With the civil war in Myanmar entering its third year, Beijing’s support for the military regime in Nyapidaw is still continuing, but there have been changes: “For the first time since China was seated at the UN Security Council in 1971, it opted to water down rather than veto the resolution on Myanmar” (USIP, 24 February 2023).
World Watch Research analyst Thomas Muller comments: “In the past, the Chinese Communist Party could always be counted on to shield the military rulers in Myanmar from any harsh UN criticism. There are now signs, however, pointing to a shift in the Chinese position. When in December 2022 yet another UN Security Council resolution on Myanmar was introduced, China’s stance changed and did not simply veto the whole thing. In another strong, yet underreported, signal, the new Chinese Asian affairs special envoy, first met with northern ethnic armed organizations in Myanmar before meeting with the country’s military leaders. China is possibly reacting to the increasing reputational cost of its former Myanmar policy, especially among ASEAN members.”
Thomas Muller adds: “This may point to China preparing for Myanmar to break apart into some form of future ‘balkanization’ of the country, which would be likely to create new levels of insecurity for the Christian population. But that is probably a long way off. Meanwhile the military regime’s deep mistrust of the Christian population (which is a majority in Chin state) became apparent in the recent restrictions being brought into play in Chin state. Not only is a strict curfew in place, there are now new regulations requiring all churches to provide lists with the names of members intending to attend church services each week (UCA News, 3 March 2023).”