Gold is valuable but jade is priceless, so goes a Chinese saying. For centuries, the Chinese consider jade an imperial stone with mystical properties. Today it is coveted all over China as a status symbol, a collectible and an investment.
Demand from increasingly wealthy Chinese drives the value of jade through the roof. At this year's Shanghai World Jewellery Expo, auctioneers put the opening bid for top grade jade items at more than $160 a gram, exceeding four times the price of gold.
Intricately designed pieces, made from top grade jade known as jadeite, are viewed as attractive investments despite the lack of scientific valuation methods. In recent years, jadeite has provided better returns than real estate.
But the imperial stone delivers a death sentence to treasure hunters in Myanmar, where China's jadeite comes from.
Most of Myanmar's raw jade enters a murky black market. Its official revenue from jade exports over from 2011 to 2014 was $1.3bn. But Harvard University's Ash Center estimates total jade sales - including through unofficial channels - were $8bn in 2011 alone, suggesting most of the revenue does not go into government coffers.
The Myanmar government will not speak to us on camera. But our investigations reveal a corrupt senior government official who works with businessmen in the illegal trade of raw jade, including helping to falsify tax documents.
In northern Kachin state, we follow jade smugglers to the remote Hpakant mining town, the source of the world's best jade. The men are part of the government's border guard force. The officer in charge tells us how he pays off army and police commanders along the smuggling trail to China.
Hpakant is out of bounds to foreigners and no foreign journalists have been known to make it there for years. Large mining companies suspended operations here in 2012 after the Kachin Independence Army and the Myanmar government went to war the preceding year, ending a 17-year ceasefire. With peace talks stalling, most companies have yet to resume excavation.
Despite the tension, tens of thousands of small time jade pickers have flooded Hpakant to sift through mine tailings, risking life and limb to toil in harsh conditions, hoping to strike jackpot. Some work alone, others in groups supported by businessmen. Their findings often go straight into the black market, forming the unregulated bedrock of the industry today.
A dark force fuels their labour. Jade picker Aik San estimates 75 percent of the miners have become drug addicts. They get their daily dose of heroin or yama - a type of methamphetamine - from drug dens around town. It numbs them from their backbreaking labour and helps them work longer hours in the harsh weather. With hidden cameras, we obtain shocking footage from the drug dens, revealing the scale of drug abuse that infests the underbelly of the jade trade. We also find a drug rehabilitation centre in Kachin state with more than 50 recovering addicts from the mining town. One of them, Aung Kyaw Moe, painfully shares how his employer paid him and fellow workers with heroin to get them hooked so they would work harder for their next dose.
As the hammer goes down in major Chinese cities for more glitzy jade items auctioned off at record levels, wealthy collectors celebrate yet another treasure possessed. It offers stark contrast to the wretched lives of mine pickers at the bottom of the supply chain, in a land far away.
101 East investigates the jade smuggling trail and uncovers the human cost of the imperial stone.
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i seriously hate this kind of video, you are showing the WEST how pathetic the EAST is? people are starving in the EAST, desperate to survive because of the WEST enslaved the EAST, rob China dry, now critising China's communism society, INDIA's over populated, rape crimes, people are starving to dead and there's 50% food in the U.S go to waste every year.....
I have never seen Chinese journalists go out of their way to expose this or expose that. Why? Because there is a lot of problems in China, and Chinese people respect other countries enough to not judge others. People are just trying to live, don't put a negative spin on it, don't make everything sound complicated that they actually are.
unlike gold, jade doesn't have a market price per ounce and is not regulated like gold.
that's why there isn't a fixated price on jade by the weight, so that means it is worth only to what you think it is worth.
so to a Chinese it can be worth a fortune, but to a westerner it could be worthless. it all depends on the receiving end on how much they are will to pay. what gives these rocks value is the craftsmanship.
shouldnt they leave the jade in the ground where it can protect them the most efficiently, according to an ideology that tends to go with this the earth has energy conduits and such wich can be broken or damaged,so leave the jade and other crystals in the ground where they can work the most effectively
So sad to see the poor subjected to rich drug pushers! My heart goes out to them as well as my prayers..Only The Savior The Lord Jesus brings deliverance from the hold satan has on this world!! Maranatha...come Lord Jesus and bring in the sheaves!!
The ancient Mexican Indians also valued jade tremendously, they would have pieces of jade inserted into their teeth, and when they died a piece of jade would be placed on their tongue in their closed mouth as a good luck token for entering the after life.
This is indeed a reflection of the greed of mankind. However it’s also the result of a weak government, that it is unable to regulated the market for jade mining and trade. Free market is everything that we aspire to, but it requires the right conditions and regulations to truly benefits all participants.
What is wrong with this world. Has it always been this bad and with technology we are now able to see just how terrible it really is. Or was humanity better than it is not. We can never know as most people don't write history.
This is visceral journalism! I am amazed. Not just moved or sorry. Blown away. You REALLY make these several situations in the web of JadeTrade immediate. Real. You are rare and finer than any Jade! All of you!🌺🙏
Bravo! Bravo! Encore!😉
its almost hilarious to think how seriously chinese take their green rocks and how big deal it has become. I wonder at what point they are gonna get interested of gold, like the rest of us. jade has no value outside of china.
it's the same way that Diamonds are valuable in the west when they aren't worth much either. (other than as cutting tools). And they do value gold, they had gold sculptures before western civilization even existed.
MrAnimepredator it's a cultural thing I guess. It's been like that for thousands of years. It carries the same concept as the diamonds. You think diamonds worth a lot, but not really . Company controls the supply of diamond so the value don't drop. But there are much more diamond available. Pure marketing. Or it can even compare it to the painting. Most of the famous painter die broke and their painting are worthless till centuries later. Marketing ..
Jade curse, 'Blood diamonds', 'blood timber', 'Sweatshop labor',,,,,,,,Unfortunately, that is how the world largely operates. It's not funny, but it is real. Should we label our food, 'Blood vegetables' or 'Cursed meat' because people get hurt and abused picking them. It is simple where much, perhaps most of products are harvested.
Myanmar is an ex colony, the MI6 has always kept agents there and they are the ones stirring things up there. Power corrupts, but when they have introduced biometrics into their small and poor country, that is the influence of NWO.
It would be so easy to lift that curse: Legalize the trade, lower the taxe rate to a reasonable level, and drive out all muslims -- who are the real curse, all over the world --, then within short time, there would be no more black market and no more smugglers.
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