The commander of China's military is visiting Burma (Myanmar), mainly to say hello and sell weapons. China is Burma's main supplier of weapons. This is because Burma is a repressive dictatorship, which most other countries will have nothing to do with. But China, eager for overseas allies, regularly embraces such pariah states (like North Korea, Sudan, Zimbabwe). In addition to getting customers for its weapons industries (which mostly makes legal, or illegal, knock-offs of Russian designs), China goes to the head of the line if there are any natural resources (like oil) to be exploited. Chinese firms can get those mines and oil fields going, and will ignore any calls for embargos. China also has a veto in the United Nations, and can prevent any hostile moves by that organization. This veto is for sale as well. It's just business.
November 1, 2006: North Korea agreed to resume disarmament talks, after China threatened to halt oil and food shipments to North Korea. China is North Korea's primary supplier of oil. North Korea faces another famine this Winter, because food aid has dried up, in response to the recent North Korean nuclear tests. China has also shut down some North Korean access to Chinese banks. This is particularly harmful to the North Korean government, which depends on use of the banking system to keep its currency counterfeiting and illegal drug trade operations going. These two endeavors are a primary source of foreign currency, and the luxury goods needed to keep the senior North Korean officials loyal to the small group of men who run North Korea.
China passed a law, effective January 1st, making it illegal to use the banking system to launder money. The new law forces the banks to keep detailed records of large transactions. The law is aimed at corrupt officials, who receive bribes, and criminal gangs, who have all sorts of illegal money they need to clean up. The law also hurts North Korea, which uses the Chinese banking system to, for example, run its illegal drug operations.
October 31, 2006: Taiwan's politicians still cannot agree on a major arms purchase from the United States. Originally, the $16 billion deal was to include lots of new anti-aircraft missiles. But that has been dropped, and now it's a $10 billion deal, mainly for eight diesel-electric submarines and 12 P-3C anti-submarine aircraft. The politicians opposing this do so for a variety of reasons. Some feel Taiwan cannot afford it, others want to spend the money on other things, some do not want to offend China, and some want to keep Taiwan weak enough so that the pro-independence movement in Taiwan will not be able to achieve their goal. There are also some politicians who want unification with China. Other believe the U.S. will protect Taiwan, so why spend all that money on defense? This coalition has blocked major arms purchases for over a decade. Meanwhile, China is building up its armed forces, with the intention of being able, in the next decade, to block American intervention against a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Many Taiwanese simply do not believe that the Chinese military will ever be able to deal with the Americans. American and Taiwanese military planners are not so sure, but the concept of U.S. military invincibility is a popular one among Taiwanese politicians, and the public at large.