China and Russia have cast a rare veto in the U.N. Security Council to block a U.S.-drafted resolution criticizing Burma.
South Africa joined them Friday as the resolution failed nine to three - with three abstentions.
The draft called on Burma's military government to release all political prisoners, speed up progress toward democracy and to stop attacks against ethnic minorities.
China and Russia said the Security Council is not the proper place to discuss Burma because it does not pose a threat to international peace and security.
They said problems in Burma are being addressed by other U.N. bodies.
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Alejandro Wolff said the resolution would have been a strong and urgently needed statement by the council about the need for change in Burma.
Earlier, the United States had softened the resolution to try to win greater support, dropping a paragraph that said the situation in Burma poses a risk to regional peace and security.
Burma's military has ruled the country since 1962 and ignored a 1990 landslide election victory by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Since then, Aung San Suu Kyi has spent most of her time in prison or under house arrest.
Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and REUTERS.