Sun, 02 Oct 2022

Chiang Mai, [Thailand], June 12 (ANI): Even as many nations, including the United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions on Myanmar's military junta following the February 1 coup, China has declared its support for Senior General Min Aung Hlaing-led government.

The Great Game proxy theatre in post-coup Myanmar has pitted China against the US in a conflict that is escalating into a regional crisis, writes Bertil Lintner for Asia Times.

Other regional actors like Japan and India and other regional actors struggle to strike a middle ground as they are not keen on seeing Chinese influence grow in a desperate Myanmar.

Neighbouring Thailand is too dependent on natural gas imports from Myanmar to condemn the takeover and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has once again demonstrated incapability of resolving regional crises, writes Linter.

Myanmar is on the verge of collapse, driving out many of the Western investors who had entered the country on hopes of a democratic transition.

Asia Times reported that China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi, at a regional meeting in Chongqing on June 8 told his Myanmarese counterpart Wunna Maung Maung Lwin that bilateral tensions between Myanmar and China have not been affected by the "changes in Myanmar's domestic and external situation.

On the other hand, Chinese officials have also pledged support for ASEAN's diplomatic initiatives on Mynamar's crisis, despite the 'five point consensus between Myanmar's military leader and the ASEAN representative on April 24 has been largely dead on arrival.

In essence, the "consensus agreement" put equal blame on the Myanmar military's gunning down of hundreds of peaceful demonstrators, including children as young as five, writes Bertil Lintner for Asia Times.

Indonesia remains the only ASEAN member that has shown some willingness to address Myanmar's problems and how they are spilling over into the wider region.

On June 2, after holding talks with EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell in Jakarta, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said that her country is continuing to communicate with ASEAN's chair and other member states to demand an immediate end to killings and the release of over 4,000 political detainees.

Meanwhile, China has big geostrategic interests to protect in Myanmar and Beijing has always sided with the political camp that appears to have the upper hand - which is now Myanmar's military junta.

Furthermore, Myanmar is the only country that provides China with direct access to the Indian Ocean that allows Chinese shipments of fuel and other key imports to bypass the disputed waters of the South China Sea and the Malacca Strait, according to Asia Times.

Whereas the US is on the other side of the political divide in post-coup Myanmar and beginning this month, the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM) announced that two of its media networks will launch a 24-hour video channel on Myanmar.

USAGM said the channel will be available on two different direct-to-home TV satellites covering Myanmar and is being launched in response to the junta's "shutdown of independent media and its intermittent blocking of mobile phone services since the military's February 1 coup."Moreover, civil society organisations inside the country and in exile will also get support from the US.

An estimated 861 protesters had been shot dead by the Myanmar military since the coup until June 11, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), an independent rights group.

Security and other analysts argue that neither civil disobedience nor armed struggle in frontier areas is likely to bring down the military, reported Asia Times.

It is in Washington's strategic interest to strengthen the forces that are opposed to Myanmar's military to avoid the country once again becoming a dependent client of China.

Myanmar authorities have recently arrested a total of 638 suspects for committing terror acts and illegally possessing firearms, state-run media reported Friday.

The report said that the arrested suspects include 49 people for setting fire, 61 people for murder, 256 for illegally holding arms and ammunition and 272 people for terror and destructive acts, reported Xinhua. (ANI)

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