China‘s foreign minister came in Myanmar on Saturday for the first time since the military took control there last year. He was there to attend a regional gathering that the government claimed recognised its legitimacy; but, opponents argued that it violated peace efforts.
In the centre city of Bagan, a UNESCO World Heritage site, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will convene a conference of the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation group with counterparts from Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
The grouping is a Chinese-led initiative that includes the Mekong Delta nations. As more hydropower projects disrupt the flow and raise worries about ecological damage, this region might become a source of regional friction. China has built 10 dams along the upper stretch of the Mekong, the part it calls the Langcang.
Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun, spokesman for the military administration, stated during a news conference on Friday in Naypyitaw, the capital, that the foreign ministers’ attendance at the meeting was a recognition of Myanmar’s sovereignty and its government.
He declared that contracts and memoranda of agreement would be signed by the ministers. He said nothing further.
Uncertainty surrounds Wang’s meeting with Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, head of the military administration.
On February 1st, 2021, the military in Myanmar overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government. In response, there were swiftly nonviolent nationwide protests, which in turn sparked armed resistance that some U.N. experts today refer to as civil war.
2,053 civilians have perished in the crackdown on the resistance movement, according to a comprehensive list produced by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. Just three weeks prior to Suu Kyi’s military ouster, Wang last travelled to Myanmar to meet with her.
The largest trading partner and longtime ally of Myanmar is China. Together with Russia, Beijing is Myanmar’s main arms supplier and has spent billions of dollars in its mines, oil and gas pipelines, and other infrastructure.
Since Beijing has declined to denounce the military coup, there is widespread suspicion that China is aiding the military coup in Myanmar. China claims to adhere to a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of other nations.
The foreign minister of Myanmar’s shadow government, which opposes the country’s military-led administration, spoke out against the Bagan conference, claiming that any initiatives in which the civilian population is coerced by the military violate the people’s will and harm community building.
According to the statement, hosting the foreign ministers’ meeting in Myanmar is in stark contrast to an ASEAN-backed peace plan.
Despite being an ASEAN member, Myanmar has made little progress on the plan, and as a result, other ASEAN nations have prohibited government officials from attending important ASEAN meetings.
Chinese special envoy Sun Guoxiang has made two trips to Myanmar since the military took control, and Wang has had two meetings with Wunna Maung Lwin in China.