Myanmar's "Big State Secret"
November 1, 2015 1:00 AM   Subscribe

Global Witness has published a report on the jade industry in Myanmar, a trade "worth far more than previously thought - up to US$31 billion in 2014 alone. That is equivalent to nearly half the GDP of the whole country, which badly needs it. But hardly any of the money is reaching ordinary people or state coffers."

According to Human Rights Watch:
The reform process in Burma experienced significant slowdowns and in some cases reversals of basic freedoms and democratic progress in 2014. The government continued to pass laws with significant human rights limitations, failed to address calls for constitutional reform ahead of the 2015 elections, and increased arrests of peaceful critics, including land protesters and journalists.
Booming Chinese Demand For Jade Fuels Armed Conflict And Entrenched Corruption In Myanmar

Burma jade trade: Former junta members making huge profits while locals suffer environmental effects

As Jade Becomes Rarer, a Thirst for More

There are two types (pdf) of jade,
... two extremely tough, essentially monomineralic rocks used for carvings and gems. Amphibole jade is nephrite, a tremolite-actinolite [Ca2(Mg,Fe) 5Si8O22(OH)2] rock with a felted, microcrystalline habit, and pyroxene jade is jadeite [NaAlSi2O6] rock (jadeitite) which varies from micro- to macrocrystalline textures.
Most of the world's nephrite is found in British Columbia near Cassiar, which was an asbestos mining company town until the shutdown of the operation in 1992.

posted by mandolin conspiracy (4 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
The Soong sisters were massive collectors, in particular, Madame Chiang Kai Shek whose collection was once the largest and finest in the world, rumored to have been supplemented by Imperial pieces. Here are some articles:
auction of oldest sister's pieces
Hutton necklace, jade sourced from Qing Imperial collection, maybe
Jade in the Qing Court
The Stone of Heaven a book on the history of imperial Qing jade including the modern, ugly trade in Myanmar. This book is from 2002.
posted by jadepearl at 4:58 AM on November 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

Hpakant (25°37'00.0"N 96°19'00.0"E) looks interesting on satellite view. Mountains stripped mined. I wonder what the ratio of human to machine labor is today. They were probably strip mining with picks and shovels before the internal combustion engine was invented.
posted by bukvich at 7:09 AM on November 1, 2015

Thanks for posting.
posted by josher71 at 7:02 AM on November 2, 2015

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