China Tells Myanmar’s Civilian Govt to Spare Projects From Attack

By The Irrawaddy 24 January 2022

China has urged Myanmar’s parallel National Unity Government (NUG) to ensure its resistance movement does not harm Chinese investments in the Southeast Asian nation, NUG Defense Minister U Yee Mon told The Irrawaddy.

The Chinese Embassy in Yangon contacted the NUG following a local resistance group’s attack on electricity pylons supplying the China-backed Tagaung Taung nickel-processing plant in Sagaing’s Tigyaing on Jan. 7.

The Tigyaing Township People’s Defense Force (PDF) blew up three pylons, forcing the plant to halt production.

With an investment of US$800 million and annual output of 85,000 tonnes of ferronickel, the project is the largest nickel production site in Myanmar. It is a joint venture between the No. 1 Mining Enterprise of Myanmar and China’s state-owned China Nonferrous Metal Mining (CNMC).

U Yee Mon said: “We don’t have a policy to attack the investments of neighboring countries.”

The NUG defense minister said in the case of Tagaung Taung nickel mining project, the local resistance group carried out the attack on its own initiative because in some cases, junta troops are using factory compounds of companies from neighboring countries as bases from which to commit violence against civilians.

U Yee Mon assured the Chinese mission that the NUG would make sure similar incidents do not happen in the future, but also stressed that foreign businesses should distance themselves from the military regime.

The military regime has been providing security for Chinese investments in Myanmar at the request of Beijing. It has planted landmines near a control center for the China-backed oil and gas pipeline at the border of Hsipaw and Kyaukme townships in northern Shan State, to deter attacks by resistance groups.

The oil and gas pipelines link Rakhine’s Kyaukphyu with China’s Yunnan Province, passing through Magwe and Mandalay regions and Shan State.

Anti-Chinese sentiment swelled in Myanmar following the military coup last February, with many believing Beijing had a hand in the takeover. Along with calls for a boycott of Chinese products, there were calls to blow up the pipelines if China refused to condemn the regime.

China then urged the regime to increase pipeline security, according to documents leaked on social media in March last year.

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