After a decade of democratic experiment, the army of Myanmar detained Aung San Suu Kyi, president Win Myint, and other members of government this Monday. This is the first coup in the country since 1988, even though the army never left key positions of power during the democratic transition. However, after the resounding victory of Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD party in the recent elections, gaining 83 per cent of the contested parliamentary seats, they decided to launch their attack on the political system.
The effects of the coup in the international front were immediate. Although China, Myanmar’s largest trade partner, first called it a cabinet reshuffle, it ended up joining the rest of the UN Security Council in calling for the freeing Aung San Suu Kyi and the rest of the Burmese government. Meanwhile, the US have called for international solidarity, while threatening the generals with resuming sanctions.
President Joe Biden also gave his first foreign policy address, calling China “the most direct competitor to the US,” and pledging “to confront their economic abuses, coercive actions, attacks on Human Rights, intellectual property and global governance”. Conversely, Yang Jiechi, China’s top diplomat, told the US to stay away from Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet. During the last week, Hong Kong has become a hotspot of Chinese politics, with schools introducing the new National Security Law in their curriculum, and reports of professors and principals who would be liable for actions against the law by their students.
At the same time, Beijing simulated an attack against the USS Theodore Roosevelt last week. The operation, warning the aircraft carrier, was conducted to “show the US that China is prepared.” Yesterday, a US missile destroyer transited the Taiwan strait, in a routine operation that has been “closely examined” by the Chinese government. However, cooperation between the two powers also seems possible. President Biden argued that they would cooperate “when it is in America’s interest to do so,” and China recently appointed veteran diplomat Xie Zhenhua as Special envoy for Climate. John Kerry, Biden’s own Climate Czar, has called Xie a capable leader in the fight against climate change.
In India, protests against government continue, along with increased repression. New Delhi recently urged Twitter to ban accounts linked to hashtags connected to the protests. At the same time, the colonial-era Sedition Law has been increasingly used, including against a member of Congress and seven journalists. However, this increased repression could backfire, as celebrities such as Greta Thunberg (who tweeted a protest toolkit for demonstrators) or Rihanna have drawn international attention to the protests. The US government has stated that, despite supporting the contentious laws, they call for dialogue and respect for peaceful protesters.