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China’s Ambivalence About the Myanmar Coup

May 10, 2021

An image of a border area between China and Myanmar (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons).

BGA Head of Research Murray Hiebert wrote a piece for 9DASHLINE regarding China’s view of the February Myanmar coup that continues to raise questions about the country’s future. The article, which was published on May 7, addressed Beijing’s interests in the country as well as its ongoing views on the situation as it develops.

In the piece, Hiebert, who has had decades of experience working throughout Southeast Asia and recently authored a book on China’s relations with the region, argues that despite the fact that Beijing is worried about popular anti-China sentiment and the stability of the country under the junta which could affect its interests, it is more likely to recalibrate its behavior to accommodate changing realities rather than dramatically alter its own approach. This is due to a range of factors including Beijing’s understanding of the deep challenges Myanmar faces internally as well as the long list of other important foreign policy challenges it is grappling with such as managing its ties with the United States under the new Biden administration.

Indeed, absent a massive outpouring of refugees across the border into China or opponents of the junta threatening Chinese infrastructure, Hiebert writes that Beijing is “again bracing for the long game in Myanmar.” This includes quiet engagement with parties in Myanmar and symbolic acceptance of the role of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as a mediator in spite of the fact that China holds little hope for any speedy resolution.

You can read the full article here.