Myanmar’s Crisis & the World

Myanmar’s Civilian National Unity Govt Thanks China for UN Stance

By The Irrawaddy 24 January 2023

In Lunar New Year greetings, the Foreign Ministry of Myanmar’s parallel National Unity Government (NUG) thanked China for standing by the people of Myanmar at the United Nations, in particular on the UN Security Council (UNSC).

“We [the NUG] would like to express our deep gratitude to the People’s Republic of China for their support for the return of power to the people … of Myanmar,” NUG Foreign Minister Daw Zin Mar Aung said in the New Year message sent to her Chinese counterpart.

In December, the UNSC adopted its first-ever resolution on Myanmar, demanding an immediate end to all forms of violence, the immediate release of all arbitrarily detained prisoners, including State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint, and the implementation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ Five-Point Consensus.

The resolution, proposed by the United Kingdom, was passed with no votes against. Permanent members China and Russia abstained, opting not to wield vetoes following amendments to the wording. India also abstained.

Daw Zin Mar Aung said China’s decision not to side with the military junta, which is violently oppressing the people of Myanmar, “is a proof of the good neighborliness of the People’s Republic of China and the people of Myanmar will always remember … China’s stand.”

She also assured Beijing that “the fruits of the revolution that the people of Myanmar and the NUG are currently contesting will not harm the interests and the long-term stable development of the regional countries, including the interests of the People’s Republic of China.”

She added that “The new Federal Nation envisioned by our NUG and the people of Myanmar will only bring fruitful impacts to the neighboring countries and … China.”

The minister also looked forward to closer relations in the year ahead.

“We convey our earnest wishes that the new year will promote and strengthen genuine Pauk Phaw relations for the people of both China and Myanmar,” Daw Zin Mar Aung wrote, using a Burmese expression coined in the 1950s to describe the supposedly friendly and close relationship between China and Myanmar. “Pauk-phaw” may be translated as “fraternal” but, according to Myanmar expert David Steinberg, it “has a closer Chinese connotation of siblings from the same womb [and] was used uniquely for Burma.”

The junta and the NUG, which is challenging the junta’s legitimacy at home and abroad, are both courting the powerful neighboring country’s favor.

China is a major investor and controls several strategic infrastructure projects in its southern neighbor, including energy pipelines and a proposed port that would give Beijing vital access to the Indian Ocean. China also has leverage over some ethnic armed organizations active near the border. It is one of the few powerful countries, along with Russia, which has engaged with the regime since the coup.

Despite its engagement with the junta, however, China has said it wants to see stability in Myanmar.

The NUG, which commands the loyalty of the vast majority of Myanmar citizens, has committed itself to China’s goal of a shared future with Myanmar and repeatedly pushed China to engage with the civilian administration. It has warned that continuing to work with the regime will damage Beijing’s international reputation and arouse hostility among Myanmar’s population.

China has had no official engagement with the NUG.

In an attempt to please China, junta chief Min Aung Hlaing personally attended a Chinese New Year celebration in Yangon on Jan. 21.

At the ceremony, Min Aung Hlaing said Myanmar and China are good neighbors that enjoy fraternal friendship. China is an important neighboring country and a multi-strategy partner, he added.

“Myanmar is a trustworthy neighboring country that is not two-faced toward China and her citizens and Myanmar-born Chinese people,” said the coup leader, whose troops have killed Chinese people during its terror campaign against the entire population.