Myanmar calls out China for arming terror groups, asks world to help
Myanmar, China’s closest ally in southeast Asia, has pointed fingers at Beijing for arming insurgent groups with sophisticated weapons and sought international cooperation to suppress rebel groups. In a recent interview to Russian state-run TV channel Zvezda, Myanmar’s Senior General Min Aung Hlaing said terrorist organisations active in Myanmar are backed by ‘strong forces’ and sought international cooperation to suppress rebel groups.
The reference to ‘strong forces’ was widely seen to be a reference to Myanmar’s neighbour in the north, China.
Myanmar military spokesperson Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun later elaborated on the comment made by the Commander-in-Chief of Myanmar’s armed forces. The spokesperson said the army chief was referring to Arakan Army (AA) and Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), terrorist organisations active in the Rakhine State in western Myanmar that borders China.
A ‘foreign country’ is behind the Arakan Army (AA), he said, citing China-made weapons that terror group used in mine attacks on the military in 2019.
It is unusual for the Myanmar leadership to point fingers at China. But this isn’t the first time that Naypyitaw had alluded to the Chinese connection.
When the Myanmar military busted a huge cache of weapons including surface-to-air missiles - each costing between USD 70,000 and 90,000 - from the banned Ta’ang National Liberation Army in November 2019, the military had underlined the Chinese connection to the weapons. Most of the weapons seized by the force are “Chinese weapons,” military spokesperson Major General Tun Tun Nyi had declared.
The Myanmarese ethnic rebel groups operating along the Chinese border mostly use Chinese weapons, prompting suspicions about Beijing’s role as part of an effort to keep Myanmar under control
China, for the record, denies that it supplies weapons to armed rebel groups in Myanmar but such denials are often treated with scepticism in Myanmar.
Senior General Hlaing had flagged Myanmar’s concerns around these weapons when he hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping in January this year. Xi then promised that China would “carefully scrutinise” matters and “solve the problem”, pointing that there were other ways for the rebels to acquire Chinese weapons.
Xi’s suggestion was seen in Myanmar as part of an elaborate exercise by China to keep its smaller neighbour “unstable”. There has been a view in Naypyitaw that China was using its influence with the terror groups as a bargaining chip for smooth implementation of Belt and Road Initiative projects.
Officials say Beijing has been desperate to push the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor that seeks to give China a strategic opening on to the Bay of Bengal and eastern part of Indian Ocean Region. There has also been some concern around the Chinese loans extended to execute these projects that led to worries that Myanmar shouldn’t land in China’s debt trap.
The US-led Indo-Pacific strategy is a ploy to create divisions and incite confrontation in the region, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said on Sunday, adding that the plan is bound to fail. “Facts will prove that the so-called Indo-Pacific strategy is in essence a strategy to create division, to incite confrontation and to undermine peace,” Wang said.
Days after the Taliban's latest order, women presenters on Afghanistan's top news channels went on air on Sunday with their faces covered. On Saturday, many of the news anchors had reportedly defied the diktat to conceal their appearance on TV but their employers had come under pressure. The Taliban's latest order was among the slew of restrictions, mostly targeting the rights of women and girls, they imposed since seizing powers of Afghanistan last year.
Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese, who will be sworn in as Australia's 31st prime minister on Monday, after his party won Saturday's federal elections, will, soon after Albanese's swearing-in, leave for Tokyo, Japan, to attend a summit of the Quad group of nations. However, Albanese will not be the only Labor leader to take oath of allegiance on the day; four other party MPs will also be sworn-in.
President Joe Biden said Sunday that recent cases of monkeypox that have been identified in Europe and the United States were something “to be concerned about.” In his first public comments on the disease, Biden added: “It is a concern in that if it were to spread it would be consequential." “They haven't told me the level of exposure yet but it is something that everybody should be concerned about,” Biden said.
The war between Russia and Ukraine is now heading to the fourth month, with no signs of peace. The ferocious fighting which began on February 24 has killed thousands of civilians, flattened cities and forced more than six million Ukrainians to flee the country. Having already abandoned its move to capture capital Kyiv, Russia is now all out to capture the eastern and southern parts of the war-torn country.