Myanmar

Demonstrators hold placards with pictures of Aung San Suu Kyi as they protest against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, 22 February 2021. (Stringer/File Photo/Reuters)

What do the official Chinese media’s mixed messages on the Myanmar coup mean?

China’s willingness to side with the Myanmar military and the SAC regime has been evident since the immediate aftermath of the February 2021 coup, despite its apparently mixed messages, say researchers Su Mon Thazin Aung and Nan Lwin. Through its state media, China has in fact consistently transmitted messages largely in favour of the military takeover of its smaller neighbour and sought to pin anti-Chinese sentiment in Myanmar on the West's moves.
Soldiers fire 155mm howitzers during an annual live fire military exercise in Pingtung, Taiwan, 9 August 2022. (Ann Wang/Reuters)

SEA's great power 'neutrality' risks being pro-China and anti-US

Susannah Patton, director of the Southeast Asia Program at Lowy Institute, asserts that though they seem to be taking a neutral stance, many Southeast Asian countries’ responses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and increasing US-China tensions on Taiwan have in fact affirmed narratives that are implicitly more critical of the US and other G7 countries. This may help to shape a regional environment that is far too permissive of aggression and coercion — the precise scenario that the countries hope to avoid.
Local residents ride past pro-Taiwan independence flags in Taipei, Taiwan, on 6 August 2022. (Sam Yeh/AFP)

The 'one China' policy of Southeast Asian countries

Academic Ngeow Chow Bing takes stock of the "one China" policy of Southeast Asian countries, noting changes in interpretations over the years and their subtle differences from China's "one China" principle and the US's "one China" policy. He warns that US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has exacerbated cross-strait tensions and could further limit Taiwan's international space in Southeast Asia.
Balconies at a compound in Sihanoukville are covered with iron grilles to prevent escapes.

Chinese scam rings in Cambodia drawing recruits from Southeast Asia

Cambodia is one of Southeast Asia’s fastest growing economies, but it has also become a hotbed of Chinese telecoms and online scams targeted at mainland Chinese in recent years. Most of the scam rings based in Sihanoukville recruit mainland Chinese, but have also started to bring in Chinese from Southeast Asia and Taiwan. Once duped into joining their firms, these workers are trapped and forced to work as online scammers. Lianhe Zaobao journalist Daryl Lim visited Sihanoukville in May to get a better picture.
Police stand guard near the parliament building in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 17 May 2022. (Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP)

Families that rule: Thoughts about Asia's political landscape

The political environment in Asia has been marked with upheavals and instability. While each country has their own system of democratic elections in the modern sense, they appear to share a number of common themes that resembles the backward political practices of 19th century Europe. Academic Chen Liujun assesses the regional developments.
Hundreds of residents queue to get the Covid-19 vaccine booster shot in Bekasi, Indonesia, on 5 February 2022. (Rezas/AFP)

2022 State of Southeast Asia survey: Diverse perspectives and hard realities

A Biden-led US seems to be gaining some traction in the contest for regional influence in Southeast Asia, according to the latest State of Southeast Asia survey report, even as China remains a presence to be wary of. Respondents also seemed receptive to structures like the Quad, particularly where it pertains to pragmatic cooperation. Apart from pandemic concerns which are still high, those surveyed expressed strong views on ASEAN's handling of the Myanmar issue. Recognising ASEAN's institutional limitations, they see the importance of continued cooperation with dialogue partners to tackle the challenges faced by the region.
People hold placards depicting leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a rally to demand her release and protest against the military coup, in Yangon, Myanmar, 8 February 2021. (Stringer/File Photo/Reuters)

A year on from the coup, Chinese New Year in Myanmar hijacked by politics

Hein Khaing rues the fate of the Chinese in Myanmar, who have always been treated as “third-class citizens” and were put in a bind again this Chinese New Year, which falls on the anniversary of last year’s coup. Forced to keep their shops open yet called upon to unite against the junta, many of them faced a “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t” situation. What will it take for the plight of the Chinese in Myanmar to change?
The commissioning ceremony of the UMS Minye Kyaw Htin, a Chinese-made Type 035 (NATO code-class Ming) submarine. (@KushalSinha001/Twitter)

Myanmar’s submarines: The race is on between China and Russia

Last month, Myanmar became the first Southeast Asian country to take delivery of a made-in-China submarine, the UMS Minye Kyaw Htin. Given that the EU will not sell arms to Myanmar, that leaves China and Russia as possible arms suppliers. The latest sale gives China an advantage over Russia to supply Myanmar with a new fleet of submarines, as both countries ignore US calls to ban arms sales to Myanmar. This means that price and geopolitics will decide which country wins.
The ASEAN-China summit commemorating 30 years of dialogue relations was held on 22 November 2021. (Prime Minister's Office, Singapore)

ASEAN-China relations stay robust despite Myanmar's absence from virtual summit

The recent virtual summit commemorating 30 years of ASEAN-China dialogue relations was held without a representative from Myanmar, the second time in a month that Myanmar was absent from the ASEAN family. The Myanmar issue is likely to pull ASEAN on many sides in the days to come, but the fact that the summit went on and concluded with some deliverables speaks for the strength of ASEAN-China relations.