BEIJING, July 23, Xinhua -- Myanmar should consider the actual situation of a group of Chinese nationals, who have been sentenced for illegal logging in the Southeast Asian country, and deal with the matter in a lawful, reasonable and sensible way.
A file photo shows Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang held a regular press conference on June 15, 2015. (Xinhua/Li Mingfang)
A district court in northern Myanmar on Wednesday sentenced 152 Chinese loggers to 20-year imprisonment for violating a 1963 law against destroying public properties, according to the Chinese Embassy to Myanmar.
Besides, one person was sentenced to 35 years in prison while two minors were each given a 10-year jail term.
China respects laws and customs of other countries and always asks its nationals not to break local laws when they stay abroad.
But it is abnormal to impose heavy sentences on such a large number of foreigners for the same offense, and the Myanmar court's one-size-fits-all approach toward the Chinese loggers raises questions on its impartiality.
In fact, those Chinese nationals, arrested in raids on illegal logging that began earlier this year in Myanmar's conflict-stricken northern Kachin State, may hardly know the illegality of their activities before being brought to the country.
As those people might be duped and misled into the country for illegal logging, the indictment against them should be analyzed on a case-by-case basis.
Chinese nationals, believed to be involved in illegal logging, arrive at a court in Myitkyina, capital of Kachin State in the north of Myanmar, July 22, 2015. (REUTERS/Stringer)
Moreover, it is noteworthy that Western media have always played a contemptible role in sowing discord between China and its neighbors, by using specific cases and numbers to create the impression that China is causing severe damage to Myanmar's natural resources and environment.
As a matter of fact, the Chinese government is opposed to illegal logging, illegal mining and illegal wildlife trade, and the country has been committed to strengthening cooperation with neighboring countries, including Myanmar, to tackle illegal activities and protect natural resources.
Regarding its neighbors as a foreign policy priority, China has been striving for years to achieve common development of the region, with various initiatives under such frameworks as ASEAN and the Greater Mekong Subregion.
And it is undeniable that China's economic success has brought enormous opportunities for the development of neighboring countries, including Myanmar, which has seen tangible changes in its infrastructure network and visible socioeconomic development in recent years.
As the case can be appealed to the Kachin state judiciary and then to the country's supreme court after Wednesday's verdict, it is hoped that the Myanmar authorities will take every factor into account to protect the Chinese nationals' legitimate rights and interests.