Beijing to Myanmar: Talk to opponents



The Manila Times

Asia And Oceania

BEIJING: China’s top diplomat on Sunday called for Myanmar’s junta to hold talks with its opponents during his first visit to the country since the February 2021 coup that plunged it into turmoil. Beijing is one of the Myanmar military’s few international allies, supplying arms and refusing to label the power grab that ousted Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi’s government a coup. Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China expected all parties in Myanmar to “adhere to rational consultation” and “strive to achieve political reconciliation.” He also told his Myanmar counterpart Wunna Maung Lwin that “China sincerely hopes that Myanmar will be politically and socially stable,” a statement on the website of the East Asian country’s foreign ministry read. In Beijing’s highest-profile visit to Myanmar since the putsch, Wang is attending a foreign ministers’ meeting with representatives from Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. His comments follow a junta spokesman indicating last week that talks between the military and Suu Kyi to resolve the chaos the coup caused were “not impossible.” “There is nothing impossible in politics,” spokesman Zaw Min Tun told Agence France-Presse (AFP) when asked about the possibility of such dialogue. “We cannot say that [negotiations with Suu Kyi] are impossible.” Myanmar’s spiraling civil violence has sparked concern from its regional neighbors, with Cambodian Foreign Minister and Association of Southeast Asian Nations envoy Prak Sokhonn visiting to try to kick-start talks between the army and its opponents. And with Western governments imposing sanctions following the coup and a violent crackdown on dissent, the isolated junta has turned increasingly to its allies, including China and Russia. In May, a powerful Myanmar ethnic rebel group with close ties to China called for the junta to engage in dialogue with the opposition to end the escalating violence, which has seen Chinese business interests attacked. Beijing said in April it would help safeguard Myanmar’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, “no matter how the situation changes.”