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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs    4 July 2012

Burma cancels gem show as fighting intensifies in Kachin state


Due to fighting in Kachin State, Burma has postponed its annual special gem sale in August following the suspension of jade mining in Pha-Kant in northern Kachin State, where fighting has been ongoing for more than one year.
The government halted jade mining at the end of May because of the fighting, after several meetings that failed to reach a cease-fire.

After the suspension, mine workers returned to their hometowns, according to domestic media.

There are reportedly about 400 companies ranging from a few workers to up to 2,000 workers in the Pha-Kant area.

In the April 1 by-election, polling in three constituencies including Pha-Kant Township was canceled because of he instability.

A gems sale was held in July 2011 at the Mani Yadana Jade Hall in Naypyitaw, bringing in US$ 1.5 billion, according to officials. In Burma’s gem emporiums, jade is the most purchased item. On average, a total of about 5,000 gem traders from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand and Korea visit the gem emporiums each year. Most of the visitors are Chinese.

Burma has held gems shows annually since 1964. Since 2004, the gem emporium has become a thrice event annually.

The latest official figures show that in 2010-11, Burma yielded 46,810 tons of jade and 12.962 million carats of gem stones which include ruby, sapphire, spinel and peridot, in addition to 275,688 mommis (1,033 kilograms) of pearl. 

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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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