The action was the largest crackdown on protesters since the civilian government of President Thein Sein came to power 20 months ago, and analysts say it could hurt the popularity of the president.
'By dealing so forcefully with the mine protests, the government risks appearing to defend the vested interests of the old government. The project is typical of the kinds of opaque deals often struck during military rule that have enriched many of the country’s generals. The military has been so deeply involved in business that it has its own company, the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings, that is listed as a part owner of the copper mine.
The deal between the military and the Chinese company, a subsidiary of a state-owned Chinese arms manufacturer, to expand the mine was signed two years ago when Mr. Thein Sein was prime minister under the military junta.
According to an American diplomatic cable made public by WikiLeaks, the deal was brokered by U Tay Za, a tycoon who became rich through his connections to the military government, especially the country’s former dictator, Senior Gen. Than Shwe.
The crackdown may also complicate the investment picture for China, which has struggled with the perception that it is mainly interested in extracting natural resources from Myanmar, not in aiding its development.'