Burma

Chinese Embassy Makes Contact With Myanmar’s Shadow Government

By The Irrawaddy 8 April 2021

The Chinese Embassy in Myanmar has for the first time spoken with members of a committee representing elected lawmakers from the ousted National League for Democracy (NLD) government, amid Beijing’s repeated calls for all parties in its southern neighbor to seek a political resolution to the current crisis through dialog.

Multiple sources confirmed to The Irrawaddy that a counselor from the embassy in Yangon spoke by phone with members of the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) last week. (The Pyidaungsu Hluttaw is Myanmar’s Union Parliament.) Founded by NLD lawmakers following the February coup as a challenge to the legitimacy of the military regime, the CRPH enjoys popular support both domestically and overseas.

The phone call is the first contact between Chinese officials and lawmakers from the ousted NLD government since the Feb. 1 military takeover. The CRPH previously demanded to meet with officials from Beijing.

During the phone call, the two sides discussed the turmoil that has engulfed Myanmar since the military takeover.

The Irrawaddy has learned that the CRPH demanded China back the efforts of the committee and the Myanmar people to bring down the coup leaders and restore civilian rule to the country.

During the call, the counselor reiterated the Chinese ambassador’s earlier comments that the current situation is not what China wants to see, and expressed concern for the safety of Chinese citizens and investments in Myanmar amid the escalating violence.

The Chinese official reminded the CRPH members that those investments were approved under the NLD government.

In March, Chinese government mouthpiece Global Times claimed Myanmar protesters were responsible for attacks that damaged 32 China-backed factories in Yangon’s Hlaingtharyar Industrial Zone. Protesters denied the allegation, saying the attacks were a plot by the military to justify harsher crackdowns.

The Chinese counselor did not state clearly whether Beijing sought a mediation role in any dialog between the parties involved. However, the official said Beijing wanted to open a communication channel with the CRPH.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in March that China would not change its course of promoting bilateral friendship and cooperation, no matter how the situation evolves in Myanmar. He said Beijing would however try to bring about reconciliation by engaging with all relevant parties in the country.

Following the coup, the CRPH sent at least three letters to Beijing demanding the Chinese government stand with the Myanmar people and not back the military regime.

Last week, the US called on China to use its influence to hold to account those responsible for the coup, saying Beijing could certainly do more, given its considerable leverage in Myanmar.

China has failed to take a strong stand against the coup in Myanmar. Amid demands from pro-democracy groups in the country that the international community apply “serious pressure” on the junta, Beijing has repeatedly blocked the UN Security Council (UNSC)’s attempts to take action against the coup leaders and prevent further bloodshed. Anti-Chinese sentiment has risen rapidly in Myanmar over Beijing’s stand at the UNSC.

Pro-democracy activists in the country have called for opposition to all Chinese projects in Myanmar. Some have even called for China’s twin oil and gas pipelines in the country to be blown up in response to Beijing’s stance at the UN.

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