In an article, Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Myanmar, George N Sibley said Beijing has been unrelenting in her efforts to “undermine” democratic set-ups which could impact the neighbourhood amid at a time when the world is battling the Covid-19 pandemic.
The US Embassy in Myanmar has said China’s crackdown on democracy in the region and its growing aggression is impacting sovereignty in the region.
Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Myanmar, George N Sibley, penned down an article in a local news portal, Irrawaddy.com, ‘How the Erosion of Sovereignty Elsewhere Impacts Myanmar at Home’ where he explained how “People’s Republic of China has continued its crackdown on democracy and disrespect for other nations’ sovereignty”.
At a time when the world is battling the Covid-19 pandemic, the officer said Beijing has been unrelenting in her efforts to “undermine” democratic set-ups which could impact the neighbourhood.
“The PRC also continued its unprecedented campaign to undermine the sovereignty of ASEAN countries in the South China Sea.For Myanmar, these disputes may seem far away, but Beijing’s actions there are part of a larger pattern to undermine the sovereignty of its neighbors,” he argued.
“China’s actions in Hong Kong and the South China Sea alarm the United States and our friends and allies because these kinds of actions — breaking promises, ignoring the well-being of smaller nations, rewriting history — can happen anywhere,” he added.
While the Chinese influence on Yangon has been an area of huge concern for Washington DC, the officer drew a comparison of the violations of international rules and laws and “false claims” over the South China Sea islands despite the Arbitral Tribunal rejecting Beijing’s maritime claims, to the advances that they are now making that will land the Myanmar in a debt trap.
“These events are taking place far from Myanmar, but the PRC has used similar behavior to intimidate, threaten, and undermine Myanmar sovereignty closer to home. Instead of demarcating fisheries, it takes the shape of unregulated banana plantations in Kachin State that thrive on forced labor and damage the environment. Instead of spurious maritime claims, it takes the shape of unregulated investment and corruption in the mining and forestry sectors. Instead of island building, it takes the shape of infrastructure projects and special economic zones that pile on debt and cede regulatory control, and benefit China far more than they do the people of Myanmar,” wrote Sibley.
He emphasised, “This is how modern sovereignty is often lost — not through dramatic, overt action, but through a cascade of smaller ones that lead to its slow erosion over time.”
Blaming China for the scourge of illicit narcotics and the violence it inflicts on communities in the country, George Sibley wrote, “Far too many young Myanmar women are duped with the promise of high-paying jobs or husbands in China, only to be sold to human traffickers who exploit them for labor and sex. Nearly 80 percent of Myanmar’s reported human trafficking cases in 2019 involved women being trafficked to China.”
Calling for a “free” and “rules-based order”, he urged the global. Community to stand up to China’s bullying in the region and reaffirmed US’ position of standing by ASEAN nations.
“Whether in the South China Sea, in Myanmar, or elsewhere, the United States joins ASEAN nations in calling for a free and open rules-based order. When negotiating energy, communications, or transportation infrastructure projects, Myanmar benefits when it is not burdened by unnecessary debt or exploited for strategic gain,” wrote the American diplomat.