Gem Traders Unfazed by Burma Turmoil

Hong Kong jadeite traders say their clientele doesn't care where stones come from, and they have stock to tide them over interruptions in supply
A customer examines jade at the 8th Beijing International Jewellery Fair on July 19, 2007 in Beijing, China. Photo by Guang Niu/Getty Images

After the bloody September crackdown on dissidents, Buddhist monks are again on the march in Burma, denouncing the military government. As the crisis deepens, Western opponents of the military regime have singled out China for criticism, charging that Beijing props up the junta through purchases of fuel resources. However Chinese businessmen in Hong Kong and the mainland provide another, less visible form of support: trade in jadeite gemstones. The export of jadeite from Burma to Hong Kong and China, which has been going on for decades with little media scrutiny, is worth about $433.2 million a year, official figures for 2006 show.

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