A coup with China’s fingerprints all over it

 

A coup with China’s fingerprints all over it

China’s response to the recent military coup in Myanmar has been “conspicuously muted”, While the rest of the world rushed to condemn the takeover, Beijing simply declared that it had “noted” the event, which its state news agency characterised as a “major Cabinet reshuffle”. Is this because China covertly orchestrated the coup itself, or at least gave the generals its blessing? 

Some analysts believe so. Beijing has long had close ties to Burmese military leaders, and in recent years it has extended billions of dollars in high-interest loans to Myanmar as part of its Belt and Road Initiative. In practice, this initiative often amounts to a form of “debt-trap diplomacy”, allowing Beijing to snap up strategic assets from defaulting nations. The signs are that Myanmar’s civilian government had been trying to extricate itself from its over-reliance on Chinese loans, and was being “heavily courted by Japan and India, with New Delhi even donating the Burmese navy a submarine last year”. Given the potential threat this posed to China’s strategic investments in Myanmar, it seems all too likely that Beijing “stepped in to protect its interests”.

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