Naypyitaw [Myanmar], May 27 (ANI): Myanmar's military leader General Min Aung Hlaing has reassured Beijing that his regime will protect foreign-funded enterprises in the country, including Chinese investment, in a sign that suggests robust relations between the junta and China.
"We will protect all foreign-funded enterprises [in the country]," he told Hong Kong media, adding that Myanmar citizens are not anti-China, reported The Irrawaddy.
This comes amid growing anger towards China among Myanmar people due to Beijing's perceived support for the military regime, which has severely cracked down on peaceful anti-coup protesters, leading to hundreds of deaths.
Min Aung Hlaing further said that attacks on China-backed factories are not a result of anti-China sentiment in Myanmar and that the political situation in the country is to blame.
Following the military coup on February 1, the anti-China feeling has soared in Myanmar and some 13 to 14 Chinese-backed factories in Yangon have since been damaged or suffered arson attacks, reported The Irrawaddy.
Pro-democracy protesters have also called for people to oppose all Chinese projects and to boycott Chinese products in the country. However, China remains one of the few countries in the world which is willing to do business with the ruling junta and invest heavily in the country as international investors are turning away from Myanmar due to human rights abuses.
Chinese media had reported that 32 factories built with Chinese investment had been vandalised, with around USD 37 million in damage caused by the arson attacks, following which Beijing demanded Myanmar's military regime to act to protect Chinese interests and citizens.
During his interview, Min Aung Hlaing said that he had urged the Yangon regional authority to exercise its responsibility for the protection of Chinese-funded projects in the country.
Myanmar's economy is expected to contract by 10 per cent this year in the aftermath of the coup, reported The Irrawaddy, as many foreign investors are pulling their investment from existing projects.
In April, a report by the UK-based think tank Chatham House warned that China's refusal to condemn the military regime endangers its interests in Myanmar as anti-Chinese sentiment grows, despite the junta's efforts to implement the BRI projects, reported The Irrawaddy.
Senior research fellow Dr Gareth Price said, "China's 'laissez-faire' attitude so far puts them under threat, as some Chinese factories have been burned down and protesters have threatened to blow up pipelines."
Beijing has called for dialogue to resolve the political crisis in Myanmar, while labelling the coup "an internal affair" and saying that the international community should not interfere.
China has also failed to demonstrate sympathy towards the innocent civilians killed by the regime's security forces during their deadly crackdowns, prompting many Myanmar people to believe that Beijing is supporting the junta. (ANI)