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🇲🇲 Myanmar's Jade Curse | 101 East

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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. More from 101 East on: YouTube - http://aje.io/101eastYouTube Facebook - http://facebook.com/101east Twitter - http://twitter.com/aj101east Instagram - http://instagram.com/aj101east Website - http://aljazeera.com/101east
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Text Comments (125)
Hans (2 months ago)
that sounds too risky for him returning to jade mining after 3 months. Where drugs are everywhere in his old environment and people using around him. wish him the best tho hope he makes it
linggiman (3 months ago)
Quality journalism..Please be save out there
War ra (3 months ago)
Greedy alert = curse i have no attention to jewelry but jade calls me out. that's way i have to avoid Jade for my inner peace.
Batusai Jack (3 months ago)
Looks like a glimmer of Green
Jeffrey Tan (4 months ago)
Tachilek Myanmar is also a famous place for drug trafficking these whole area in south east Asia is curse full of greed and sinful act of men
Boa (4 months ago)
This journalist is amazing. I hope he’s getting paid well.
Mandy M (4 months ago)
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.....
Princess D (4 months ago)
I didn't know that there are so many fake jade in the market. I wonder if the ones i bought from China and HK were real!!!
WalkIt_ LikeYouTalkIt (4 months ago)
I'm sorry BUT... I can see what the fuss is all about! That stone is incredible!
Teresa T (4 months ago)
Blood jades
Jia Rong Huang (4 months ago)
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.
WalkIt_ LikeYouTalkIt (4 months ago)
Jia Rong Huang When the cost of "just trying to live" causes you to risk your life... It's a problem that should be judged AND exposed! That's not living in my book, that's simply existing!
tomeutm tm (4 months ago)
it look so un-safe there and illegal operation is everywhere. but its attracting me to go there.
exas4791 (4 months ago)
This is depressing.
Michael Chau (4 months ago)
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.
Lee Bdst (5 months ago)
That's why earth quake are happening
Senile Pile (5 months ago)
with china and all its stolen designs and fakes it would be a good payback if someone would find a way to make truly realistic FAKE jade as finished products
WalkIt_ LikeYouTalkIt (4 months ago)
dr. Nutcase Someone already has... THAT someone is called CHINA!!!
ROBZTA M (6 months ago)
I clicked on this video thinking it was going to be about a real curse
Adork Able (6 months ago)
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
San Htun (6 months ago)
A good documentary. close to reality.
Michael Misinonile (6 months ago)
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!!
vigilantern (7 months ago)
Well done.
Morris Ekstrand (7 months ago)
Really dont see how Jade can be valuable, i mean i would never find one of those pretty in my apt.
Koko Zarwue (6 months ago)
Morris Ekstrand dame 😂😂😂
Barbara Stepien-foad (7 months ago)
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.
kyaw win Maung (7 months ago)
This is funny- the airline that reporter took is called, Air Bagan- and its owned by Mr. Tay Za- he also own the largest jade mine in Kachin State- LOL
kyaw win Maung (7 months ago)
great documentary !
Penfold t (7 months ago)
Shows how corrupt their government and military are.
Positive Aussie (7 months ago)
That was amazing. I live in Australia and we have no clue that this is going on. Well, we don't care about Jade I guess.
Ye Bol act (7 months ago)
Stone still,,,,but what about wild 🐈
Ye Bol act (7 months ago)
Wild 🐈 trade,,,, HmmMmm
Wentian Zhang (8 months ago)
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.
A Lil Kangaroo (8 months ago)
Dammit jade and drugs are my favorites
A Lil Kangaroo (8 months ago)
Cool that Steve grew a goatee
Awn Ja Lu (8 months ago)
thz u so much for this video.
Dennis Fu (8 months ago)
‘Drug infested mines’? So mines are full drugs. Stupid
Mike G (9 months ago)
China must be distroyed
Camilla Johansson (26 days ago)
Racists must be destroyed!
Mike G (9 months ago)
Thailand is 100 times worse they target westerners and kill them or leave them homeless as well
Awesome documentary....!
Mike G (9 months ago)
Moogy Banna Hilstopaflingon Thailand is more dangerous
Mr. Schurr (9 months ago)
thank you for this.. simply.. leaving me speechless.
Duncan Bleak (10 months ago)
Fascinating and informative!
kisslu (10 months ago)
This is also Myanmar....LOL....
Richard's World Traveler (10 months ago)
All of this for an interesting looking rock.
kyaw win Maung (3 months ago)
yeah stupid rock
Jitendra Singh (11 months ago)
Thank you Aljazeera,, more episodes waiting,, but its too good
bob marley (1 year ago)
Chineses ethnic in MYNMAR DEAL WITH DRUGS.
bob marley (1 year ago)
In china is full of faked and low quality jade.
AnarchyJesus (6 months ago)
yo mama is evil
Mike G (9 months ago)
bob marley China is evil
Ade Fegan (1 year ago)
strange how there is so little jade on ebay .. when you see tons of the stuff piled up like this
Alex Howen (1 year ago)
only chinese like green stone
A b ë ê R عبير (10 months ago)
Alex Howen not true I'm not Chinese and love green stones..
A S (1 year ago)
Good Luck to the addicts ... humans surviving on the edge
Gavrilo King (1 year ago)
This reporter has so many balls - talk about fearless!
Enso ,LLC (1 year ago)
Still can't believe I made it out East Asia alive. I'm grateful.
Great Neck (1 year ago)
19:15 "he came 2 in his class" .. #5
Pat Stokes (1 year ago)
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.
contr4dixion (11 months ago)
Pat Stokes I say it's technology... Ever since the invention of trade and money....
