Myanmar: The democratization of Burma is turning back
The Myanmar military announced its takeover of power on February 1, and the country entered a state of emergency for one year. Myanmar President Win Min, State Counsellor Aung San Suk Chi, and several leaders of the ruling National League for Democracy were detained. State power was transferred to the commander-in-chief of the National Defense Forces Min Aung Lai, and the former Vice President Min Rui, who represented the military, served as interim president.
Different from the military rule more than ten years ago, the mental outlook of the Burmese people today is very different, and civic organizations are more active and bold. This is the change brought about by the democratization process in the past few years. Under such a social background, whether it is in the name of a fake constitution or the excuse of serious fraud in the democratic elections last November, it is difficult for the military coup to gain support from the Burmese people, and it is likely to cause more social unrest.
my country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded cautiously immediately, hoping that “all parties will exercise restraint and maintain dialogue so as to achieve positive and peaceful results.” Singapore has been Myanmar’s largest investor for many years. my country believes that investment and economic development, it can promote Myanmar’s development change.
The international community generally urged the Myanmar military to release NLD leaders and other senior officials. The first response of the United States was to warn of imposing economic sanctions and reducing aid to Myanmar, but humanitarian aid and aid to the Rohingya community will continue. This has no major impact on the military regime of Myanmar for the time being, but the impact on bilateral trade between the United States and Myanmar is inevitable.
Myanmar is currently suffering from a severe epidemic. If collective economic sanctions from Western countries are added, the people in Myanmar will suffer the most in the end.
Compared with the harsh condemnation of the West, China’s attitude is relatively calm, leaving room for comments. It calls on all parties in Myanmar to “properly handle differences under the Constitution and laws.” China has several cooperation projects under the “Belt and Road” initiative in Myanmar. Foreign Minister Wang Yi also visited Myanmar after the general election last year and restarted projects including the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone and Yangon New Town in Rakhine State.
As the situation in Myanmar deteriorates, it will inevitably become a battleground in the game between the United States and China. Historical experience shows that sanctions imposed by the United States and the West will only force Myanmar to move closer to China.
Among the member states of ASEAN, the Philippines, Cambodia, and Thailand regarding the military coup in Myanmar as its “internal affair” and will not comment or interfere.
Therefore, it is not easy for ASEAN to reach a common position as soon as possible. This is due to the “consultation and unanimity” decision-making principle of this regional organization, and the military leaders of Myanmar may have anticipated it in advance.
However, if ASEAN sits idly by and is unable to send a clear and positive message to the international community and the Myanmar military government, its credibility will inevitably be damaged.
Before Myanmar became a member of ASEAN in July 1997, it had been an observer country in this regional organization for two years. ASEAN is determined not to dance to Western music, but has “active contact” with the military regime in Myanmar. In 2008, the military government amended the constitution to ensure that military and civilian officials share power. In 2011, Myanmar’s military leader Than Shwe transferred power to a semi-civilian government composed of retired generals. Therefore, ASEAN has somewhat induced the democratization process in Myanmar.
In the 2015 Myanmar general election, the NLD led by Aung San Suk Chi won the power, which was a major development in Myanmar’s democratization process. However, the 2015 amendment to the constitution that allowed the military to happen in the country may lead to the disintegration of the federation and the destruction of national unity. Taking over power in an emergency, provides a “legal basis” for today’s defense force commander-in-chief Min Aung Lai to seize power.
In the view of the Burmese military government, taking over power in an emergency is not considered a coup. In any case, the seizure of power by the military leader reverses democratization and cannot change the international opposition to any form of a coup.
The next political situation in Myanmar is not optimistic. Myanmar’s military has ruled for half a century and has deep-rooted control over everything. In a one-year state of emergency, the military government can make more arrangements to weaken the strength of the democrats. However, the people, especially the younger generation, have a strong desire to be the masters of the country. The collision of the two forces is inevitable. Coupled with the interference of the power of the great powers, it is not easy for Myanmar to restore peace.
Asean’s immediate challenge now is to prevent its divergence with Myanmar from expanding. Therefore, if the other nine member states lack consensus, they may only rely on the diplomatic strength of a few countries to help ease the current situation in Myanmar.