Myanmar Junta Crony’s Firm Named Local Distributor for Huawei Solar Energy Products

By Hein Htoo Zan 7 March 2023

Global Star Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of Dagon Group, and United Amara Bank (UAB) have partnered with Chinese ICT giant Huawei to distribute its FusionSolar line of products in Myanmar.

Huawei and Global Star, which is owned by junta crony U Win Aung, unveiled their partnership in Yangon on Feb. 23. Global Star has become the authorized dealer for Huawei’s solar inverters and batteries.

U Thurane Aung, managing director of Global Star and the son of U Win Aung, told local media outlets at the event that it is planning to distribute Huawei’s solar inverters and batteries to three market segments in Myanmar, starting with household use, then expanding to the industrial level and eventually supplying the products for use in mega projects.

Established in 1990, U Win Aung’s Dagon Group has a presence in various sectors including real estate, construction, petroleum and power. It now has more than 16 member companies with assets valued at an estimated US$350 million, according to its statements.

Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Holdings (MTSH), which is currently chaired by U Win Aung, received final approval from the junta’s Investment Commission for the Gyogone Housing Redevelopment project in January 2022. He is also a director of Myanmar National Telecom Holdings Public Company Limited, which owns 23 percent of the junta-controlled telecom operator Mytel.

Local entrepreneurs who have been struggling to establish a foothold in the renewable energy sector in Myanmar expressed disappointment that junta-linked cronies are swallowing up the market, rendering their efforts to innovate and develop new technologies useless.

“We have been working in the renewable energy sector for a long time for the sustainable development of our country. But these days, we young entrepreneurs without any backing or ties, are left behind while they take most of the market share,” said Ko Phyo (name changed for security reasons), who has been running a company in the renewable energy sector for seven years.

These days, he said, entrepreneurs without financial backing and ties with cronies or the junta are not able to grab chances like the one Global Star has received to become a partner of Huawei on FusionSolar.

Businesses that buy and install Huawei’s FusionSolar systems will be eligible for financing packages from United Amara Bank (UAB), which is owned by U Nay Aung, the son of U Aung Thaung, a notorious member of the previous military junta of Senior General Than Shwe.

Former Lieutenant Colonel Aung Thaung served as a deputy minister for commerce from 1993 during the reign of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), and served as minister for industry 1 up to 2011. Then, with the democratization process introduced by the military junta, he became an MP in the Pyithu Hluttaw—Myanmar’s Lower House—in that same year. After serving a five-year term, he passed away in 2015.

While one of his sons is still the owner of a private bank, his oldest son Moe Aung is currently serving as the commander-in-chief of the Myanmar Navy. After the military coup on Feb. 1, 2021, Moe Aung was appointed as Navy chief, and became a member of the State Administration Council, the military junta chaired by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.

On Feb. 20, 2023, the European Union imposed sanctions on Moe Aung for human rights violations and undermining democracy and rule of law in the country.

“It is not strange that such a Chinese business is making partnerships with such cronies and conglomerates that have ties with the junta. However, people around the world should denounce and boycott Huawei for its cooperation with people with such bloody hands in Myanmar,” said a 42-year-old economic commentator based in Yangon.