An interview with political analyst Dr. Hla Kyaw Zaw
Recently, international leaders have met with the military regime in Myanmar with increasing frequency. The Thai foreign minister visited the regime in April, followed by a visit from the Chinese foreign minister. The China’s central government’s foreign minister has even personally visited Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, chairman of the military council.
In this interview with Narinjara, China political analyst Dr. Hla Kyaw Zaw Dr. Hla Kyaw Zaw discussed whether the path of dialogue China wants is possible in light of recent visits by Chinese officials.
Q – In April, the Thai Foreign Minister visited Myanmar, and shortly thereafter Ban Ki Moon also visited Myanmar. And then came the Chinese Foreign Minister. The ongoing conflict in Myanmar is escalating, raising questions about the viability of the path of dialogue China is seeking with its government’s visit. Can China successfully persuade the military council? And even if the military council could be persuaded, would this lead to meaningful dialogue? Could prominent figures like Daw Aung San Suu Kyi be brought to the negotiating table? I’d like to hear your views on these questions.
A – I think it’ll take time. Because China interfered in the affairs of South Sudan and Java for six or seven years. Even Saudi Arabia and Iran met secretly in China almost seven times. I don’t know if you remember that an Iranian general was assassinated with a drone on the airfield under the Trump administration. Saudi Arabia and Iran had initially held talks in Iraq. But after the assassination of the Iranian general, they had to move the talks to China. There were secret meetings on the issue. The visit of the leader of a central government isn’t to be taken lightly. Before him, a leader of the Communist Party of China came to visit. During his visit, he met only with U Than Shwe and U Thein Sein. He didn’t meet with Min Aung Hlaing. This is Chin’s message (to the military council) that they have met with Myanmar’s former military leaders to put pressure on Min Aung Hlaing. Right now, I think Min Aung Hlaing is the most stubborn of all. Then the Chinese foreign minister came in because I guess he got the green light. The situation hasn’t improved as much as we wanted. Politically, there is no way out for the regime, but they seemed to assume that they can still win militarily.
So they continue to brutally suppress resistance. Politically, they have to find a way out, because that is important for the long-term existence of a legitimate government. They’ll not give up as long as they believe they can win by military means. Even if they were to give in to certain demands, it would only be a ploy. It’s right for the forces of the Spring Revolution to remain determined, because our country will be truly peaceful and experience developments when the dictators are gone. That is why we must continue to fight. Right now, they’re only working towards ending the violence. Ban Ki Moon has talked about that. Noeleen Heyzer has also talked about this. We have to fight the military until we win. We have to continue to do what we have to do. If necessary, we need to form a coalition force and work in a more coordinated way. Only then will the military be humbled. They have been presumptuous all their lives. When have they kept a single promise? We can’t compromise. It’s right that we act decisively. It’s true that they have the greater military power, but they’re also looking for a political way out. They still seem to think they can maintain power by military means. They still think they don’t have to give up yet. We must firmly make them understand that we cannot continue with military dictatorship.
On the other hand, China has overcome the confrontation with the U.S. over the Taiwan issue, but other important issues have emerged. The Myanmar issue is one of them. In the Middle East, the end of the Yemen problem is in sight after the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran was resolved by peaceful means. The Syrian conflict will also end soon. Like Russia and Ukraine, they need to talk where they’re. Zelenskyy is calling for the withdrawal of all Russian troops. Russia hasn’t yet responded. China’s ongoing efforts are aimed at ending the violence and reducing the death toll. They’re also talking about ending the violence in Myanmar. China has a very detailed agenda and will implement it step by step.
Q – Can we be optimistic about the Chinese leaders’ visits to Nay Pyi Taw as a good sign?
A – Of course we can, if they can convince the military regime to stop the violence. Only Russia and China are treating them well. Russia won’t be able to come to their aid because it’s also in a power crisis. Economically, only China can help them, so they have to treat China with a little more favor. They’ll have to follow China’s advice to some extent. On the one hand, China only cares about their interests. They’re working for their strategic interests. China’s strategy will only work if Myanmar is peaceful. That is why they have intervened. When they intervene, they talk moderately. The regime in Myanmar has no other choice. They have no one else to rely on. I think there will be positive developments. But we can’t compromise on this revolution. We have to act decisively to send the military back to the barracks. We mustn’t rush; we should do it step by step. We have to fight until the military regime realizes that the people have an equal right to political and military rights and powers.
Q – If we look at the stance of China and the U.S. on the Myanmar issue, we can see some differences. Some political analysts say China is only pursuing its own interests in Myanmar. They say China’s main goal is to implement the BRI project by making neighboring Myanmar a central front. What is your opinion on that?
A – The United States has a different approach than China. They only think about winning. Some countries have become intolerable over time. China has taken a win-win approach from the beginning. You take something and we also take something. So China’s approach has proven to be fairer. But if we look at the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan or Iraq, we can see how they eventually left those countries in chaos. First they promised democracy to both countries, but in the end they were all burned to ashes. The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan was particularly embarrassing. As China becomes stronger economically, countries that have good relations with China can solve their economic difficulties to some extent. After peace was made in South Sudan, China helped rebel groups develop agriculture and build dams so that the resisters could become farmers again. China is also helping Wa and Mongla in the same way because China also has capital. They came with that capital and contributed to building roads and bridges. They’re now automatically better off because of the improved transportation. Chinese peacekeepers also did the same thing in Cambodia. They helped build roads and improve the flow of goods. They helped build dams. Who will remain rebels if they’re offered seeds for agriculture and their economy grows as a result?
Sent from Narinjara.