Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has called on Southeast Asian nations to be on the alert for external forces interfering in Myanmar as the military junta faces rising international pressure.
Wrapping up his week-long series of meetings with his counterparts from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines in Fujian, Wang said efforts should be made to stop tensions escalating in Myanmar.
“We are aware that we have to be alert to some external forces infiltrating Myanmar with ulterior motives, provoking trouble and intensifying divisions, which makes the situation more complicated,” Wang told Chinese state media following the meetings.
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“We all hope that the international community will uphold an objective and fair attitude and create a favourable external environment for Myanmar’s domestic political reconciliation, instead of arbitrarily imposing sanctions and pressure.”
Wang made the remarks as Brunei, the current chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, backed a meeting of the bloc’s leaders to discuss the situation in Myanmar, which is also a member of the grouping.
Indonesia has led Asean’s efforts to encourage a negotiated solution despite a long-standing policy of not commenting on each other’s domestic problems.
Following a meeting between Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and the Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah, the two countries said in a joint statement that they had told officials to make the “necessary preparations” for the meeting at the Asean secretariat in Jakarta.
Wang said China is willing to coordinate positions with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in a timely manner and provide necessary assistance to the bloc.
He continued: “We call on all parties in Myanmar to exercise the utmost restraint to stop violence and prevent another bloody conflict that aggravates civilian casualties. We all urge all parties in Myanmar to seek political understanding through dialogue within the constitution and legal framework as soon as possible.”
Wang’s warning over external interference comes as Chinese officials accused of human rights abuses in Xinjiang face sanctions from the United States, Canada, Britain and the European Union. The US has also imposed sanctions over Beijing’s policies in Hong Kong.
Beijing has described the measures as foreign interference in its core concerns and retaliated with sanctions of its own.
The United States has also suspended all engagement with Myanmar under a 2013 trade and investment agreement until the return of a democratically elected government.
The move follows sanctions on the two entities owned by Myanmar’s military, the Myanmar Economic Holdings Public Co Ltd and Myanmar Economic Corporation.
On Monday protests continued calling for the restoration of the civilian government led by Aung San Sui Kyi. Activists said six people were killed at the weekend as police and soldiers used force to break up demonstrations that some protesters are calling a “spring revolution”.
In a speech to soldiers carried in state media on Sunday, Min Aung Hlaing, the junta’s leader, said security forces were “exercising the utmost restraint” against armed rioters who were causing violence and anarchy.
China has refrained from condemning the coup, which has seen over 500 protesters killed, leading to rising anti-China sentiment and complaints in Myanmar that it is siding with the military junta.
Beijing has denied involvement in the coup and Wang said China would continue to maintain contact and communication with all parties in Myanmar.
Wang’s meeting with his foreign counterparts came as Beijing and the US are both reaching out to their partners in the region.
Wang denied that China is trying to extend its influence abroad by supplying Covid-19 vaccines, and said China is willing to implement a code of conduct for the South China Sea.
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