UNIFYING CONCERN IN MYANMAR’S CIVIL WAR
China’s resolute commitment to combat transnational criminal networks sends a clear signal to all stakeholders in Myanmar’s ongoing civil war to address the issue of transnational crimes proactively.
Despite the SAC’s criticism of the movie, the junta has collaborated with China to combat cybercrimes. In September 2023, the SAC extradited thousands of Chinese nationals linked to these unlawful operations back to China.
Despite enduring a series of military setbacks in the wake of the surprise offensive conducted by the MNDAA and its allies in October, the SAC persists in placing transnational crimes at the forefront of its negotiation agenda with their Chinese counterparts. This helps the diplomatically isolated junta to retain the support of China.
The SAC also wants to leverage China’s influence on ethnic armed groups, which is vital to prevent the northern Shan state crisis from escalating. The SAC is also willing to violate Myanmar’s foreign policy by allowing Chinese special police forces to operate within the country in a desperate effort to maintain ties with China.
The SAC is not alone in seeking to curry favour with China. The United Wa State Army, one of the largest ethnic armed groups in Myanmar, has repatriated thousands of offenders to China to maintain its close economic ties with the country.
Similarly, the MNDAA’s expressed goal of seeking to free the Kokang region from the influence of criminal syndicates and cyberscams appears to be an attempt to secure China’s tacit approval for the new offensive. Taken together, it appears that warring factions in Myanmar’s civil war are now engaged in a race to eradicate cybercrimes, vying to garner favour from China.
For China, the successful cross-border actions present a substantial public relations coup, enabling it to burnish its image as a champion of justice and security in the region – a narrative of immense potential that Beijing cannot afford to disregard. This may motivate all parties in Myanmar’s civil war to maintain their efforts against cybercrime. In an unexpected twist, cybercrime has become a unifying concern in Myanmar’s civil war.
Kyi Sin is a Research Officer at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute. This commentary first appeared on the institute’s blog, Fulcrum.