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Saturday, May 18, 2024

The Brewing Conflict in Myanmar

In Myanmar, a new conflict is brewing. On one side is the ruling military junta, and on the other are various armed ethnic groups. They claim to be fighting for democracy and an end to the junta’s dictatorship. Regardless of the motive, wars are costly. This one is no exception. However, the cost is not just borne by the warring factions. Another party may also be feeling the pinch – the junta’s puppet master, China.

China’s Role and Response

For weeks now, Beijing has been calling for peace. It has been sending top officials to Myanmar to hold talks and has offered to mediate with the rebel factions. In a show of force, China launched combat training activities along its border with Myanmar on a recent Saturday. Videos of the drills show armored vehicles, artillery being fired, and officers shouting orders at the troops. The aim, as stated by China, was to check its readiness for emergencies and to see how it could control and close borders. The message is simple – Myanmar’s problems should not cross the border. The Brewing Conflict in Myanmar

The Refugee Crisis

The fighting in Myanmar has displaced more than 330,000 people. Many have crossed into China, and China seems to be pushing back with muscle-flexing and tear gas. China’s stance seems to have hardened after an attack on a goods convoy last Thursday. Rebel drones reportedly set more than 100 trucks on fire, resulting in a loss of over $14 million worth of goods.

The Significance of the Town ‘M’

This attack took place near the town of ‘M’, a major trading hub and one of the key points of land trade between China and Myanmar. The border gate that the convoy had crossed is now under rebel control. ‘M’ is not just important for trade but also holds deeper significance. It’s going to be a key transit point for China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Under its China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, Beijing aims to connect its southern Yunnan Province to the Bay of Bengal via a billion-dollar railway line that is set to pass through ‘M’. The convoy attack and the fall of the border gate would have sent alarm bells ringing in Beijing. The Brewing Conflict in Myanmar

China’s Military Response

In response to these developments, China has initiated border drills and posed a naval threat. Three Chinese warships have docked in Myanmar’s southern city of Yangon. A destroyer, a frigate, and a supply ship carrying 700 Chinese sailors arrived on these vessels. This naval task force is reportedly in Yangon for joint drills with Myanmar’s navy.

Accusations Against China

The city of Yangon has recently seen junta-sanctioned protests directed at the Chinese. The pro-junta demonstrators accuse China of supplying drones and weapons to the rebel groups, similar to the ones used to destroy the convoy near ‘M’. This protest was seen as Myanmar lashing out at Beijing, complaining about what looks like China’s double game.

Conclusion

After this rare act of defiance, Beijing has sent its warships to Yangon. It seems China is using intimidation tactics on both sides of Myanmar’s border, threatening both the junta and the rebels. It seems to want both factions to toe its line and eventually profit from the chaos in Myanmar. The situation remains fluid, and the world watches with bated breath as the events unfold.

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