Orders on hold for some Chinese firms in Myanmar amid NUG's revolt call
Published: Sep 07, 2021 10:45 PM
Smoke rises after protesters burn tyres in Thakeyta Township, Yangon, Myanmar on March 27. Photo: VCG

Smoke rises after protesters burn tyres in Thakeyta Township, Yangon, Myanmar on March 27. Photo: VCG

Although the National Unity Government (NUG) announced a nationwide state of emergency on Tuesday, Chinese analysts predicted the country won't descend into another massive chaos because of significant gaps in military strength that the shadow government cannot compete. 

Yet some Chinese manufacturers with factories in the country have already received order suspensions from clients, the Global Times learned from local sources. 

The NUG - founded on April 16 and includes ousted politicians, leaders and activists - declared a nationwide state of emergency on Tuesday with a video posted on the NUG's Facebook account, saying it was launching a "defensive war" against the military.

In the video, acting NUG President Duwa Lashi La called on citizens in Myanmar to revolt against the rule of the military that took over state power on February 1, following the detention of State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint and other senior officials. 

The NUG also unveiled a new strategy aimed at pressuring the military through action by militias and ethnic forces as well as urging bureaucrats to leave government posts.  

The military has made no action in response to the NUG announcement. 

According to sources reached by the Global Times in Myanmar, the military had upgraded security in Yangon. Combat aircraft in some military bases were scrambled. The military also engaged the people's defense force in Karen state.   

Some residents in Yangon rushed into supermarkets to hoard goods, but the city remains stable, Hein Khaing, an expert on Myanmar and also secretary general of  the Myanmar-Chinese Youth Chamber of Commerce, told the Global Times on Tuesday.   

Several fighters were launched in the city of Mandalay, and the People's Defense Forces (PDF) responded to the call of NUG, with the Kachin Independence Army and Kokang showing support to NUG. Karen National Union had several skirmishes with the military government, according to local sources.  

He anticipated no large-scale armed conflicts but guerrilla warfare between the local People's Defense Forces and the military, which would increase the pressure in front of the military, which was echoed by several other Chinese experts.  

"Although scattered protests have been occurring across the country since the Myanmar military seized power, there has not been one that could really pose a real threat," Zhu Zhenming, a professor at the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

"Unless there are foreign forces behind the NUG that can feed it with weapons, there is little chance that the NUG will take concrete action," Zhu noted. 

The real intention behind the NUG acting president's remarks, Zhu added, may be more of creating a buzz among the public, by rendering a tense, civil war-like atmosphere that could continue to add fuel to the political uncertainty in the country. 

By restating its existence, the NUG is trying to put more pressure on the military government and draw attention and support from the Myanmar people, analysts added. 

Such calls could exacerbate Myanmar's already worsening epidemic, chaos and economic decline, Ge Hongliang, vice dean of the College of ASEAN Studies at Guangxi University for Nationalities, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

After the crisis in February, a lot of protests were launched in Myanmar with several being initiated by the National League for Democracy, but some of the protests were beyond the control of the league, from which we can see the presence of foreign forces and some foreign NGOs, Ge said.

"Under the instigation of foreign forces, how could the league control the situation?" Ge said.

Ge said the military is facing huge pressure from the COVID-19 epidemic, ethnic minority groups and international pressure. But "it is domestic affairs and cannot be addressed by outside forces."

The role played by the military government is difficult to shake and the league is only part of anti-military forces, which is not expected to make waves, Ge said.

Nevertheless, Chinese manufacturers in Myanmar have already felt the impact of the situation in the country. 

According to Luo Muzhen, Secretary General of the China Textile and Garment Association in Myanmar, Maersk, an integrated logistics company, on Tuesday informed their suppliers in Myanmar that they would suspend collection this week in view of the state of emergency. 

Before Tuesday's move of the NUG, the Confederation of Trade Unions, Myanmar and IndustriALL Global Union had called for brands to halt orders to suppliers in Myanmar out of consideration of the uncertainty. If the NUG and the military burst into bitter confrontations, more practical impact on the workers' willingness to work, trade and even the security of foreigners would follow, Luo told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

Several Chinese-invested factories in Myanmar were smashed, looted or burned by delinquents in March during the sudden change in the country's situation.    

A Chinese businessman living in Yangon told the Global Times on Tuesday that after the attacks, some factories have returned to China with others struggling to stay afloat. But some are enjoying booming business.    

But the businessman expressed concerns that more American and European clients would suspend or cut orders with Chinese factories in Myanmar if the situation worsens. 
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