Myanmar’s Crisis & the World

China Calls for Dialogue to Restart Political Transition in Myanmar

By The Irrawaddy 2 May 2023

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang on Monday told the UN’s special envoy on Myanmar that the international community should support all parties in Myanmar and restart the political transition process through political dialogue in order to bring peace to the country, which has been ravaged by post-coup conflict since 2021.

During his meeting with Noeleen Heyzer on Monday, the foreign minister said China, more than any other country, hopes Myanmar can achieve stable development as it is a close neighbor, but added that the background of the Myanmar issue is complex and there is no quick fix to its problems. The country is engulfed by violence as armed resistance to the military regime has spread nationwide since the coup.

The meeting came ahead of Qin’s visit to Myanmar, where he is expected to meet regime leader Min Aung Hlaing. If Qin meets the junta chief, observers say, the visit would be another indicator of warming relations between the Myanmar junta and its northern neighbor. Since the military takeover, no Chinese foreign minister has met the regime chief, despite Beijing’s refusal to condemn the coup. Qin’s predecessor Wang Yi visited the country last year to co-chair the 7th Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Foreign Ministers’ meeting but didn’t met Min Aung Hlaing. Chinese government mouthpiece Global Times at the time wrote that Wang’s visit “does not hint at China ‘recognizing’ the current administration”.

However, following the US Congress’ passage of the Burma Act authorizing funds and technical assistance to anti-junta forces in Myanmar, including ethnic armed organizations, Beijing has stepped up its engagement, especially since late last year.

Heyzer visited Myanmar and met with Min Aung Hlaing last year but no progress was made on breaking the country’s political deadlock.

During his meeting with Heyzer on Monday, Qin said China is willing to provide support and help to her mediation efforts for Myanmar.

“We need to act prudently and pragmatically to prevent escalating tensions and spillover of the crisis,” the foreign minister said, according to Chinese state-owned media outlet CGTN.

Heyzer said dialogue can’t change the past, but can make a difference for the future.

China has backed the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)’s mediation efforts for Myanmar and said the international community should promote the implementation of ASEAN’s peace plan, which calls for an immediate end to the violence, dialogue among parties and other steps.

The plan, known as the Five Point Consensus, was adopted in 2021 but the junta has failed to honor it.