whopping millions of Yuan. Dealing in raw jade has also been a booming business, Myanmar media reports suggest.

Even till the Beijing Olympics the jade business was doing reasonably well despite worldwide campaign by Myanmar democracy activists urging spectators, visitors, athletes and tourists not to touch jade from Myanmar dubbed: "Blood Jade", for it is allegedly tainted by the blood and sweat of exploited jade mine workers and others who have to suffer appalling human rights abuse, not easy to fathom by those outside the perimeters of the country under a totalitarian regime.

Businessmen in China operating jade companies sourced jade from Myanmar and sold it not only to domestic buyers but abroad as in the US, Australia and European countries among others. The markets in the West took a nose dive since the Beijing Olympic Games in August with the sanctions and campaign picking up. It was felt at one stage that the US ban on import of all Myanmar gems may not hit the impoverished Southeast Asian country as it has Russia China, India and North and South Korea among others solidly behind it in sectors more than just gem.
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