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China willing to engage on Myanmar coup with billions in investment at stake

A city skyline at night

China has invested billions in the Belt and Road initiative, which includes the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor. Photo by Peng LIU/Pexels.

Published Mar 7, 2021


Cape Town - The situation in Myanmar is being addressed "on an even keel" by China, which means that China is open to talking with both sides to resolve the conflict, according to media reports.

China has reportedly held off from reacting to the recent military coup in Myanmar to prevent aggravating the situation.

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Many people in South-east Asian diplomatic circles believe Beijing views the unrest as a challenge to the country's huge investment.

According to Reuters news agency, the situation in Myanmar, where the military seized power last month, has been described by Beijing as "absolutely not what China wants to see".

"China is ... willing to contact and communicate with all parties on the basis of respecting Myanmar's sovereignty and the will of the people to play a constructive role in easing tensions," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in the Chinese parliament.

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According to Nikkei China, the leaders of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy have previously approved multibillion dollar economic and political investments in China.

Chinese analysts based in Hong Kong agreed that Beijing was likely not pleased with the turmoil spreading across the country after the February 1 coup by the military junta.

China does not want to see "dramatic regime change in Myanmar that will bring instability to its southern neighbour", said Enze Han, a political scientist at the University of Hong Kong.

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There is a "tremendous amount of anxiety in Beijing about the huge stakes the country is facing in Myanmar," Han said.

Although the United States and other Western countries have strongly denounced the coup on February 1, China has been more cautious, emphasising the value of stability.

Despite this, China agreed to a United Nations Security Council statement calling for the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other prisoners and expressing concern about the state of emergency.

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Analysts saw Wang's high-profile visit to Myanmar in mid-January in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, as a sign of Beijing's strengthening relations with the civilian centre of power.

Wang met with Suu Kyi to sign bilateral agreements for a flagship initiative, the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor.

African News Agency (ANA)

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