China has joined Russia in opposing the UN Security Council’s direct sanctions against Myanmar’s army, and has Restricted its public comment on wishes for peace and stability, while the country’s Foreign Ministry has denied tacit encouragement for the coup.
However, inside Myanmar, unidentified people vandalized Chinese factories, staged protests in front of the Chinese embassy and lit Chinese flags, suggesting that Beijing is closely linked. closely in people’s minds with their own military government.
However, Huang Chung-Ting of the Taiwan Institute of Defense and Security Studies said that the CCP is unlikely to accumulate much because of the growing anti-China sentiment in Myanmar.
Huang told RFA: “As long as China can maintain good relations with the rulers in Myanmar, it can be less concerned with people’s feelings.
China’s interests in Myanmar include economic ties, border security and geopolitical factors, Huang said.
The 2,100-kilometer (1,300-mile) common border alone would be sufficiently worrying, he said, if Myanmar continued to plunge into partisan violence and civil war, he said.
“There are a large number of armed minority groups in the China-Myanmar border area,” Huang said. “This conflict has been going on all along, and relations between the different factions and the Chinese government are becoming unstable.”
“Armed conflict like in the Kokang border area March 2015 China is a headache, “he said. Back then, a large number of refugees crossed the border into China … and there were even stray bullets finding their way through. [the southwestern Chinese province of] Yunnan. “
China’s international infrastructure investment project, the Belt and Road initiative, now covers the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC). Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pointed out that Beijing wants to accelerate the construction of the west, north and east ends of the CMEC.
Earlier this year, Chinese state media reported that Mr. Wang wanted to promote the early deployment of Kyaukpyu deep-water port, China-Myanmar border economic cooperation zone and New Yangon city.
CMEC splits the northern part of the country and ends at a $ 1.3 billion deep-water port at Kyaukpyu in the southern state of Rakhine along the coast of the Bay of Bengal. It includes plans for a $ 8.9 billion high-speed rail line from Yunnan, as well as gas and oil pipelines.
Cross-border security concerns
China is also increasingly dependent on rice imports from Myanmar, with rice imports skyrocketing from 100,000 tons to 500,000 tons over the past decade, accounting for 65% of Myanmar’s total exports to China.
According to Derek Mitchell, a former US ambassador to Myanmar, lingering cross-border security concerns could worsen if violence continues, according to Derek Mitchell, the former US ambassador to Myanmar. president of the National Democratic Institute in Washington.
“There have been many decades of human, weapon and drug trafficking across the border that can affect the stability and well-being of China,” Mitchell told RFA. “If there is a country that fails on that border with a massive civil war and the unrest of its people, that will only make those problems worse: Myanmar’s internal instability will not in water.”
“Really the top concern is that they can control what happens inside their borders, so that nothing outside the country affects how they control everything inside the country,” he said. .
However, he said China may also take steps to protect its strategic investments in the country.
“The Chinese invest a lot in Myanmar,” says Mitchell; Oil and gas … Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects. “They want to use Myanmar as a way to reach the Indian Ocean. An unstable Myanmar can affect all of that.”
“And of course they have factories. You have seen what happened outside of Yangon for their factories, whoever did that,” he said, referring to China-funded 32 factories burnt attacks in several Yangon towns early last month.
He said that while anti-China attitudes are “exploding” amid social unrest, China is unlikely to pay much attention to them.
“People won’t forget how China acted and talked about the coup, and the way they didn’t seem to care about the Burmese people, but only their interests, was very narrow,” Mitchell said.
“They don’t particularly care about democracy, or any value, but they certainly want a peaceful, stable Southeast Asia, by all means they can get there, for their investments. they, for their BRI plans or for their trade, so they don’t ‘have to worry about their borders, so they can focus on their internal affairs,’ he said.
China, he said, is very difficult to be behind any form of UN peacekeeping intervention in Myanmar.
“They use the real UN to prevent the world from entering, to prevent the world from participating [its] “Even if it’s another country, they see that as a precedent for the ability of the United Nations Security Council to get involved in their internal affairs,” Mitchell said. “
“All of us simply follow daily murder without punishment for children, women, and more and more people think that something must be done to stop it,” he said. he said. “But for the UN, it will be vetoed by China and Russia almost certainly.”
The ‘dirty list’ of companies
Irrawaddy, an independent online news agency, on Thursday reported that the Chinese embassy in Yangon spoke by phone for the first time with the country’s “shadow government” of elected lawmakers. from the overthrown National League government for Democracy.
China, which has urged all parties in Myanmar to seek a political solution through dialogue, had an adviser from the embassy speaking last week with members of the Pyidaungsu Representative Committee. Hluttaw (CRPH), a group that receives widespread support at home and abroad, said the store.
Irrawaddy reported: “The advisor reiterated the Chinese Ambassador’s earlier comments that the current situation is not what China wants to see, and expressed concerns about the safety of Chinese citizens. and investments in Myanmar amid escalating violence ”.
According to a group advocating for Justice For Myanmar and information on the public domain, Chinese state-owned enterprises are among the largest suppliers of military weapons and equipment to the Myanmar military.
Justice For Myanmar has listed 122 top business partners of the military government, staging a coup on February 1, toppling the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League. for her Democracy (NLD).
The five largest suppliers listed are China North Industry Corporation (NORINCO), China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC), China Aerospace Science and Technology Group (CASC), China Aerospace Science & Industry Corporation (CASIC), and China National Aviation Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC).
More than a dozen other suppliers are funded from China or Hong Kong.
A spokesman for Myanmar’s Ministry of Justice said weapons supplied to Tatmadaw by NORINCO are being used to unarmed civilians amid a series of protests that took place after the coup.
A “Dirty List” published by the Burma Campaign UK lists 12 Chinese companies with links to the Myanmar military, including most of those mentioned in this article.
Justice For Myanmar calls on the international community to impose comprehensive and immediately targeted sanctions on Myanmar’s military in response to the coup and their continued violation of international law, including including the Rohingya genocide campaign, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the race. region.
Rita Cheng Report to RFA’s Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.