Updated: November 22, 2021 08:20 AM GMT
Protesters holding torches and an LGBT flag take part in a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon on Nov. 20. (Photo: AFP)
China has begun a summit with leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) without a representative from Myanmar as the junta chief has been banned from attending.
Chinese President Xi Jinping began a virtual summit on Nov. 22 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of bilateral relations between China and ASEAN.
Myanmar’s junta chief Min Aung Hlaing is not attending the summit and its ambassador to China will attend instead, according to Reuters news agency.
It cited a government source in an ASEAN country that “Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei have agreed to maintain the same position as they did with the ASEAN summit.”
China lobbied for the Myanmar junta to attend the summit, according to a Reuters report citing diplomatic sources.
The reason for banning the junta chief is not clear but this is the second time Min Aung Hlaing has been barred from a regional summit within a month.
Min Aung Hlaing and his brutal regime continue to commit grave human rights violations while attempting to receive legitimacy through China
“China actively supports Myanmar, an important member of the ASEAN family, in working together with ASEAN to implement the five-point consensus on Myanmar reached by ASEAN,” said China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson.
He added that Sun Guoxiang, special envoy for Asian affairs of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, visited Myanmar and other ASEAN countries recently.
The junta chief was banned from attending the ASEAN summit on Oct. 26 which US president Joe Biden and leaders from China and Russia joined following the failure to implement a peace plan Min Aung Hlaing agreed to at the April meeting.
A special summit in Jakarta in April attended by the junta leader had reached a five-point consensus which included ending violence, constructive talks among all parties concerned and sending aid to Myanmar.
The ASEAN special envoy has yet to visit the country and may not be allowed to meet with Myanmar’s deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest and facing a raft of charges.
The United Nations and countries including the US and China have urged ASEAN to move forward with diplomatic efforts to return Myanmar to stability.
“Min Aung Hlaing and his brutal regime continue to commit grave human rights violations while attempting to receive legitimacy through China, a country that notoriously lacks respect for human rights,” said Charles Santiago, president of the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights.
He said ASEAN must demonstrate that it is a collection of independent and sovereign states whose principles will not be compromised to allow them to be “China’s puppets.”
“China’s apparent attempt to prevail on the nations of Southeast Asia to legitimize a junta accused of atrocities, including genocide, presents a significant challenge and opportunity to ASEAN. Our leaders must hold the line and show the world a drastically new and tougher approach to Myanmar,” Santiago said.
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