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China’s “ laissez-faire ” approach to Myanmar coup puts own interests at risk, analyst says – NBC 6 South Florida

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  • China could harm its own long-term interests in Myanmar by taking a “laissez-faire” approach to the coup, said Gareth Price, senior researcher at Chatham House think tank.
  • Anti-coup protesters, outraged by Beijing’s apparent lack of concern for those killed, attacked Chinese-run factories in Myanmar last month, the Associated Press reported.
  • China is a major investor in Myanmar and the coup is emerging as “a major test” for the complex relations between the countries, said Kaho Yu, senior Asia analyst at risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft.

China’s “laissez-faire” approach toward Myanmar military coup could harm the Asian giant’s strategic and economic interests in the Southeast Asian country, a political risk analyst said.

Contrary to the strong condemnation and sanctions of the Western powers, including we and the European Union China’s response to the Feb. 1 shot and the violence that followed was more subdued. Beijing has been cautious and emphasizes the importance of stability.

“But while China can be happy to deal with whoever wields power in Naypyidaw, it is increasingly clear that the chain of events that the coup sparked could threaten its interests,” Gareth Price, senior researcher the Asia-Pacific program of the British think tank Chatham Loger, said in a note from March.

Naypyidaw is the capital of Myanmar and one of the hotspots of anti-coup protests. Security forces used increasingly violent tactics to quell protests, killing more than 550 civilians, Reuters reported.

Protesters, outraged by Beijing’s apparent lack of concern for those killed in the protests, attacked Chinese-run factories in Myanmar last month, reported The Associated Press. In response, Beijing urged Myanmar to “ensure the safety of life and property of Chinese enterprises and personnel” there.

“China’s frustration with the risks facing its economic interests indicates that the coup has become a major test for the already complex relations between Myanmar and China,” said Kaho Yu, senior analyst in Asia. risk consulting firm Verisk Maplecroft, in a March report.

Myanmar-China relations

China is a major investor in Myanmar, a Southeast Asian border country that shares one of its borders. Myanmar is also an important part of the president Xi Jinping’s Signature Belt and road initiative.

“In general, Beijing expects investments in Myanmar to contribute to its energy security, trade and stability in its neighborhood,” Yu said.

“China maintains that an economic slowdown in its neighborhood would lead to social instability and security threats, which in turn would threaten the political stability of Chinese border provinces such as Yunnan,” the analyst added.

Latest data available Myanmar’s Directorate of Investment and Business Administration showed that approved foreign investment from China was around $ 139.4 million from October 2020 to January of this year. Myanmar’s fiscal year begins in October.

Approved Chinese investments were only exceeded by Singapore’s, which totaled around $ 378.3 million in the same period, the data showed.

In terms of trade, China is Myanmar’s top export destination and the largest source of imports to this Southeast Asian country.

But Myanmar’s importance to China goes beyond the economy, Chatham House’s Price said.

“Oil and gas pipelines crossing Myanmar diversify China’s supply sources and help avoid using the Strait of Malacca, a hotspot for piracy,” he said. “And the development of ports and land connectivity between China and Myanmar is also helping to facilitate a greater Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean.”

China could help end coup

Beijing has in the past enjoyed cordial ties with the Burmese military, as well as with the civilian government of de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Yu said. In recent years, international pressure on Myanmar due to Rohingya crisis possesses brought the country closer to China, he added.

Chinese Diplomatic State Councilor Wang Yi would have said last month that “no matter how the situation in Myanmar changes, China’s determination to promote Sino-Burmese relations will not falter.”

But any sentiment on China’s part that it will continue to be Myanmar’s main partner, whoever is responsible, may be an “error in judgment,” Price said.

“If the military is forced to retreat, it may result in a more pronounced anti-China tilt, threatening (China’s) strategic interests,” he said.

Instead, Beijing could help end the coup, a move that could threaten its interests in Myanmar in the short term, but will likely push them forward in the longer term, Price said. Myanmar’s generals do not intend to hand over power but will find it difficult to retain it without China’s support, he said.

“As its global role expands, China should learn to differentiate between different types of authoritarian government and judge its response accordingly,” Price said.

“China must be aware that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ non-interference policy will not win many friends, and anything it gains is likely to be of the less healthy kind.”



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