In a rare blamegame against China, Myanmar has pulled Beijing for arming insurgent groups in their country with sophisticated weapons and sought international cooperation to suppress rebel groups.
In a recent interview to Russian state-run TV channel Zvezda, Myanmar’s Senior General Min Aung Hlaing said terrorist organisations active in Myanmar are backed by ‘strong forces’ and sought international cooperation to suppress rebel groups.
This follows a definitive exposure by Easternlink recently about supply of China-made weapons to the separatist Arakan Army through the Bangladesh coast.
Neither China nor Bangladesh, not even the Arakan Army denied the Easternlink expose.
The reference to ‘strong forces’ by the Myanmar army chief was widely seen as a reference to Myanmar’s neighbour in the north, China.
Myanmar military spokesperson Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun later elaborated on the comment made by the Commander-in-Chief of Myanmar’s armed forces.
The spokesperson said the army chief was referring to Arakan Army (AA) and Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), terrorist organisations active in the Rakhine State in western Myanmar that borders China.
A ‘foreign country’ is behind the Arakan Army (AA), he said, citing China-made weapons that terror group used in mine attacks on the military in 2019.
It is unusual for the Myanmar leadership to point fingers at China. But this isn’t the first time that Naypyitaw had alluded to the Chinese connection.
When the Myanmar military busted a huge cache of weapons including surface-to-air missiles – each costing between USD 70,000 and 90,000 – from the banned Ta’ang National Liberation Army in November 2019, the military had underlined the Chinese connection to the weapons.
Most of the weapons seized by the force are “Chinese weapons,” military spokesperson Major General Tun Tun Nyi had declared.
The Myanmarese ethnic rebel groups operating along the Chinese border mostly use Chinese weapons, prompting suspicions about Beijing’s role as part of an effort to keep Myanmar under control.
China has a long history of arming Myanmar insurgents .
From the mid-fifties , China’s Communist regime armed and trained Burmese Communist Party ( BCP) , then a force of 15-20,000 fighters , until the BCP withered away in the late 1980s.
It now arms the United Wa State Army , the Arakan Army and several other rebel groups , even as it arms and equips the Myammar Army Tatmadaw .
” The Chinese hunt with the hare and swims with the crocodile, but they manage to do what we can’t , play both ways,” says Maj-Gen Gaganjit Singh , former deputy chief of Defense Intelligence Agency.
But Singh said Myanmar has seen through Chinese perfidy and was now drawing close to the Indian Army in its fight against the Arakan Army.