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Opinion | ASEAN condemned attack on aid convoy in Myanmar with no solutions, China may have a way forward

By Augustus K. Yeung


With all eyes on the Russia-Ukraine conflict in Eastern Europe, the civil war in Myanmar has not been given due attention, not to mention humanitarian treatments.

The reason?!

Uncle Sam is busy fighting a proxy war with Russia in Europe, and Uncle Joe (his real name) is shadow-boxing a bout with arch-rival Donald Trump – in the national political arena of US domestic politics that stretches into the general election in 2024.

For now, Myanmar is blessed, but not for good!

As the ASEAN bloc is neither able nor ready to handle the situation, which is getting worse day by day, threatening to flare into an all-out civil war, like the one China was fighting in the last century.

Yesterday's Chinese CPC comrades are the mirror image of today's Myanmar young blood, whose future depends on such an experienced Asian neighbor; the Party has had a proven record of fighting off old-fashioned warlords, rejuvenating the nation.

Of all the countries in the world, regardless of ideological inclination, modern China is the only one that can possibly be expected to understand the plights of the Asian new generation in Myanmar.

Full of feelings, I can imagine in revolutionary days, China's young men and women left their parents and homes, their teachers and schools, to join the revolution in Yan-an, the "red capital", extolled and immortalized by Edgar Snow, an American journalist who precisely and passionately reported their simple but heroic lives, deeds and hopes.

The following short, summarized version illustrates the helplessness of not just the young men women of Myanmar, but the relatively mighty adult leaders of ASEAN, who are just as helpless in finding a way out for their war-torn fellow member state.

"We condemned the attack and underlined that the perpetrators must be held accountable," the ASEAN statement said.

The leaders condemned an attack on an aid convoy that the regional group had arranged for the displaced people in Myanmar, calling for an immediate stop to violence and for the military government to comply with the "five-point peace plan".

Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations convened in the picturesque harbor town of Labuan Bajo in southern Indonesia at the start of a two-day summit. Their host, President Joko Widodo, called for unity amid global economic headwinds and major power rivalry that is lashing the region.

The 10-nation bloc has come under international pressure to effectively address the crisis in Myanmar. But ASEAN members appeared to be divided on how to proceed, with some recommending easing punitive actions aimed at isolating Myanmar's generals and invite its top diplomat and officials back to the high-profile summit meetings.

"The time for isolation has served its purpose," said an internal ASEAN report obtained by The Associated Press.

Over the weekend, a convoy delivering aid to displaced villagers and carrying Indonesian and Singaporean diplomats came under fire in Myanmar's eastern Shan state. A security team with the convoy returned fire and a vehicle was damaged, but there were no injuries, state-run television MRTV reported.

"We condemned the attack and underlined that the perpetrators must be held accountable," the ASEAN leaders said in a joint statement. (Source: MDT/AP)


Two years after seizing power, ousting the democratically elected government of Suu Kyi in 2021, the generals are still facing tough resistance from the opposition's General Strike Coordination Body, formed soon after the takeover.

Currently, the physical conflicts have spread from rural to urban areas, and so are the significant numbers of people from both sides, sustaining serious casualties and deaths.

Considerably, the Myanmar economy, too, dragged by conflict, has only seen a mere "3% growth". World Bank report.

The latest joint statement from ASEAN only confirms that violence is still the chosen response of the day; even the convoy, which was meant to assist the various factions to reach a political settlement, was violently attacked.

What then?

Indonesia's joint statement has now made it clear that the solution will neither come from the warring factions, nor the ASEAN bloc.

Should the people of Myanmar wait for outside parties such as the EU or Washington, whose habitual way of solving the problem is through violence, the superpower-style?

It would spell disaster. (Remember the Vietnam War?!)

The Biden administration and its Western allies are now busy fighting and fueling their war with Russia; they have taken note of the Myanmar situation, but with tightened hands.

In contrast, the timing is right: A committed China and the clear-minded ASEAN member states can concertedly hammer out a peaceful solution – and so save Myanmar and the region from devastation, or future American military aggression. But how?!

By now, it's crystal clear that ASEAN alone is unable to handle the conflict situation. If China steps in, a permanent peace plan can be worked out.

China – as a next-door neighbor and a regional economic superpower – can help to demilitarize the Myanmar army – for good, which is the root of the problem. (So that there will be no more coups!)

But a beneficial and humanitarian grand resettlement plan must be lay out for the ruling military personnel, turning the complex into peace-keeping armed police, anti-corruption administrators and social service leaders – to be trained by a credit-worthy China and its ASEAN partners, if agreeable and necessary.

This long period of transition and modernization of a backward state can take 5, 10, fifteen, or even twenty years, depending on the results of detailed discussions agreed on by all interested parties.

China's role will be that of an honest broker, an altruistic and fair-minded permanent UN Security Council member, able, willing and ready with lots of economic and financial sacrifices along the road of peacebuilding in Myanmar.

What China gets is an unparalleled international image of a peace maker in Asia-Pacific.

Such revolutionary mindset is a win-win crisis-management module – for inclusive political parties, regional countries, and two economic superpowers.

The author is a freelance writer; formerly Adjunct Lecturer, taught MBA Philosophy of Management, and International Strategy, and online columnist of 3-D Corner (HKU SPACE), University of Hong Kong.


The views do not necessarily reflect those of DotDotNews.

Read more articles by Augustus K. Yeung:

Opinion | With China-India ties in limbo try a breakthrough for permanent peace

Opinion | President Xi initiated push to end Ukraine war; it seems working


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