SOURCE / ECONOMY
Chinese companies in Myanmar face potential disruption amid rising tensions
Published: Sep 08, 2021 07:03 PM
Seized drugs are burnt in Yangon, Myanmar, June 26, 2021. Myanmar ceremonially incinerated seized narcotic drugs in the cities of Yangon, Mandalay and Taunggyi on Saturday, marking the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. (Photo: Xinhua)

Seized drugs are burnt in Yangon, Myanmar, June 26, 2021. Myanmar ceremonially incinerated seized narcotic drugs in the cities of Yangon, Mandalay and Taunggyi on Saturday, marking the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. (Photo: Xinhua)


Some Chinese state-owned companies in Myanmar said that they encountered certain disruptions, and they are following contingency plans such as asking some local employees to stay at home and suspending operations amid rising tensions in Myanmar.

Chinese business and industry insiders fear that some Western media and organizations have attempted to inflame or divert the local attention to Chinese-invested enterprises or projects, which would pose difficulties for Chinese-invested enterprises.

China Communications Construction Co said that it had launched emergency measures soon after seeing the news about the revolt.

"But the supply of social materials is so far sufficient, and the company's operations and project production are progressing in an orderly manner," the company said in an exclusive statement sent to the Global Times on Wednesday.

The company is involved in the construction of new billion-dollar infrastructure projects in Yangon, which are intended to serve the increasing population of the region.

Another large company in the infrastructure and power installation sector told the Global Times on Wednesday that while it is paying close attention to the development of the situation, some of its projects in Myanmar have been temporarily delayed, and not all the employees are on duty for safety and security reasons.

Most of the Chinese companies there are in a "sleep state" or on standby, with few still open for business, a source with a local Chinese company told the Global Times on Wednesday.

"Many who are already on duty are afraid to go out, and with the local currency weakening and fears over tightened supplies, local residents are snapping up food," the source said.

While contingency measures are already in place amid the worsening situation, as of now, there have been no unusual incidents. The military is stepping up its guard in big cities, a person familiar with the matter told the Global Times on condition of anonymity.

"There have been no organized, large-scale conflicts and mass incidents in Yangon and other major cities," China Communications Construction Co confirmed on Wednesday.

Myanmar's shadow government, the National Unity Government (NUG), composed of the ousted National League for Democracy (NLD) lawmakers, on Tuesday launched a "people's defensive war" against the military government, urging citizens across the country to revolt against military rule by joining the "public revolution." 

In a video address, acting president of the NUG Duwa Lashi La called on the People's Defense Forces and ethnic armed forces to "immediately attack" the military.

Such a response by Chinese companies is understandable, experts said, given what happened in the political crisis in February, when dozens of Chinese-invested factories in an industrial zone in Myanmar's commercial capital Yangon were vandalized and some Chinese employees injured, according to media reports.

There were cases where some Western media and social organizations attempted to inflame or divert local attention to Chinese-funded enterprises, which has caused certain difficulties for Chinese-invested enterprises, said Zhao Gancheng, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, on Wednesday.

Zhao noted that "under the circumstances, Chinese-funded enterprises will take measures to avoid risks."

The expert said that the situation in Myanmar is volatile, because "civil war" might break out, given the fact that the local armed forces were originally at odds with the military government, and they might be just taking advantage of this opportunity but not necessarily helping the NLD.

"But the local armed forces in Myanmar are far from strong enough to pose a major threat to the military government, so the situation is not that severe at the moment," said Zhao.
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