YANGON—Thousands of social media users including some elected lawmakers from Myanmar’s National League for Democracy (NLD) have joined a campaign on social media denouncing China and Russia after the two countries blocked a UN Security Council statement condemning the military coup.
On Tuesday, the Security Council held an emergency meeting on Myanmar, but was unable to agree on a statement condemning the military regime after China and Russia asked for more time to consider it. However, diplomats said negotiations would continue.
Following the development at the UN, a public campaign condemning China and Russia began circulating widely on both Facebook and Twitter, the most popular social media platforms in Myanmar. One post widely shared on social media reads: “We should condemn Russia and China for offering support and shelter for unlawful military government. Loud and Clear!”
Some Twitter users expressed the view that China and Russia always support the Myanmar military to advance their own interests. They called on other social media users to join the campaign.
Another post shared by Facebook users reads: “We should not forget to denounce Russia and China. We need to oppose them as enemies that they are helping [the military] to threaten country’s sovereign and democratically elected government.”
Dr. Wai Phyo Aung, an elected NLD lawmaker who joined the social media campaign, told The Irrawaddy, “We do not accept this unlawful act by the military. As a lawmaker from the NLD, I want the international community to know it.”
“We want these two countries to stand with us as they have influence over the Myanmar military,” Dr. Wai Phyo Aung said, adding, “That’s why I joined the campaign.”
Since Monday’s military takeover, Myanmar internet users have launched social media campaigns opposing the military regime with tags such as “civil disobedience”, “stay-at-home-movement” and “save Myanmar”. Many civilians have posted messages on Facebook asking Western countries to save Myanmar from the military regime.
Ko Aung Myat, a university student who joined the campaign on Twitter, said, “We need international strength to oppose the military’s action. We will continue to condemn China and Russia if they keep standing with the military.”
“We will let them know clearly that the military’s action is totally against us,” Ko Aung Myat said.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called on the international community and key players to do everything possible to ensure that the coup in Myanmar fails.
The foreign ministers of the G7, which groups Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US, along with representatives of the EU, condemned the coup in Myanmar and called on the military to end the state of emergency and restore the democratically elected government to power.
However, both China and Russia have failed to condemn the coup in Myanmar so far. In an effort to avoid using the word “coup”, Chinese state-owned media even described the military’s toppling of the government as a “major cabinet reshuffle”. China’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday rejected any suggestion that Beijing gave tacit consent to the military coup.
Despite the countries’ shared border, anti-China sentiment in Myanmar hardened over six decades of rule by the previous military government, which counted Beijing among its few international allies. It turned to China as its major supplier for much-needed military hardware and allowed the country to exploit Myanmar’s natural resources.
Myanmar is also a long-time buyer of Russian arms and sends officers to Russian military academies for training. Russian Defense Minister General Sergey Shoigu visited Naypyitaw last month aiming to expand defense cooperation. During the visit, Myanmar and Russia agreed that Russia will supply Myanmar with Pantsir-S1 surface-to-air missile systems, Orlan-10E surveillance drones, and radar equipment.
During the visit, military commander-in-chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing praised Russia as a loyal friend that has always supported Myanmar, according to Russian media.
Both China and Russia voted against a UN Security Council resolution criticizing the Myanmar military over the Rohingya crisis in Rakhine state.
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