Myanmar has sought international help to suppress rebel outfits active in the nation which are reportedly supported with sophisticated weapons by “strong forces”, apparently China, reported Hindustan Times on Thursday (July 2).
The claim has been made by Myanmar’s Senior General Min Aung Hlaing in an interview to Russian state-run TV channel Zvezda, it reported. He claimed that these insurgent groups are being backed by “strong forces”, in an apparent reference to China.
This came as a surprise since China has been Myanmar’s closest ally in southeast Asia.
Elaborating on the remarks made by the Senior General, the nation’s military spokesperson Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun later said that the Commander-in-Chief was referring to the Arakan Army (AA) and Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).
The AA and ARSA are terrorist outfits operating in the Rakhine State of western Myanmar, bordering China. Pointing out that China-made weapons were used in mine attacks in 2019, the spokesperson claimed the AA was backed by a “foreign country”.
Earlier, the Myanmar military had claimed Chinese links to the huge cache of weapons that were seized from the banned Ta’ang National Liberation Army last year. Army spokesperson Major General Tun Tun Nyi had claimed those were “Chinese weapons,” it said.
However, China has denied supplying weapons to the armed outfits. During his Myanmar visit this January, Chinese President Xi Jinping had pointed out that the rebel groups had other ways to procure Chinese weapons, the report said.
Myanmar viewed this as China’s tactic to keep it “unstable”, while using its influence with terrorist organisations for the implementation of Belt and Road Initiative projects. Beijing has also been trying to push an economic corridor between the two nations to gain access to the Bay of Bengal and eastern Indian Ocean Region, it quoted officials as saying.