The present condition of Myanmar is nothing less than critical.
With the military coup seeing elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi being detained by the state, the country is currently in a state of emergency.
While most nations are condemning the move and the citizens of Myanmar are protesting against this totalitarian change, there have been new developments from China’s end.
According to Chen Hai, China’s ambassador to Myanmar, the Chinese government was taken by shock by the military coup in Myanmar.
Chen’s interview came days after many pro-democracy protestors protested outside the Chinese Embassy in Yangon, blaming China for sponsoring the coup plotters.
“We have friendly relations with both the NLD and the military,” said Chen. “The current situation is absolutely not what China wants to see.”
Beijing has played the safe card in this statement given by Chen; they show neither support nor disfavor of either of the two sides. But even amidst this there are allegations that China might have supported the military coup.
Myanmar social media has seen various posts claiming that China was helping the military junta set up a firewall to keep dissidents from getting organized online.
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.
The dread of China’s concealed involvement was recently exacerbated by Myanmar’s General Min AungHlaing’s February 16th declaration that the junta wanted to restart various hydropower projects that had been stalled.
Many people on social media hypothesized 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.
It’s not clear whether China was actually involved in assisting the military coup, however, China has given no indication whether it is actually for or against it.
Though China has no interest in Myanmar’s domestic form of governance, whether or not it stays a democracy, what remains to be seen is whether China is reaping any benefits from the present condition.
The coup has put a halt to Myanmar’s experiment with democracy, just 10 years after the end of almost 50 years of strict military rule.
It incited mass protests and global criticism, with the United States already imposing targeted sanctions on the officers who drove the coup.
Other nations are required to enforce comparative checks in spite of the fact that campaigners want to avoid a re-visitation of the rebuffing sanctions that were upheld following the military’s crackdown on pro- democracy protestors in 1988, as well as its refusal to respect the results of the elections that the NLD won in 1990.
China’s motivation behind organizing the coup can be easily deduced.
With the Myanmar government deferring and dropping BRI ventures and 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.
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.
One of the stalled projects is the Myitsone Dam on the Irrawaddy River, a fundamental venture for China to supply power to its numerous activities running in China and Myanmar.
China was also worried about the growing influence of Japan and U.S. in Myanmar, not to mention India.
The change in the political demographics of Myanmar would be instrumental for the development of the Chinese projects that didn’t see the green flag under the NLD regime in Myanmar.
This is similar to what happened in Nepal, where China maneuvered to bring forward a pro-Beijing and anti-India government.
According to specialists, it was China that incited Nepal to start a border dispute with India.
And Myanmar will be operating along similar lines if the situation isn’t nipped in the bud.
Myanmar Army Chief Min AungHlaing met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi a month ago in Beijing, and the meeting has been tipped as the prelude to the military coup.
Calling Myanmar a brother, China adulated the Tatmadaw’s (the armed forced of Myanmar) national rejuvenation endeavors.
It was after Min AungHlaing’s Beijing visit, that Tatmadaw authorities have indicated the possibility of a potential coup in Myanmar.
If China gains access into Myanmar’s territory, the latter will be reduced only into an economic spot that will be serving China’s interest.
In the worst case scenario, a situation like the one in Tibet may come into play, thus removing every speck of Myanmar’s own cultural uniqueness.
Before Myanmar lets China become a decisive force it should weigh all the cons, which far surpass all the pros.
China’s yet rumored involvement in the military coup will benefit no one except China, although it’s a difficult nation to resist, resistance to China’s plans will only ensure sovereignty for Myanmar.