Myanmar

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.
Motorists pass the China-Myanmar border gate in Muse in Shan state on 5 July 2021. (STR/AFP)

Will the Chinese government's crackdown on cross-border crime in Myanmar work?

In recent years, Chinese criminal gangs have moved to Southeast Asia including Myanmar, Laos and Thailand as China tightened its crackdown on telecom fraud at home. These gangs even have the support of local authorities in some cases. Now that the Chinese authorities are cracking down on cross-border crime, will the situation improve? Or will it be a never-ending merry-go-round?
Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a video conference call with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, 28 June 2021. (Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via Reuters)

Russia and China in Southeast Asia: Pragmatic cooperation against US primacy

Russia-China relations are at a historic high due to mutual concerns over US primacy, economic synergies and strong interpersonal ties between their national leaders. However, despite deepening military cooperation and closer diplomatic coordination, a formal alliance between Russia and China is not likely as this would constrain their strategic autonomy and undercut key foreign policy narratives. The South China Sea dispute is the most complex issue and a potential fault line in Russia-China relations in Southeast Asia. While Moscow has been broadly supportive of China’s position, Beijing’s jurisdictional claims threaten Russia’s lucrative energy interests in Southeast Asia.
Rescue workers and onlookers gather around a wreck after a bus plunged into a ravine following a bomb explosion, which killed 13 people including nine Chinese workers, in the Kohistan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan on 14 July 2021. (STR/AFP)

Chinese researcher: How to protect the BRI and keep Chinese enterprises overseas safe

As an increasing number of Chinese enterprises venture overseas and the BRI project continues its expansion, Peng Nian notes the rise in attacks targeted against these projects. He says much can be done to strengthen the safety awareness of Chinese enterprises, especially as many of them operate in unfamiliar or far-flung locations.
Anti-coup protesters hold a Chinese flag before burning it down during a demonstration against China in Yangon, Myanmar, 5 April 2021. (Stringer/Reuters)

Why Myanmar people are wary of a 'pauk-phaw' (sibling) relationship with China

China and Myanmar are said to have a “pauk-phaw” or sibling relationship. Many people in Myanmar, however, are clear-eyed about the limits of the bond. Who are the true beneficiaries of Chinese investment in Myanmar? Why are the people protesting while the higher-ups eagerly sign huge contracts with China and other countries?
A protester holds a flare as others make the three-finger salute during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon on 22 June 2021. (STR/AFP)

Chinese researcher: Why China avoids taking a strong stand on Myanmar

Since the military coup in Myanmar in February, China has been criticised by the West for not taking a strong stand against the situation. Chinese researcher Peng Nian explains China's difficult position and its hope for ASEAN to successfully mitigate the problem. What China can do now is to assist Myanmar with the fight against the pandemic, he says.