China’s role under scanner in Myanmar coup
As Myanmar witnesses brutal crackdown on protestors taking to the street against the military takeover and the arrest of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, there are now reports coming that China has been supporting the coup.
Different charges claim that Chinese soldiers were being transported into the country on flights, or that “Chinese-looking” troops have been spotted around Myanmar’s cities. Various posts on social media platforms in Myanmar claimed that China was helping the military junta set up a firewall to keep dissidents from getting organised online.
According to a report published by an Australian think tank, Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), unregistered flights from China have been landing every night in Myanmar carrying unknown goods and personnel from China, for over a week now, despite a ban on international flights by the Myanmar military.
It has also been observed that Beijing has been playing safe card by giving statements neither in support nor disfavor of the military rule in Myanmar. Chen Hai, China’s ambassador to Myanmar, said that the Chinese government was taken by shock by the military coup in Myanmar.
His remarks came after many pro-democracy demonstrators protested outside the Chinese Embassy in Yangon against this totalitarian change in Myanamr, blaming China for sponsoring the coup plotters.
The apprehension of China’s concealed involvement was exacerbated when Myanmar’s General Min Aung Hlaing’s declared on February 16 that the junta wanted to restart various hydropower projects that had been stalled.
Many people on social media hypothesised that this may incorporate a revival of the profoundly debated and unpopular Chinese-sponsored Myitsone hydropower super dam in northern Myanmar, even if the dam was not explicitly mentioned in the junta’s declaration.
On February 1, the Myanmar Army seized power after alleging fraud in November 8 election and detained several political leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi.
Pro-democracy protesters in Myanmar have taken to the streets, demanding the release of Kyi.
It incited mass protests and global criticism, with the United States already imposing targeted sanctions on the officers who drove the coup.
China’s motive behind organising the coup can be easily deduced as Myanmar’s developing some large-scale projects with India, including the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral parkway, the Kaladan Multi-modal transit transport network and the planned Special Economic Zone at the Sittwe deep water port, China saw its self-serving plans with Myanmar as taking a backseat.
However, under the China – Myanmar Economic Corridor, China stood to gain a great deal, but of the 38 projects that it had initially planned, Myanmar has approved only 9.
China was also worried about the growing influence of Japan and US in Myanmar. The change in the political demographics of Myanmar would play a key role for the development of the Chinese projects that did not see the green flag under the National League for Democracy (NLD) regime in Myanmar.