The situation behind the bamboo curtain in Myanmar has become critical with anti-military junta forces stepping up operations across the country and sentiment against China running high for exploiting mineral reserves and supporting the military dictatorship.
Last month, Myanmar recorded 647 deaths from conflict, including 34 civilians, 581 security forces, three militants and 32 in clashes between pro-government and resistance forces. In April, there were 379 conflict-related fatalities, including 17 civilians, 338 security forces, 11 militants and 13 members of the resistance. The total number of fatalities in May was one and a half times higher than in April, with the number of fatalities by the security services increasing by 71.89 percent.
The May death toll is the highest in a month since December 2021, at 654, after the military junta led by General Min Aung Hliang overthrew the democratic mandate in favor of National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi , in the military coup of February 2021. Suu Kyi is currently under house arrest after being convicted by the military court on several charges.
Rising anti-military junta resistance in Myanmar has been accompanied by rising anti-China sentiment in the country with Hong Kong-listed private security contractors hired by Chinese company Wanbao Mining in Sagaing region’s Salingyi municipality. This company is in a joint venture with Myanmar’s Economic Holdings Ltd to extract copper from the region’s Letpadaung mines.
The local militia opposing the military junta attacked a military ship carrying reinforcements and rations for the Chinese company on the Chindwin River on May 1. Myanmar’s local militia and security forces have taken place in the copper mines of the Sagaing region.
The ongoing political crisis in Myanmar was also discussed by Quad leaders at the Tokyo summit last month. The leaders of the four member states – India, the US, Australia and Japan – expressed concern about the crisis and called for a speedy restoration of democracy with the urgent implementation of the ASEAN Five Point Consensus.
In order to put pressure on the junta regime, the French embassy in Myanmar announced that the European Union and its member states have lifted their restrictive measures against various individuals and entities “involved in the military takeover, responsible for undermining the democracy and the rule of law in Myanmar”. and contribute directly or indirectly to the revenues/activities of the military regime.”
Reports from Myanmar indicate that there is a strong chance that anti-resistance forces will gain further ground, with a significant risk of fighting resumption in Rakhine state. The region on Myanmar’s west coast has remained largely silent since last year’s coup. But the Arakan army, an ethnic armed organization based in Rakhine state, has gradually renounced its agreement with the junta, countering the regime’s attempts to lure other groups to the peace table.
Tun Myat Naing, the commander-in-chief of the Arakan army, warned of a possible attack on the western regional military command if military activities expanded in Rakhine, the region where the mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims took place. However, the spokesman for the chairman of the State Council, Min Aung Hlaing, said the regime has no intention of fighting the Arakanese group.
Meanwhile, a US-based representative of a Rohingya insurgent group operating in northern Rakhine announced that the group plans to fight the junta within two years, and is calling on the refugees to donate money to support their efforts. to support the case.
While the possibility of a conflict between the warring parties is likely to escalate further, anti-China sentiments are fueling new crises for the junta. With increasing domestic crises and ongoing uncertainty over international recognition of the military regime, there will be more pressure on the government.