Burma

China Calls on Myanmar Junta to Punish Arsonists who Attacked Factories in Yangon

By The Irrawaddy 15 March 2021

Global Times, the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, has called on the military regime to punish the people who attacked garment factories in Yangon on Sunday.

In an editorial the Beijing-based newspaper said, “We strongly urge the Myanmar side to stop these kind of crimes, punish the perpetrators and compensate Chinese factories for their losses.”

The Chinese embassy in Yangon said many Chinese staff were injured or trapped in arson attacks by unidentified assailants on garment factories in Yangon’s Hlaing Tharyar Township and called on Myanmar to protect Chinese property and citizens.

The Global Times said, “The violent attacks were apparently well organized and planned. One twitter account tweeted a warning to the Myanmar military government saying: ‘If one civilian is killed one Chinese factory will become ashes.’ This verified account belongs to the Founder and Executive Director of Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN). This is just one example of inflammatory instigations.” The London-based BHRN was founded in 2015.

The editorial also claimed that China “doesn’t interfere heavily in the Myanmar situation” but “tries its utmost to promote peaceful settlement of the crisis according to law.”

It said, “China holds friendly ties with all parties in Myanmar. No matter which party holds power, Myanmar maintains friendly cooperation with China.”

China’s failure to condemn the Feb. 1 military coup has sparked increasing anger across Myanmar as mass protests against the regime sweep the country.

Thousands of anti-coup protesters gathered at the Chinese embassy every day last month. Fury towards Beijing has grown as China continues to defend the junta, describing the coup as an “internal affair” at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

In response to the increasing anger directed at Beijing, China’s ambassador to Myanmar, Chen Hai, told local media that the current situation in the country is “absolutely not what China wants to see.”

Chen Hai also said Beijing was not informed in advance of the military takeover, adding that China hoped all parties in Myanmar “could handle the current problem properly through dialogue and consultation and lead the country back on track as soon as possible.”

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said last week that all parties in Myanmar should keep calm and exercise restraint, address their differences through dialogue and consultation within the constitutional and legal framework, and continue to advance the democratic transition.

“China will not change the course of promoting friendship and cooperation, no matter how the situation evolves,” Wang Yi said in his annual press conference. Instead, Beijing will try to bring about reconciliation by engaging with all relevant parties, he said.

But Myanmar citizens responded by stepping up criticism of China and its economic interests in Myanmar, including oil and natural gas pipelines, mines and factories.

In February, Beijing held an emergency meeting with Myanmar officials from the Home Affairs and Foreign ministries.

According to a leaked document, Bai Tian, the director-general of the Department of External Security Affairs under the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, asked the military regime to assure the security of oil and natural gas pipelines, following the increase in anti-Chinese sentiment in Myanmar because of Beijing’s stance on the coup.

That drew a sharp response from the people of Myanmar on social media, with some suggesting that whether or not the pipelines are blown up is an “internal affair.”

Global Times said in its editorial that, “China is the strongest country in the region and we respect every country’s handling of their own internal affairs. From a long-term perspective, this basic policy has become an important condition for our neighboring countries to keep their independence and autonomy.”

It continued, “All parties involved in Myanmar hope China will support them, but if China really imposes its own position and interests on the country, it will go against the long-term wishes of Myanmar society. Therefore, even though some people are willing to see China intervene, they don’t have any reason to justify such perspective. Using factories funded by China as hostage to manoeuvres in Myanmar’s domestic struggles will never be permitted.”

The Global Times said also that while the West is now publicly supporting the National League for Democracy (NLD), “they have previously fiercely blamed the NLD for the Rohingya issue. Aung San Suu Kyi’s reputation has changed radically in the West’s public opinion.” China backed Daw Aung San Su Kyi’s government at the UNSC in 2017.

The editorial said, “China respects Myanmar people’s right to handle their own affairs, and emphasizes a peaceful solution under the framework of Myanmar constitution and laws. This is China’s sincere goodwill toward Myanmar.”

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