The ongoing violence in Myanmar may have faded into the background of global media coverage as much more intense conflict shapes up within and along Ukraine’s borders in Eastern Europe and as Washington raises the prospect of direct conflict with China in Asia. However, Myanmar’s conflict serves as a point of destabilization which may impact the wider stability of Southeast Asia and thus undermine China in a more indirect but still significant manner.
Myanmar’s Fight Against Foreign Interference
The conflict began when Myanmar’s military took power from the government of Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) party in February 2021. While the Western media portrays this as an undemocratic military dictatorship deposing an elected government – Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD through their collective US backing – had hijacked the nation’s electoral system.
The US National Endowment for Democracy’s (NED) webpage for Myanmar (still called by its British colonial nomenclature “Burma” by the NED) has at least 57 programs and organizations listed involving every aspect of Myanmar’s society from education and the judicial system, to media, ethnic relations, political campaigning, and supposed “human rights” advocacy groups.
With millions of dollars a year pouring in from the US government through NED, a powerful political machine was created capable of effortlessly installing into power pro-Western candidates through elections tainted by this blatant and extensive foreign interference.
Compounding this foreign interference was the fact that Aung San Suu Kyi’s administration included as key high-level advisors two British citizens (Robert San Pe and Joseph Fisher) and an Australian citizen (Sean Turnell). They crafted policy for everything from overhauling Myanmar’s judicial system, to its economic policy, to rewriting Myanmar’s constitution.
The military’s seizure of power was meant to uproot this foreign interference and restore sovereignty throughout Myanmar’s institutions.