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Chinese Defense Companies and the Burmese Military Regime

Although China has repeatedly denied assisting the Burmese (Myanmar) military in launching its February coup, many people believe the opposite. Recently, a Burmese citizen’s group disclosed in a report that five Chinese companies have long been selling weapons to the military government.

The civil organization “Justice for Myanmar” recently disclosed in a report that 16 foreign companies supplied conventional weapons and equipment to Tatmadaw (the official name of the armed forces of Myanmar). Among them there were five Chinese firms, namely China North Industries Group Corporation Limited (Norinco), Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), and China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC). India, Israel, Russia, and Singapore, each have two companies on the list.

Zhang Shengqi, chairman of the Myanmar-Burma Assistance Association, told Radio Free Asia on Thursday, February 18, that Chinese companies have been selling weapons to Myanmar for a long time, and that this is no longer a secret. Zhang said, “It is no secret that China provides arms to the Burmese government forces. The Burmese military is a military ally of China in the south. Ten years ago, the Chinese government moved its security line from southern Yunnan province to southern Myanmar. The whole country of Myanmar is regarded as within the security line of China’s defense. The stability of Myanmar directly affects China’s interests and national security. If Myanmar chooses to have a pro-US, instead of pro-China, stance, Myanmar will once again fall into an endless civil war.”

In recent years, China invested in the Kyaukpyu deep-water port in the western Rakhine State of Myanmar, a US$ 1.3 billion project. After completion, it will become China’s gateway to the Indian Ocean. In addition, the US$ 8.9 billion Mandalay high-speed rail project will connect northern Myanmar with southwest China. In the future, China may transport energy and materials without relying entirely on the Malacca Strait.

Zhang Shengqi expressed the belief that China has huge economic and strategic interests in Myanmar and that geopolitics doomed the special relationship between the two countries. “The military port and China-Myanmar oil pipeline in the Bay of Bengal are the lifeblood for the Chinese military’s energy. China has to protect its military investment and presence in Burma and support Burma’s stability. … The Burmese people have no choice.”

Source: Radio Free Asia, February 17, 2021