Myanmar-China Watch

Beijing Seeks Closer Security Ties With Myanmar Regime 

By The Irrawaddy 27 March 2023

China’s ambassador to Myanmar Chen Hai has called on the junta to step up security cooperation with his country, including collaboration between the two police forces.

He made the appeal while meeting with the junta’s deputy prime minister and home affairs minister Soe Htut on Thursday to discuss security matters, border issues, and future cooperation, according to junta media. The meeting was also attended by deputy home affairs minister and deputy military intelligence chief Toe Yi.

However, the scope and details of future cooperation between the two police forces were not made clear.

Chen Hai urged Soe Htut to step up efforts to combat cross-border crime, online fraud, and gambling, according to the South China Morning Post, which cited the Chinese embassy in Myanmar.

In Myanmar, Chinese-run criminal gangs based near the Thai border are operating telecoms scams and luring workers from China by promising high-paying jobs.

Chen said these illegal activities harmed the interests and safety of Chinese people and undermined social stability and order. He urged Myanmar to take the matter seriously and work closely with China to combat the crimes and create a “clean” environment for friendly cooperation between the two countries, South China Morning Post reported.

In response, Soe Htut said Myanmar was aware of the damage caused by these criminal activities and had already stepped up efforts to tackle the problems.

China distanced itself from Myanmar’s military regime following the coup in February 2021, but bilateral relations have improved significantly since Beijing appointed a new special envoy to Myanmar in December.

Special envoy Deng Xijun has been busy brokering talks between the junta and powerful ethnic armed organizations along the border, with China seeking both to resume its projects in Myanmar and make new investments even as the international community imposes tighter sanctions.

Anti-China sentiment in Myanmar remains high due to its closer ties to the regime and observers say that the Chinese ambassador met the junta’s home affairs minister to ensure the security of its investments in Myanmar. These include such megaprojects as a deep-sea port in Rakhine State’s Kyaukphyu in western Myanmar, the Letpadaung copper mine in Salingyi Township in central Myanmar, and oil and gas pipelines that run through Rakhine, Mandalay and Shan State.

According to the Institute for Strategy and Policy, 7,800 clashes have taken place since the coup, with at least 300 of these near Chinese projects or in areas where Chinese projects are located.

Chen Hai stated in a recent article penned for the junta-controlled Kyemon Daily that the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation Special Fund is funding 92 projects in Myanmar.

The Chinese ambassador also met junta-appointed foreign minister Than Swe on Thursday to discuss promoting peace and stability along the border, and cooperation on the international stage in matters of mutual interest.