fredag 16. april 2021

Will Protests against China Push Beijing to Intervene in Myanmar?

Among the earliest images to go viral at the start of Myanmar’s anti-coup protests was a photo of an airplane unloading cargo. Source unknown, the picture was often paired with a second showing workers moving long army-green boxes from what appeared to be the inside of a plane. Netizens found evidence of nightly flights between the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming and Myanmar’s former capital Yangon and insisted the photos, therefore, had to be proof that Beijing was supplying Myanmar’s military, or Tatmadaw, with arms and ammunition. When the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Myanmar released a statement saying the planes were delivering seafood, it was met with widespread mockery.

Angry with the results of the November election, which saw a landslide win for the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party, Myanmar’s military claimed electoral fraud. On February 1, they seized power from the civilian government, rounding up longtime NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the rest of the country’s civilian leadership and unleashing an increasingly violent force against the public. Hundreds of thousands have since taken to the streets, and the military has arrested thousands and killed more than 500.

Almost from the start, protests against the coup have targeted not just the Tatmadaw, but neighboring China. “China will work with whoever is in power, but the protestors believe that China should not have the liberty or the right to work with [an] illegitimate junta. If China does, it is perceived as China’s support of the junta,” China-Myanmar expert Yun Sun, Senior Fellow and Co-Director of the East Asia Program and Director of the China Program at the Stimson Center, wrote in an email.