China-Myanmar Construct New Trade Route via Indian Ocean

September 2, 2021

Sun Guoxiang, China’s special adviser for Asian affairs, attended Myanmar last week for talks with its military rulers as a new route linking Chinese trade flows to the Indian Ocean finally opened across the Southeast Asian nation. Unlike most Western countries which have criticized the Myanmar army for deposing Aung San Suu Kyi’s current leader. China has taken a smoother stance stating that its preferences are security and not interrupting in its neighbor’s affairs.

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Tuesday, Sun met with armed services ruler Min Aung Hlaing, foreign minister Wunna Maung Lwin, and Minister for the Union Government Office Yar Pyae during his visit from August 21 to August 28, and “shared opinions with them on the political situation in Myanmar”.

When asked about Sun’s trip, Wang said, “We will work with the international community to play a decisive role in Myanmar’s efforts to rebuild social harmony and reopen democratic transformation as soon as possible.”

The Chinese embassy in Myanmar has revealed the construction of a new trade route connecting Yangon’s port on the Indian Ocean to the Chinese border province of Yunnan, and then by rail to Chengdu in the southwestern province of Sichuan. The embassy said on Facebook, “The productive screening of the new Indian Ocean route represents a very important discovery in strengthening China-Myanmar trade relations”.

Wang said, China embraced Myanmar’s collaboration with the ASEAN in implementing a five-point agreement designed to resolve the crisis and “resists unjustified foreign influence”. Opponents of Myanmar’s junta have accused China of supporting the military takeover in February which ignited daily protests and resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and thousands of displaced persons due to fighting between the army and crudely created militias. Beijing has denied such allegations and stated that it supports regional diplomacy in dealing with the crisis.

A spokesman for Myanmar’s National Unity Government which is comprised of opposition to military regime did not immediately be reached for comment on the Chinese visit. On the other hand, Members of the shadow government have previously encouraged countries to deal with them instead of the military.

“China appears to be supporting the Junta by the way it is practicing diplomacy,” said Sai Wansai, a political analyst from Myanmar’s Shan ethnic minority, adding that India, Myanmar’s other major neighbor, could follow this.

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