West’s Cynical Concern for Myanmar
By Finian Cunningham
March 15, 2021 "Information
Clearing House" - -
- The three Western powers on
the United Nations Security Council have
been highlighting concern for human rights
violations in Myanmar. But their “concern”
seems to have cynical motivation to make
problems for China.
Last week the Security Council issued a
statement condemning violence against
civilians by the military regime in Myanmar.
The Asian country has been thrown into
turmoil since the military seized power by
ousting a civilian government on 1 February.
More than 60 civilians have been killed
from soldiers firing on unarmed protesters
who are calling for the return of the
elected government. At least 1,500 people
have been detained including political
Britain, the former colonial ruler of Burma
(now Myanmar), as well as the United States and
France, have been demanding that the Security
Council condemn the military takeover and subsequent
violence against civilians. Last week, the Western
succeeded in getting China to sign on to a joint
statement of condemnation.
Previously, China was
rebuked by Western powers for siding with
Myanmar’s military after Beijing was accused of
giving political cover to its power-grab.
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China has invested billions of dollars
in making Myanmar a key node in its Belt and
Road Initiative for global trade. The country
provides transit for two Chinese-built pipelines
which transport natural gas and oil over 800
kilometres from the Indian Ocean into mainland
China. There are also ambitious projects
underway for rail transport and deep-water sea
Beijing had good relations with the civilian
government in Myanmar which became established in
2011 when the military junta handed over power and
permitted elections. Many of its ambitious projects
were negotiated with the elected politicians. It’s
fair to say that China is not happy about the
military’s sacking of the government. The insecurity
in the country is potentially jeopardizing billions
of dollars-worth of investments and crucial
infrastructure for China’s energy supply and
That’s why the Western powers are relishing the
invidious position China is in over Myanmar.
Beijing’s reticence in joining earlier
condemnations was highlighted by Britain and the
United States. That bad publicity served to
mobilise protesters in Myanmar to target China
with their anger. According to Reuters
reporting, there are threats being made of
sabotage against China’s energy pipelines and
other business interests.
No doubt this is how China was pressured
into issuing a joint statement of condemnation by
the UN Security Council. Britain’s ambassador to the
UN Barbara Woodward has said there will be more
hard-hitting statements drafted in the future which
China (and Russia) will be expected to support.
This is the cynical politics of condemnation.
Western powers sense they have China over a barrel
with Myanmar due to its strategic economic
interests. If China doesn’t condemn then the anger
of Myanmar protesters can be directed at ripping up
infrastructure. If China does condemn, then it is
being put into sour relations with Myanmar’s
military rulers. The Western powers appear to be
ratcheting up the vice-like position.
The Biden administration has made it abundantly
clear that it is ramping up the geopolitical
rivalry with China even more than the previous
Trump administration. Washington wants to clamp
down on China’s rise as a global power. By
targeting Myanmar, the United States and its
Western allies calculate that they can damage a
key node in China’s new Silk Routes for its
lucrative global trade and economic expansion.
Britain, which fought three colonial wars
in what was Burma and ruthlessly exploited the Asian
nation for decades, is the least qualified party to
be “concerned” about democracy and human rights in
If the Western powers had any genuine,
principled concern, then why aren’t they making
statements of condemnation over much more disturbing
violations elsewhere in the world?
The utter duplicity of the Western powers
shows that their “concern” about Myanmar is a
cynical political weapon which they are trying to
use against China.
Finian Cunningham has written
extensively on international affairs, with
articles published in several languages. He is a
Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and
worked as a scientific editor for the Royal
Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before
pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. He is
also a musician and songwriter. For nearly 20
years, he worked as an editor and writer in
major news media organisations, including The
Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. -
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