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Wired News on December 16 & 17, 199

Subject: Wired News on December 16 & 17, 1995

Attn: Burma Newsreaders
Re: Wired News on December 16 & 17, 1995

China would welcome Burma's membership of ASEAN

      RANGOON, Dec 16 (Reuter) - China would welcome the inclusion of
neighbouring Burma in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a
Chinese official said. 

    ``The People's Republic of China would welcome Myanmar's (Burma's) entry
into ASEAN,'' China's ambassador to Burma, Chen Baoliu, said late on Friday. 

    ``All ASEAN members are close friends of China. Therefore Myanmar's entry
into ASEAN will not affect existing Sino-Myanmar relations at all,'' she told

    ASEAN, which groups Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia,
Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam wants the three other southeast Asian
countries, Burma, Cambodia and Laos to eventually join the group. 

    Burmese Prime Minister General Than Shwe attended an ASEAN summit meeting
in Bangkok on Friday. It was the first time a Burmese head of state had
attended an ASEAN leaders' meeting. 

    Burma's military government, criticised by many Western governments for
alleged human rights abuses, has close relations with China. 

    Chen said trade between China and Burma had increased 18 percent this
year and China wanted to promote its foreign relations in the Asia-Paific
region in general. 

05:01 12-16-95

Burma sets sights on active ASEAN membership

      BANGKOK, Dec 17 (Reuter) - Burma is keen to become a full member of the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) but realises economic reforms
are needed beforehand, Foreign Minister Ohn Gyaw said. 

    In an interview with The Nation newspaper published on Sunday, he said
rushing to join could be counter-productive. 

    Burma, for decades firmly isolationist and non-aligned, took the first
step towards membership of the seven-member ASEAN in July when it acceded to
the group's founding treaty. It is likely to become an observer next year,
ASEAN officials said. 

    Burmese Prime Minister General Than Shwe on Friday joined the seven ASEAN
leaders, plus those from Cambodia and Laos, at a summit in Bangkok. 

    ASEAN, which groups Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines,
Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, later said it wants the three to join by

    ``If ASEAN is prepared, of course we will be more than happy (to join by
2000),'' Ohn Gyaw said, but added that his country's economic and social
policies needed further reform. 

    ``These are things we have to take our time with. Although we would like
to place ourselves into the ASEAN fold overnight, it would be

    ``We have to liberalise our laws, we have to make arrangements to expand
our trade. 

    ``When we become a member we do not want to be a sleeping partner. We
would like to be very active. We would like to contribute our strengths,'' he

    Burma began introducing economic reforms in late 1988 after 26 years of
rigid central planning. 

    ASEAN economic ministers agreed in Bangkok last week to tighten scrutiny
of prospective members to ensure they could cope with membership
requirements, in particular with their ability to take part fully in the
ASEAN Free Trade Area. 

    Group leaders agreed that under the free trade plan tariffs on most goods
will be slashed by 2000. 

01:13 12-17-95
----------------------end. (fb.12161795.wire)