Global Insight: Possible China influenced events in Myanmar

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It is possible that China played a role in this week’s military coup in Myanmar, Professor Robert Patman says.

‘‘We don’t know at this stage, but I’m wondering if the Myanmar military had sounded out China,’’ the international affairs specialist told the ODT's Global Insight today.

On Monday, the Myanmar army assumed political power and detained the leaders of the country's democratically elected government, including it's leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the second vice-president Henry Van Thio (who spent several years in Dunedin during the early-2000s).

What is known, Prof Patman says, is that democratic protests in Hong Kong and Taiwan’s ongoing democratic evolution have been unsettling to the authoritarian Chinese government.

‘‘It would be interesting to know whether the Chinese leadership prefer the Myanmar military back in charge rather than someone who has just been elected by a landslide . . . presiding over what appears to be a resurging democracy.’’

On Global Insight this week, Prof Patman also answers questions about why the military coup has taken place at this time, how global leaders decide their response to events such as military takeovers and what New Zealand’s response should be.

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