Myanmar coup just a Cabinet reshuffle, says Chinese state media

A food delivery rider making his way past military police in Yangon yesterday.
A food delivery rider making his way past military police in Yangon yesterday. PHOTOS: EPA-EFE, REUTERS
Armoured vehicles from the Myanmar army moving along a street yesterday in the city of Mandalay. On Monday, the Myanmar military declared a one-year state of emergency in the country.
Armoured vehicles from the Myanmar army moving along a street yesterday in the city of Mandalay. On Monday, the Myanmar military declared a one-year state of emergency in the country. PHOTOS: EPA-EFE, REUTERS

BEIJING • The military takeover in Myanmar and detention of Ms Aung San Suu Kyi were "a major Cabinet reshuffle", according to Chinese state media, which rolled out the euphemism to avoid calling the actions a coup.

As democratic leaders around the world slammed the Myanmar military and President Joe Biden said the United States was "taking note" of who was standing up for Myanmar's people, China's communist leadership took a softly-softly approach.

Beijing called for all parties in Myanmar to "resolve their differences", and the official Xinhua news agency on Monday described the military replacing elected ministers after the coup as a "major Cabinet reshuffle".

The nationalist Global Times, meanwhile, quoted unnamed experts as saying that the generals' power grab could be seen as "an adjustment to the country's dysfunctional power structure".

But the paper - known for its fiery commentaries against China's critics - also used the occasion to take a pop at former US president Donald Trump, whose combative approach to Beijing had plunged US-China ties to their lowest level in decades.

"Some experts mentioned that... Trump, who refused to admit his election defeat and reportedly incited the Capitol riots, might be the Myanmar military's inspiration," it wrote.

Beijing has long rebuffed what it sees as interference in its internal affairs - such as criticism over its human rights record - and has taken a similarly neutral stance on most foreign affairs.

Myanmar is also a vital piece of Beijing's huge Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.

Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the country in January last year, and promised to support the Myanmar government on a development path "suited to its own national conditions".

The Myanmar military has justified its seizure of power by alleging widespread fraud in elections held three months ago that the National League for Democracy won in a landslide. It has imposed a state of emergency for a year, and claimed it would then hold fresh elections.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 03, 2021, with the headline 'Myanmar coup just a Cabinet reshuffle, says Chinese state media'. Subscribe