YANGON: Anti-coup protesters in Myanmar have been staging rallies outside the Chinese embassy in Yangon over rumors of Beijing’s support for the military junta.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been demonstrating in towns and cities throughout the country against the Feb. 1 military coup that overthrew the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
China’s failure to join the international community in condemning the Myanmar military takeover has fueled rumors among protesters that Beijing has been backing the junta by helping it build an internet firewall and sending soldiers to quell protests.
Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar Chen Hai has denied the allegations, describing them as “nonsense and even ridiculous accusations,” but the envoy’s reassurances have not stopped protesters from holding sit-ins in front of the Yangon embassy.
Sandar Min, a former lawmaker from Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, told Arab News: “We are seeing growing anti-Chinese sentiment among the public. China needs to clear the doubts.
“The China-Myanmar relationship depends on how China responds to the current situation in Myanmar. It can help Myanmar get back on track to democratic transition,” she said.
Hundreds of protesters shouting anti-military slogans and singing revolutionary songs outside the Chinese embassy in Yangon, were on Thursday joined by members of the deaf community who showed their opposition to the coup with a three-fingered salute, a symbol of resistance.
“We are protesting the military that doesn’t allow the legitimate civilian government rule in the country. We don’t like military dictatorship, and we just want to live under the elected government. So, we don’t like other countries helping the regime technically or financially,” said deaf protester Tin Aye Ko, 50.
Another protester, Ko Ko, an operations manager at a private bank in Yangon, said that while the junta must be held responsible for the turmoil in the country, many people believed Beijing had encouraged the Myanmar military to stage the coup and introduce a political system similar to China’s.
“The Chinese foreign minister visited Myanmar and met (army general) Min Aung Hlaing just days before the military coup. Chinese influence over the Myanmar military is obvious and without its endorsement, we believe the coup would not have happened,” he added.
Anti-Chinese sentiment has also reached Myanmar’s border. In Muse, a town in the northeastern Shan state which borders China, hundreds of trucks on Wednesday blocked a major trade route to Mandalay, Myanmar’s second-largest city, disrupting the free flow of goods into and out of China, Naypyidaw’s biggest trade partner.
“Drivers left their trucks that were not actually broken down,” a trader and chairman of a commodity center in Muse told Arab News on Thursday. “It was a broken car campaign to protest the junta and China’s slow and vague response to the situation.
“China has the power to restore civilian rule in Myanmar. It should help Myanmar people, not the generals.”