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.