China. UN council should try to avoid civil war against Myanmar
China’s UN ambassador said on Friday that the UN Security Council’s main goal in conflict-torn Myanmar should be to avert further violence and civil war.
Zhang Jun told several reporters after the council heard closed-door briefings from Myanmar’s new envoys to the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations and United Nations that he hoped that their efforts and others “could really continue to calm the situation”.
Almost a year ago, on February 1, 2021, Myanmar’s military seized power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. His takeover was quickly met with nonviolent nationwide protests, which security forces put down with deadly force, killing more than 1,400 civilians, according to a detailed list compiled by the Political Prisoners Assistance Association. .
Peaceful protests have continued, but amid the harsh crackdown, armed resistance has also grown, to the point that UN experts have warned the country could descend into civil war.
The Southeast Asian regional group ASEAN, which includes Myanmar, has sought to mediate in the Myanmar crisis due to concerns about how it could affect regional peace, and the ambassador Zhang said China believes it should play “a crucial role”.
In April, ASEAN reached consensus on a five-point plan to try to restore peace and stability, including an immediate end to violence, the opening of a dialogue between all parties and the appointment of an ASEAN special envoy who would travel to Myanmar to meet with all parties concerned. . But Myanmar has made little effort to implement it.
ASEAN also took months to choose Brunei’s second foreign minister, Erywan Yusof, as an envoy, but he never made it to Myanmar because the military wouldn’t allow him to meet Suu Kyi. In October, Cambodia assumed the chairmanship of ASEAN and in mid-December Prime Minister Hun Sen appointed the country’s Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn as the regional group’s envoy to Myanmar.
Hun Sen himself became the first foreign leader to visit Myanmar since the military coup, a visit that sparked protests at home and criticism abroad. Opponents said his visit earlier this month legitimized the military coup and broke the generals’ near total diplomatic isolation – and that he did not meet Suu Kyi.
But Cambodian Foreign Minister Sokhonn said later that talks between Hun Sen and Myanmar’s military chief, General Min Aung Hlaing, had resulted in “a very good positive outcome with a gradual step forward” on the issue. implementation of the ASEAN agreement.
China’s Zhang said on Friday that Beijing hailed Hun Sen’s efforts, calling his visit “rather good, quite fruitful” and saying “we asked them to keep making new efforts.”
Zhang said Sokhoon told the council on Friday that members needed to understand Myanmar’s historical background, “the unique political structure” and the role the military plays in that structure – and “only on this basis we can find a solution”.
“Some people don’t like the kind of situation (currently), but I think we also have to keep in mind that we have to avoid the situation getting worse, avoid more violence, avoid a civil war,” he said. said Zhang. . “That’s the main goal we should have in mind.”
He said China also welcomes the appointment of Noeleen Heyzer as the new UN special envoy for Myanmar. She is talking to key parties and has asked to travel to Myanmar, he said, and “hopefully she can.”
Britain’s deputy ambassador to the UN, James Kariuki, said Heyzer would try to visit Myanmar soon, “but the conditions must be met”.
He said it was important for the council to hear from the two envoys for the first time, stressing that they had the full support of the council. He said the council was working on a press release on Myanmar reflecting areas of agreement.
“As the council heard today, 14 million people are in desperate need of lifesaving assistance today, compared to 1 million before the coup,” Kariuki told The Associated Press. “The worse it gets, the worse it will get. The military must stop blocking humanitarian access and start honoring their own commitment to implement the five-point consensus. … There can be no more delay.