Despite strong civilian resistance, the military junta still controls Myanmar and China has also extended diplomatic and military support to the army leaders, Europe Asia Foundation reported.
The junta takeover in Myanmar will complete its second year in February and in those time periods State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other senior civilian leaders were arrested and also witnessed support from China.
According to an intergovernmental not-for-profit organisation, Myanmar saw a wave of protests and all sections of Myanmar society participated in it. The demonstrations have morphed into an armed struggle against the military in the past two years.
And in such a situation, China's support came as a relief for the Myanmar Junta. Immediately after the coup, the Chinese official media played down the political developments as nothing more than a cabinet reshuffle in which a set of "new union ministers [was] appointed for 11 ministries while 24 deputy ministers were removed". This raises pertinent questions about China's interests in the political developments of Myanmar, the report said.
Beijing extended diplomatic support to the Myanmar military. For instance, in April 2021, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, in his interactions with his Thailand and Brunei counterparts, urged ASEAN members to 'fend off external interference' and ensure a 'soft landing' of the situation in Myanmar, as per the report in Europe Asia Foundation.
Moreover, while the rest of the international community hesitated to interact with the military known as Tatmadaw leadership, in 2021, Myanmar's foreign minister travelled to China to interact with his counterpart. Subsequently, in July 2022, China's Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, attended the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) meeting in Myanmar.
Even militarily, China had extended its support to Myanmar. In December 2021, China provided Myanmar with a 'Ming-class' diesel-electric submarine. At the moment, there is no clarity if the Myanmar navy has agreed to the conditionality of allowing the presence of Chinese technicians onboard.
Even the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Myanmar, in his report, noted that China, along with others such as Russia, has transferred weapons systems to Myanmar "with the full knowledge that they would be used to attack civilians".
Understandably, China's sustained diplomatic and military support to the Tatmadaw aggravated the anti-Chinese sentiment in Myanmar, Europe Asia Foundation reported.
Notwithstanding this growing anti-Chinese sentiment in Myanmar, it is unlikely that Beijing will scale down or alter the trajectory of its engagement because Myanmar is a vital land route to access and increase the Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean region. Further, the Tatmadaw dependence on China's diplomatic and military support considerably expands Beijing's influence in continental Southeast Asia.
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