Thu, 05 Aug 2021

Naypyitaw [Myanmar], June 17 (ANI): The decision of China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to recognise Myanmar's military dictatorship earlier this month is likely to be a major leap backward for the South Asian country amid ongoing anti-coup protests, says a new report.

In Yangon, the Chinese embassy issued a statement after the ambassador's first meeting with the junta chief, referring to the general as "Myanmar's Leader", whereas the ASEAN issued a statement which referred for the first time to junta chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing as "chairman" of the junta's State Administrative Council, Nikkei Asia reported.

The statement drew sharp complaints from several ASEAN member states and fueled widespread media criticism about the glacial pace of the group's promised Myanmar diplomacy - including its five-point consensus plan to halt the state-led violence.

According to Jason Tower, Myanmar country director, United States Institute of Peace, it is clear from Myanmar-related developments in the international arena that Min Aung Hlaing has consolidated control over the ASEAN process.

This was exemplified when the Myanmar military released its own five-point blueprint for "disciplined democracy" -- laying out plans for a period of martial rule leading to elections during the recent special ASEAN-China Foreign Minister's Meeting.

Meanwhile, China has undermined ASEAN's already battered cohesion, with the Chongqing meeting illustrating how far Beijing has supplanted ASEAN centrality, wrote Power.

He further wrote for Nikkei Asia that China's response to the Myanmar coup has revealed how far ASEAN's preeminent regional role has been eroded and the new China-ASEAN consensus emphasising assistance for Myanmar's economic recovery is a clear swipe at mediation efforts by the United States by warning ther forms of "inappropriate interference".

China is playing a high stakes game by backing the military junta, with over USD 100 billion invested in a gargantuan connectivity scheme that harnesses the Myanmar economy and provides China's southwest provinces access to Myanmar's gas and oil and an Indian Ocean port.

As opposition to the coup grows amid mounting public fury at Beijing's support for the junta, the National Unity Government (NUG), representing the ousted National League for Democracy (NLD), has signaled a much hardline posture or China's commercial and political interests.

Further fanning anti-China sentiment among protesters was the junta's moves to reward China with approval of long-coveted investment projects essential to its sweeping China Myanmar Economic Corridor, reported Nikkei Asia.

"China may think it has successfully molded an endgame scenario that keeps the military in power at Beijing's mercy. But China's frenzied regional diplomacy is a step backward. Violence in Myanmar will continue, as will the unfolding regional security crisis arising from Myanmar's economic collapse," says Jason Power.

Furthermore, China's stance towards Myanmar has put more pressure on concerned states like Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand to make difficult and bold decisions.

Meanwhile, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) comprising Australia, India, Japan and the US now has a chance to dramatically re-envision itself as a regional security platform that can take the bold steps ASEAN cannot or will not.

According to Power, the alliance should begin by appointing its own Quad envoy to focus on Myanmar's neighbours, especially China, and hopefully persuade Beijing that in misreading Myanmar's stability, it is undermining the regional stability of the country.

The months-long military crackdown on anti-coup protesters in Myanmar has so far taken over 840 lives, according to the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners (AAPP).

Since the military coup on February 1, the army has failed to establish control. It faces daily protests, strikes that have paralysed the economy, assassinations and bomb attacks and a resurgence of conflicts in Myanmar's borderlands. (ANI)

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