According to a Justice For Myanmar advocacy group and public domain records, Chinese state-owned enterprises are among the largest suppliers of weapons and military equipment to the Myanmar military.
The group has identified 122 top military government business associates who staged a coup on Feb. 1, ousting Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government and her National League for Democracy (NLD).
China North Industries Group (NORINCO), China Aviation Industry Corp. (AVIC), China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. (CASC), China Aerospace Science & Industry Corp. (CASIC), and China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Company are listed as the five largest suppliers (CATIC).
About a dozen other manufacturers have obtained funding from China or Hong Kong.
In the midst of mass demonstrations following the coup, a Justice for Myanmar spokesman said arms provided by NORINCO to the Tatmadaw were being used on unarmed civilians.
Norinco also operates two copper mines in the country which, the spokesman told RFA, have been accused of evicting local residents and polluting the environment.
Wanbao Mining (Hong Kong) Copper Ltd., Yang Tse Mining Limited, and busmaker Yutong are other Chinese investors, as well as many textile companies.
A “Dirty List” released by Burma Campaign UK identified 12 Chinese firms, including several of those already referred to in this post, as having links to the Myanmar military.
Zhang Shengqi, chairman of the Myanmar-Burma Assistance Association, said the fact that Chinese companies have been selling arms to the regime for a long time is an open secret among Chinese in Myanmar.
“It is no secret that China supplies arms to the Myanmar military,” Zhang said. “Ten years ago, the Chinese government moved its security defense line south from Yunnan province and into northern Myanmar.”
The whole of Myanmar,”It sees the whole of Myanmar as a security zone,”sees it as a security zone. “The stability of Myanmar directly impacts China’s national interest and its security.”
“If Myanmar had gotten closer to the U.S. [under a democratically elected government], then it would have fallen back into an endless civil war.”
The Belt and Road initiative, China’s foreign infrastructure investment programme, currently includes the flagship China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC).
Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China has stated that Beijing is prepared to accelerate the building of the CMEC’s western, northern and eastern ends.
Last month, Chinese state media announced that Wang was keen to encourage the early implementation of the deep-sea port of Kyaukpyu, the China-Myanmar Economic Cooperation Border Region, and New Yangon Area.
The CMEC bisects the northern part of the country and ends at a $1.3 billion deep-sea port on the coast of the Bay of Bengal at Kyaukpyu in southern Rakhine state. It includes plans to provide Yunnan with a U.S.$8.9 billion high-speed rail link, as well as gas and oil pipelines.
China is also increasingly dependent on Myanmar’s rice imports, with rice imports in the past decade increasing from 100,000 tons to 500,000 tons, accounting for 65% of Myanmar’s total export trade with China.
“The military port and China-Myanmar oil pipeline in the Bay of Bengal in Myanmar will be a crucial strategic supply line, and Beijing has to protect it,” Zhang said. “These military investments and presence in Myanmar will aid its stability.”
“I can say with a clear conscience that the people of Myanmar have no choice,” he said.
Chinese scholar Si Ling agreed, stating that the two countries have a co-dependent relationship.
“Myanmar is dependent on China for many things, including technology and personnel,” Si said. “Beijing also has to consider geopolitical factors like the national security implications of what is happening in Myanmar on its southern border region.”