Memorable Name (1 year ago)
Using drugs is wrong, but the jade industry is good for poor people
Amber Branks (1 year ago)
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!😉
Amber Branks (1 year ago)
It seems to me communism lost the ideal out the gate. Just a ditch for graft& greed! **thinking on CN
Amber Branks (1 year ago)
It seems to pollute all around and involved with it. Socialism. The basic idea is alright I suppose. But it'll never work as long as people are people!
epifanny (1 year ago)
I hope that guy manages to stay off drugs
Cam Bousfield (3 months ago)
epifanny me too but I have this sick feeling in my gut that him and his kid going back was a bad idea
Brandon Dacutanan (1 year ago)
The power of drug this is why duterte in PH was right
Ghiffary 14 (1 year ago)
Sensor his face but showing his number vehicle lol..
Beach Bum (1 year ago)
Jade and Greed
Keith X (1 year ago)
Seems like every country that has great resources are cursed. Sad They need someone like Duterte. " you mess up my country, I will kill you "
Ash2theB (1 year ago)
The Diamond of the East.
Rose Meko (1 year ago)
watching this video is so sad
Dennett Shane (1 year ago)
Camera person has an eye for good shots. I thought it was funny how the reporter asked those jade traders three times in a row if they had paid taxes. The dude looks like he clammed up pretty quick.
Billy Corners (1 year ago)
Id be horrified to bring my son into that trade knowing how easy it is to get hooked on heroin eventually.
J L (1 year ago)
18:34 giant bug on that guy's shoulders lol
contr4dixion (11 months ago)
J L that's pretty small...
Eric Kirimi (1 year ago)
It's so sad to see the extent people go cause of greed. It's also reassuring to see their resilience in the midst of so much negative forces.
MakeMoneyHobby.com (1 year ago)
r Negoro (1 year ago)
If I'm not wrong pigeon blood is also available there.
Ruslan Volkonsky (1 year ago)
The journalist has a Singaporean/Malaysian accent when he speaks English and Mandarin.
7RQ89 (1 month ago)
It will be dangerous for journalist like Chan to go Myanmar again. Nevertheless, this is professional journalistic work.
Hoang Nguyen (5 months ago)
regardless, he's hot.
contr4dixion (11 months ago)
Ruslan Volkonsky More like a Cantonese accent actually. Possibly from Hong Kong.
MrAnimepredator (1 year ago)
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.
worfoz (4 months ago)
And Pokemon cards are valuable too. Only because some small, inexperienced and very stupid people (usually called "children") want to catch them all.
Ehsas Amim (6 months ago)
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.
contr4dixion (11 months ago)
MrAnimepredator Uhh... Chinese have always been interested in gold alongside Jade. Much like diamond...
Keith X (1 year ago)
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 ..
Ame Tamashi (1 year ago)
Addicted to Aljazeera Documentaries! Wow the risks you guys are taking!
J K (1 year ago)
Ame Tamashi me too!
nunchaku101 (1 year ago)
Risks yes but they are still working for NWO and still trying to make some poor Burmese pay tax, and showing that guys face like that could get him in trouble.
Heinrich Muller (1 year ago)
I love jade.... though heroin makes more money lol The miners got there "go fuel" & "no go fuel"
hassan saeed omer (1 year ago)
I like so much abt it.
Alaffia Rose (1 year ago)
consumerism is amazing.....we keep taking to feed it.
goldsilverandiamonds (1 year ago)
Communism is far worse.
I love jade 💚
蒋敏 (1 year ago)
Myanmar natural raw jadeite stone wholesale online store(https://www.facebook.com/Myanmarroughjade)
OHM-968692 (2 years ago)
Great documentary
Lorelai (2 years ago)
It's not a testament to the value of jade. It's a testament to the greed of man.
John Mgtow (5 months ago)
greed of women
Sean Hobbs (6 months ago)
Hmmmm I wonder who the 7 are???
Sean Hobbs (6 months ago)
Henry L 58 to 7. Ouch
Henry L (1 year ago)
Lorelai So are ruby, diamond, sapphire, and opal. I haven't met a man who isn't greedy
Maya Haynes Afgin (3 years ago)
Why would the boss get them addicted to heroin? Wouldn't that just slow them down and stop them from working all together... Meth, yeah, they can work 24/7, but heroin makes you pass out, right?
mike lights (1 year ago)
Maya Haynes Afgin thats their relax drug most of the time, they use it to come down from amphetamines
張五飛 (3 years ago)
+Maya Haynes Afgin not right Heroin can be energizing and it will take away any labor pains you might get with long hours and hard work
English Man (3 years ago)
English Man (3 years ago)
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.
Colin Yuan (10 months ago)
it was true since the beginning of human beings.
Oliver greene Bobo (1 year ago)
are poor people being killed for food?> this is why i dont buy nothing from mainstream society, 5 finger discount is the only way to retaliate against these corporate capitalist bloodsuckers.
Prabhakar Singh (1 year ago)
on "blood flower" see, http://static1.squarespace.com/static/53fe85a0e4b0516a0c4fed1a/t/5411b49ce4b0bf02ce474586/1410446492037/06-Singh.pdf
money and power corruption in action !
nunchaku101 (1 year ago)
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.
Darwin Sujaya (3 years ago)
I am a fan of this 101 East Please more episodes... :)
Ayunita A. Buda (1 year ago)
Big up Steve!
Alvaro Laureano (1 year ago)
<3 Steve Chao
schlagerhansi (3 years ago)
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.
Tayyab Khan (10 months ago)
wow u have all the answers to this world s problem!

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