By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, Feb. 18: China’s ambassador to Myanmar has denied rumours of assisting the military coup in Myanmar after hundreds of pro-democracy protestors demonstrated outside the Chinese embassy on Thursday. Myanmar’s military invalidated the results of the November election where the National League of Democracy (NLD) won by a large margin on Feb. 1. The military leadership declared a year-long state of emergency and placed the party leaders, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint under house arrest.
Ambassador Chen Hai said on Monday that Beijing had no “prior knowledge” of the coup and insisted that China has friendly relations with both the NLD and the military. “The current situation is absolutely not what China wants to see,” Chen further added. Beijing has yet to condemn the current unrest in Myanmar, which it considers a strategic Southeast Asian neighbour as no other country has more infrastructure investment in Myanmar than China.
China and Russia used their veto power as permanent members of the UN Security Council to block a joint statement condemning the military junta. As a result, hundreds of anti-coup protestors and locals gathered outside the Chinese embassy in Myanmar’s largest city Yangon. Protestors held signs in English and Chinese with slogans such as “Support Myanmar, Don’t support dictators” and “Stop helping the military coup.”
Chen spoke on the UN’s debate but did not criticise the coup openly, “Recently, the UN National Security Council published [Britain’s] remarks to the press, which expressed deep concern at the state of emergency declared and the house arrest of figures like State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint . . . As a member of the Security Council, China participated in these discussions. I believe everyone in Myanmar is aware of this situation.”
The ambassador strongly denied rumours that China sent weapons or technical assistance to Myanmar or it assisted the military to reinforce a firewall to censor the internet, calling the rumours “total nonsense and laughable”. He said pictures showing Chinese cargo planes landing in Myanmar were ordinary freight aircraft and were not carrying troops or weapons.
“If rumours like these are circulating in Myanmar, it suggests they were being inflamed and instigated by people with ulterior motives … We hope that Myanmar people can tell right from wrong and would not be influenced by politics causing harm to the good friendship between the people of our two countries,” Chen concluded.