Myanmar envoy fourth ambassador to die in China in less than a year

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U Myo Thant Pe, Myanmar’s envoy to Bejing, died in the Chinese capital on Sunday, becoming the fourth ambassador in China to die in the past year.

U Myo Thant Pe was appointed ambassador in 2019 and stayed in his post till the coup by Myanmar’s military in February 2021.

He was last seen on Saturday, meeting a local official in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan which borders Myanmar, reported Reuters.

Myanmar’s military junta seized power from elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021 and since faced international condemnation for allegedly carrying out thousands of extrajudicial killings.

Last week four political prisoners were executed in the country’s first official executions in decades.

The ambassador’s demise was announced by Myanmar’s foreign ministry in a state newspaper on Monday.

He reportedly died on Sunday in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming, according to the obituary.

However no specific cause of death has been announced.

According to diplomatic sources in Beijing and a Chinese language Myanmar media report the envoy reportedly died of a likely heart attack.

The Myanmar envoy’s death is the fourth in the last twelve months in China.

In September German ambassador Jan Hecker, 54, died less than two weeks into his Beijing posting.

In February Ukraine ambassador Serhiy Kamyshev, 65, died shortly after a visit to a Beijing Winter Olympics venue.

Philippines ambassador Jose Santiago “Chito” Sta. Romana, 74, died in quarantine in the eastern Chinese province of Anhui in April.

China is Myanmar’s old ally and biggest trading partner. Last month China’s top diplomat visited Myanmar in the first visit since the military coup in the country.

The country has invested billions of dollars in Myanmar’s mines, oil and gas pipelines and other infrastructure and is its major arms supplier, according to a report in the Associated Press.

China is also suspected of supporting the military takeover in Myanmar which Beijing has refused to condemn.

(Additional reporting by agencies)