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China Says It Will Work With ASEAN to De-Escalate Situation in Myanmar

By Nan Lwin The Irrawaddy, Wed, February 24, 2021

Anti-coup protesters stage a sit-in protest in front of the Indonesian Embassy on Wednesday, demanding Jakarta stop backing the military regime’s plan to hold a new election. / The Irrawaddy

YANGON—The Chinese foreign minister said Beijing supports efforts by ASEAN to ease the situation in Myanmar during a phone conversation with his Indonesian counterpart, amid growing anger among Myanmar people toward ASEAN’s largest nation due to reports that it backs the coup leaders’ plan to hold a new election.

Chinese state-owned media reported that China is ready to conduct close coordination with the bloc to de-escalate the situation in its southern neighbor.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said no countries were as concerned about the situation in Myanmar, and had a stronger desire to see the resumption and maintenance of peace and stability, than China and ASEAN, adding that ASEAN member Myanmar has friendly ties with China.

“The continuing turbulence in Myanmar is neither in the interests of Myanmar and its people, nor in the common interests of other regional countries,” Wang said.

He called on Myanmar’s military and political parties to take responsibility for the country’s stability and development, while expressing hope that all players would act in the country’s long-term interests.

Wang said this would allow Myanmar’s problems to be solved peacefully and within constitutional and legal frameworks, and the let country’s democratic transition proceed in an orderly manner.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said Jakarta and other ASEAN member countries proposed holding an informal meeting, and hoped that China would support it.

She promised that ASEAN would help Myanmar find a way out of the current situation and advance inclusive democratic processes in Myanmar.

Indonesia faced condemnation from Myanmar people after reports emerged that it had been pushing other ASEAN nations to agree to an action plan that included keeping the military to its promise to hold a “fair and inclusive” new election. Myanmar State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won a landslide victory in Myanmar’s general election on Nov. 8. On Feb. 1, the military staged a coup and detained national civilian leaders including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior NLD members, citing alleged electoral fraud.

Following the reports, a large crowd gathered in front of the Indonesian Embassy in Yangon on Tuesday, demanding Jakarta not back the junta’s plan to hold a new election, and that it recognize the results of the Nov. 8 vote.  The anti-coup protesters held placards reading “ASEAN Respect our Vote,” “We don’t need another election,” “We want our elected government back” and “We don’t accept Indonesia’s action plan.” Later, Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry denied the report and announced that it respected the Myanmar people’s wishes. However, many in Myanmar remain skeptical of ASEAN’s stance and large numbers of protesters gathered outside the embassy for a second day on Wednesday.

According to a letter from the Myanmar Ministry of Transport, Retno was expected to arrive in Myanmar on Thursday to discuss ASEAN’s stand on the military coup. On Wednesday, however, the Indonesian Foreign Ministry said it had canceled the trip. The cancellation comes amid concerns among the Myanmar public that such a visit would be tantamount to recognizing the military government.

Myanmar military regime-appointed Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin flew to Bangkok on Wednesday to meet Retno following the cancellation of her trip.



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