The New York Times – Hannah Beech / ‘I will die protecting my country’. In Myanmar, a new resistance rises
- After weeks of peaceful protests, the frontline of Myanmar’s resistance to the Feb. 1 coup is mobilizing into a kind of guerrilla force. In the cities, protesters have built barricades to protect neighborhoods from military incursions and learned how to make smoke bombs on the internet.
- As in the past, the hard-line opposition is a defensive response to the military’s mounting reign of terror. The Tatmadaw has cracked down on peaceful protesters and unarmed bystanders alike, killing at least 275 people since the coup, according to a monitoring group.
- Any such movement will have to contend with a military that has ruled Myanmar by force for the better part of 60 years and has fought dozens of insurgencies for even longer. The Tatmadaw’s bloodthirst is notorious. Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the army chief who led the coup, has repeatedly commanded the extermination of entire villages, most chillingly the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims.
- If any armed rebellion is to succeed, it will need the backing of the ethnic insurgencies that have long been at war with the Tatmadaw. Last week, the Kachin Independence Army, which represents the Kachin of northern Myanmar, launched a surprise strike against the Tatmadaw.
- The Diplomat – Gerard McDermott / Have the Gates of Hell been opened upon Myanmar?
Washington Post – Min Joo Kim and John Hudson / North Korea fires more missiles
- North Korea fired two missiles Thursday, Japanese, South Korean and U.S. officials said, in a sign of growing tension between Washington and Pyongyang over military exercises the United States carried out with South Korea earlier this month. The launch marks Pyongyang’s second weapons test in a week after North Korea fired what South Korean officials called short-range cruise missiles.
- Japanese officials said North Korea’s test on Thursday was of ballistic missiles, which would be the first such launch in almost a year and violate U.N. Security Council resolutions.
- Pyongyang has so far snubbed the Biden administration’s diplomatic outreach to the country. North Korea’s first vice foreign minister, Choe Son Hui, denounced Washington’s proposals as a “delaying-time trick” that lacks substantive offers to satisfy the regime.
- “Kim Jong Un is determined to deal with the new U.S. administration from a position of strength. With China’s economic support, North Korea isn’t just going to accept whatever benefits the Biden policy review offers,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.
- Euractiv / North Korea missile launch tests Biden administration, Japan Olympics
Financial Times – Sam Fleming, Michael Peel, and George Parker / UK and EU move to calm tensions over access to jabs
- Britain and the European Commission on Wednesday issued a joint statement saying there had been discussions on developing a “reciprocally beneficial relationship” to tackle Covid-19. The statement committed both sides to work together “to create a win-win situation and expand vaccine supply for all our citizens”.
- Britain has offered to help boost production of the AstraZeneca vaccine at the Halix plant in the Dutch city of Leiden, and Downing Street has not ruled out the UK “giving up” some of the millions of doses it claims have been contracted to it. The EU also claims the vaccines.
- Breton is leading the commission’s effort to bolster vaccine production in the EU as Brussels seeks to recover from massive AstraZeneca delivery shortfalls in the first quarter of the year. London and Brussels have been in talks over how to handle their conflicting claims to deliveries of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab.
- Breton did not dispute AstraZeneca’s statement that 29m doses identified at a factory in Italy after a commission-ordered inspection were destined for the EU and the Covax international vaccine initiative aimed mainly at lower-income countries. Commission questions over the fate of the production had highlighted the breakdown in its relations with AstraZeneca.
- The Economist / Europe’s plans to restrict vaccine exports are dangerous
South China Morning Post / Germany’s Angela Merkel apologises for Easter lockdown U-Turn
- “The idea of an Easter shutdown was conceived with the best of intentions, because we absolutely have to slow down and reverse the third wave of the pandemic. Nevertheless, the idea of the so-called ‘Easter rest’ was a mistake,” she told journalists.
- The plan had included shutting down or vastly limiting business activities on April 1 and 3 – a Thursday and a Saturday.It triggered an enormous backlash, not only from industry and business leaders, who said they had been left in the dark as to what the Easter closures meant in practice, but also from experts, who argued it was not tough enough to prevent the exponential rise of infections.
- Merkel and her grand coalition – made up of the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) – have come under severe criticism over what was perceived as a bungled coronavirus containment strategy.The country’s slow vaccine roll-out has added fuel to the debate.
- German authorities reported 15,813 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, with the death toll rising by 248 to reach 75,212.The number of new infections per 100,000 residents over a seven-day period – a key metric in the pandemic – rose to 108.1 on Wednesday.
- Bloomberg – Arne Delfs and Iain Rogers / Merkel calls Easter shutdown a ‘mistake’ in rare apology
Today’s long read:
- Politico – Rym Momtaz / It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Emmanuel Macron