July 6, 2022
BEIJING – China expects joint efforts with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to encourage Myanmar to pursue political reconciliation and restart the democratic transition process, visiting State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.
Wang made the remark on Sunday in a meeting with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn, the special envoy of ASEAN for Myanmar. The talks were held in Bagan, a city in central Myanmar on the sidelines of the seventh Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.
Wang said China encourages all political parties in Myanmar to prioritize the overall situation and the interests of its people, take rational and practical efforts to restore stability, and achieve peace at an early date.
He also voiced the hope to work together with ASEAN to encourage Myanmar to explore a path of political development that suits its national conditions.
China expects the regional group to adhere to “the ASEAN way” and uphold the basic principles and traditions of noninterference in internal affairs and a consensus-based approach, Wang said.
ASEAN should stay focused, remove distractions, coordinate in a patient way, and constructively implement its five-point consensus to safeguard the overall unity and leading role of the group, Wang added.
Sokhonn briefed Wang about his second visit to Myanmar as ASEAN’s special envoy which took place last week. Cambodia is the rotating chair of the regional group this year.
During his visit, Sokhonn paid a courtesy call to Myanmar State Administration Council Chairman Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.
The two sides exchanged views on the implementation of the five-point consensus, a program agreed by ASEAN members in April 2021 to resolve the Myanmar crisis, and the current political and humanitarian situation in Myanmar, said Cambodia’s Foreign Ministry.
With so little space for dialogue, it was important to keep the lines of communication open, said Joel Ng, deputy head of the Centre for Multilateralism Studies of the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.
Ng said the international community must insist on using agencies such as the United Nations for the distribution of humanitarian aid to avoid politicization or any appearance of partiality.
He also said China’s bilateral engagement with Myanmar on the sidelines of the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Foreign Ministers’ Meeting was “positive”.
Wang also met with Myanmar’s Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin on Sunday and said Beijing cherishes China-Myanmar friendship featuring mutual respect and equal treatment.
“China’s friendly policy toward Myanmar is for all the people of Myanmar,” said Du Lan, deputy director of the Department for Asia-Pacific Studies of the China Institute of International Studies.
Being Myanmar’s largest neighboring country, China expects Myanmar to achieve political and social stability, national development and revitalization, which is of vital importance for China’s interests in the country, Du added.
Since Myanmar’s cabinet reshuffle in February last year, Wang has met his Myanmar counterpart twice in China and Sun Guoxiang, China’s special envoy for Asian affairs, has visited Myanmar twice.
Myanmar is the co-chair of the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation mechanism this year and the country is where the mechanism was first initiated. Du observed that Myanmar would like to take the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Foreign Ministers’ Meeting as an opportunity to show its positive attitude to the outside world and boost internal economic recovery.
“China can also take this occasion to push Myanmar’s peace negotiations and offer the country assistance to promote cooperation under the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation mechanism,” Du added.
China is the country that provides the most anti-epidemic assistance to Myanmar and ASEAN. China donated another 2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to ASEAN for Myanmar on Thursday, following the 1 million doses of vaccines and anti-epidemic materials that were given to the country through ASEAN last year.