A flurry of recent trips by senior Chinese officials to Myanmar appear to be part of Beijing’s effort to counteract American influence there, but rebel commanders have beleive that doing so would be a mistake because the junta’s continued rule would mean no stability.
China has been Myanmar’s most steadfast supporter since the military staged a coup d’état in Feb’2021. After the coup and a bloody crackdown on his opponents, the majority of western countries avoided junta leader Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, while Beijing supported him in Naypyidaw. Chinese investors have flocked to the troubled country while international investment has fled. Additionally, despite the regime being subjected to international sanctions, trade between the two countries continues.
Despite their support, Chinese officials have visited Myanmar several times since the beginning of the 2023 in what some analysts believe to be a campaign to buy influence after U.S. President Joe Biden signed the National Defence Authorization Act, or NDAA, in late December, which will help the country’s democratic forces.It appears that China is concerned about the NDAA and Burma Act of the United States. It has, therefore, made an effort to keep up its sway by communicating more with military authorities.
Programmes to aid those battling Myanmar’s better-equipped military for democracy, including the country’s shadow National Unity Government, anti-junta People’s Defence Force paramilitary group, and various ethnic armies, with technology and non-lethal assistance are among the NDAA’s provisions.
In the most recent high-profile visit, Peng Xiubin, the Director of the Communist Party of China’s International Liaison Department, went to Naypyidaw on April 16 and met in secret with Than Shwe, the former head of the junta that ruled Myanmar from 1992 to 2011and Thein Sein, the President of the country’s quasi-civilian government from 2011 to 2016. Deng Xijun, Special Envoy remains busy with FPNCC meetings in Northern Myanmar and followed by briefings in Kunming. Chinese Foreign Minister, Qin Gang has been on official visit (May 2) to Myanmar, although it sounds routine visit but China always means business. He too interacted with Gen Than Shwe and Min Aung Hlaing.
Peng’s journey came after trips by Deng Xijun, China’s special envoy for Asian Affairs, who met with the junta leader on both occasions, in February and March. Only two months prior, in the Yunnan province of southwestern China, the Chinese envoy organised a meeting with several ethnic armies from northern Myanmar across the border.
Political analysts & Ex-Military Commanders view the increase in meetings between the Junta and Chinese officials as an effort by Beijing to “ balance U.S. influence” in the region as the United States is no longer the only nation influencing the world.The necessity for closer cooperation between Myanmar and China who shares a approx. 2200 Kms long border, is one of these shifts in global politics and relations between China and Myanmar will be cemented further.
On the sidelines China is projecting Myanmar as a “ good neighbour,” adding that Beijing is closely monitoring the situation there and hopes for a resolution through discussion and consultation among all parties. China knows only a peaceful Myanmar will allow China to pursue its interests there.China can only continue its projects and investments if Myanmar is at peace.China wants a peaceful Myanmar because it benefits economically from it.
The Mee Lin Gyaing Energy Project in the Ayeyarwady area, the Letpadaung Copper Mine in the Sagaing region, and the Kyauk Phyu deep sea port and special economic zone in Rakhine state are a few of the megaprojects in Myanmar that China is funding. There is no doubt China is collaborating with the military regime only to maintain, carry out, and further its economic interests in Myanmar, such as the important Kyauk Phyu deep sea port project, which is Beijing’s attempt to get access to the Indian Ocean.
Infact China is attempting to “ divide Burma” further by aligning with ethnic armies under the guise of promoting peace as well as attempting to “ hold all the keys to the situation” in order to exploit Myanmar’s internal conflict.