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Tuesday, September 25, 2007 

The saffron revolution.

Inspiring as the protests in Burma being led by the monks are, it's hard not to be apprehensive of just how the crackdown, now seemingly fully in effect might pan out. After all, there's not just the 1988 8888 uprising which resulted in the deaths of thousands to consider, but also another military massacre from the following year: Tiananmen Square.

China's role in what now happens may well be key. Isabel Hilton argues that China doesn't want to see itself get the blame for another atrocity, especially as we fast approach next year's Olympics, but there's also another factor in all of this, that being the response of China's own population. While apart from the ever increasing number of localised protests there seems to be little national resistance to the nominally Communist leadership, the very last thing that the cadres would like to see is an example of an uprising being dealt with brutally, a potential reminder of 1989 and their own failure to force change through protest. A second bloodbath could conceivably rile China's own sleeping subversives.

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However both Brown and Bush have opened their yaps in public. So the pair will claim a 'victory' if China has a word with Burma and China knows this. Burma can't be seen as the lapdogs of China, and China can't be seen to be at the beck and call of Western powers; hence new reports of tear gas and arrests of pro-democracy leaders.

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