China’s Role in Myanmar’s Bloody Jade Industry: Poison or Panacea


  • Chia-Yun Po College of Law, National Taiwan University



Myanmar, China, Jade, Illicit Financial Flows, Armed Conflict



Corruption, cronyism, and jade smuggling in Myanmar’s jade industry have fueled racial and regional conflicts in northern Myanmar for decades. Myanmar's military plays an integral role in this process. They act above the law and commit genocidal atrocities to maintain control over the jade industry through financial resources such as jade smuggling, crony companies' jade revenue, and bribes paid by miners, jade merchants and mining companies. Ninety percent of Myanmar's jade travels to China. Chinese culture, corruption, and capital outflows in renminbi drive demand for Myanmar’s jade. Such demand sustains the vicious cycle between jade and armed conflict in Myanmar’s jade business, aggravating human rights violations and environmental destruction in the Kachin State and Mandalay Region, jade-rich areas in Myanmar. However, current international sanctions and recommendations that aim to curtail the illicit financial flows in Myanmar’s jade business overlook the significant role the government of China can play to fundamentally remove cyclical violence from Myanmar’s jade industries. China's demand for Myanmar’s jade undermined Chinese President Xi Jinping’s 2012 “Anti-Corruption Campaign” and the policy of capital control. These political goals have caused the demand for Myanmar’s jade to plummet since 2014 and can continue suppressing demand in the future. In conclusion, to cut off the jade funds flowing to the Myanmar military, the international community needs to boycott all jade from Myanmar and jade products that are made in China but originate from Myanmar. The central government of China must continue its Anti-Corruption Campaign and capital control policy.

Author Biography

Chia-Yun Po, College of Law, National Taiwan University

Chia-Yun Po is a third-year LLM student at National Taiwan University College of Law. The first draft of this piece, “Myanmar’s Jade: The Intersection of Illicit Financial Flows and Armed Conflicts”, won first place in the 8th Amartya Sen Essay Prize competition and was presented at Yale University’s 2021 annual Global Justice Program Conference. The author thanks Professor Thomas Pogge and Dr. Maung Zarni for their invaluable comments and suggestions for revision. The author is deeply grateful to the generous fund from Mr. Tom Cardamone of Global Financial Integrity to support the completion and revision of this piece. No conflict of interest is declared.




How to Cite

Po, C.-Y. (2022). China’s Role in Myanmar’s Bloody Jade Industry: Poison or Panacea. Journal of Academics Stand Against Poverty, 2(1), 35–55.