Junta Watch

Junta Watch: EV Complaints Channel Opened Amid Blackouts; China Praised for Non-Interference; and More

By The Irrawaddy 29 April 2023

‘Blame the EVs, not the power cuts’

The ‘Givers’ charity provides free electricity for people to charge their phones in Sagaing Region’s Monywa amid power outages across the country.

The junta’s Consumer Affairs Department has become a laughingstock among Myanmar people after announcing that consumers can file complaints if they are not satisfied with their new electric vehicles (EVs) or chargers. The country has been experiencing widespread and worsening power outages since 2021, and Myanmar people are understandably asking where the electricity to charge EVs will come from.

Perhaps a clue can be found in Myanmar’s commercial capital, where the junta’s Yangon Electricity Supply Corporation recently offered to buy excess power from solar panels installed by households and businesses. Desperate to stem the blackouts, the corporation also warned it would take legal action against cottage industries and workshops that operate after 5 pm.

Power outages are worse in smaller towns, where people are having to help each other to cook, pump water and charge their phones and lamps. Fortunately, civil society organizations and well-off families are providing some funding to purchase diesel to power generators.

China’s green light for atrocities welcomed

In a statement released on Friday, the regime’s Foreign Ministry commended China for its achievements in world security through the implementation of the Global Security Initiative (GSI) proposed by President Xi Jinping.

The statement welcomed the GSI, saying its commitments, which include respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity and non-interference, comply with Myanmar’s foreign policy. The junta’s positive reception of the commitments comes as no surprise. After all, the initiative will allow it to continue committing atrocities against civilians with impunity.

Historically, Myanmar has pursued an independent and non-aligned foreign policy. But the foreign policy under the current regime can hardly be called a non-aligned approach, given that Myanmar calls Russian President Vladimir Putin a world leader contributing to global peace even after his military invasion of Ukraine. In reality, it’s a foreign policy that favors the junta’s best friends – China and Russia.

Mobilising students

Young students visit a Myanmar Navy ship as part of basic military training on April 24.  / cincds

The junta’s Air Force, which has killed hundreds of civilians and destroyed numerous houses in its indiscriminate airstrikes, has joined the Navy in providing military training to over 1,300 basic education students across the country since April 24.

The training courses led by regional commanders and airbase commanders will continue through the third week of May. Trainees will visit the Russia-assisted nuclear information center in Yangon, tour warships, and fly on Grob-120, Y-12 and H-120 helicopters.

Observers say the regime is planning to use young people as an auxiliary force in its multi-front war.

Regime high-ups head to Beijing

The junta’s Religious Affairs and Culture Minister Ko Ko attends a meeting of the Asian Alliance for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in China on April 24-25. / MWD

In 2022, Myanmar’s military regime made only one ministerial-level visit to China – a trip by then foreign minister Wunna Maung Lwin. Things have changed dramatically this year, with this week alone bringing separate visits to China by the junta’s religious affairs and culture minister, and its agriculture and livestock minister.

The junta’s minister of electric power, Thaung Han, also flew to Beijing in the third week of March, seeking help amid the energy crisis facing the regime. Agriculture minister Min Naung, meanwhile, was in the Chinese capital chasing the national objective adopted by junta boss Min Aung Hlaing, to ensure food security. The visits reflect improved ties with China, a long-time friend of successive Myanmar junta regimes, after Beijing initially distanced itself from the military following its coup in 2021.

Junta chief meets with ex-UN Secretary General in Naypyitaw

Ban Ki-moon and his delegation arrive in Naypyitaw on Sunday. / Myawady

Ban Ki-moon made a flying visit to Myanmar Sunday and Monday, but failed to meet with jailed former leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Read more here.