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China’s special envoy wraps up unannounced visit to Myanmar: What message does the Beijing send to military junta

Photo: Mr. Sun Guoxiong, Special Envoy for Asian Affairs met Senior General Min Aung Hlaing on 08 Nov 2918

China’s special envoy wraps up unannounced visit to Myanmar: What does the Beijing send message to military junta?

China’s special envoy for Asian Affairs Sun Guoxiang has wrapped up his unannounced visit to Myanmar for a week-long from 21 to Aug 28. The Chinese high-level diplomat’s visit came unexpectedly amid the political chaos in Myanmar since the military ousted State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi’s government on Feb 01.

It is the first time a high-level Chinese diplomat visits the country after the caretaker government was formed on Aug 01, for which the military junta leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing appointed himself as Prime Minister.

Mr. Sun allegedly held talks with the junta leader Min Aung Hlaing, Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin, and Minister for the Union Government Office Yar Pyae and “exchanged views with them on the political landscape in Myanmar and China-Myanmar cooperation in combating COVID-19”, said China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wan Wenbin at a regular Foreign Ministry press conference on Aug 31.

China actively supports Myanmar in working together with ASEAN to implement the “five-point consensus on Myanmar reached by ASEAN, and opposes undue external intervention,” he added. However, the Myanmar military junta did not make any official announcement regarding the visit of Mr. Sun to the country as well as the meeting and discussions they had with him during his visit.

Unlike most Western countries that have condemned and imposed economic sanctions on military junta leaders for ousting the elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, China has been consistent in defending the military junta against international pressure and condemnations. Evident to this stance, the Chinese government has so far refused to label the military’s action on Feb 01 as a coup and abstained from supporting most of the UN resolutions that condemn the military junta for staging a coup d’état and violent crackdowns on peaceful protesters.

Beijing has vast economic interests in Myanmar. The major economic interests include the China-Myanmar oil and gas pipeline, Ruili-Mandalay Railways, Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone, and access to the Indian Ocean, making Naypyidaw an important partner. Protecting these economic interests requires China to maintain a healthy relationship with any central government of Myanmar.


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