The military coup and growing unrest in Myanmar are “absolutely not what China wants to see”, Beijing’s ambassador to the Southeast Asian country said in remarks published Tuesday.

Envoy Chen Hai’s comments come as anti-coup protests escalate in Myanmar and the military steps up efforts to stifle opposition, with hundreds arrested since the seizure of power on February 1.

A protester holds a sign calling for the release of detained Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon. Photo: Sai Aung Main/AFP.

“We noticed Myanmar’s domestic dispute regarding the election for some time, but we were not informed in advance of the political change,” Chen said in comments released on the website of the Chinese embassy in Myanmar.

Traditional allies of Myanmar’s armed forces, such as China and Russia, had previously pushed back against international outcry over the coup, calling it interference in the country’s “internal affairs”.

Chinese state media earlier described the putsch and detention of de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi as “a major cabinet reshuffle”, rolling out euphemisms to avoid labelling the situation a coup.

But in Tuesday’s remarks, Chen said: “The current development in Myanmar is absolutely not what China wants to see.”

Chen Hai
Chen Hai. File photo: Chinese gov’t.

He added that China hoped all parties could handle differences properly, maintaining political and social stability.

Chen said the UN Security Council’s recent press statement calling for reconciliation and the immediate release of all those detained “reflects the common position of the international community, including China”.

The military has justified its power seizure by alleging widespread voter fraud in November elections that Suu Kyi’s party won.

In the two weeks since the generals ousted Suu Kyi and put her under house arrest in the administrative capital Naypyidaw, big cities and isolated village communities alike have been in open revolt.

aung san suu kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi. Photo: Wikicommons.

On the civil disobedience movement, with street demonstrations and people petitioning outside embassies, Chen said: “We… mentioned their reasonable demands when we strove to promote dialogues among different parties of Myanmar.”

He maintained that the “change of political situation” was an “internal affair”, although adding that it would have spillover effects on Myanmar’s relations with its neighbours.

But with rumours circulating on social media of China’s involvement in the affair, including claims that Chinese soldiers appeared on the streets of Myanmar, or that China was helping the country build an internet firewall — Chen hit back, calling them “nonsense and even ridiculous”.

Apart from deploying extra troops, Myanmar’s junta recently choked the internet for two straight nights while cracking down on protests.

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