A flight from Kunming loaded with Chinese IT techs to seal off Myanmar’s internet. Chinese security forces masquerading as Burmese soldiers. An uncertain dictator evacuating his family.
These are the rumors swirling through Myanmar 15 days after its military staged a coup d’etat the public has refused to accept. And while the reality paints a bleak enough picture of soldiers abducting students, pro-democracy figures and civil servants in the dead of night, fear that China will bring its expertise to bear in suppressing dissent is giving ample fuel to conspiracy theories.
People yesterday were calling out the appearance of unfamiliar fair- and light-skinned soldiers blocking the Central Bank on No. 1 Industrial Road in Yangon’s Yankin Township, casting doubts about the identity of the strange soldiers.
“Are those made in #China coz myanmar military are not fair like them,” @ThetHtarSuKyi tweeted with photos of the soldiers wearing standard army uniforms.
— Thet Htar Su Kyi (@ThetHtarSuKyi) February 15, 2021
Anger has run high against China and Russia after they vetoed a U.N. Security Council condemnation of the coup. Large crowds have gathered in front of their embassies in Myanmar to denounce their governments’ inaction.
Still, a popular uprising against military rule continued today for an 11th consecutive day, despite armored units flooding the streets of cities to suppress them. More than 30 universities and over 100,000 civil servants, including 15 ministries and medical schools, along with some members of the police force, are taking part in the growing Civil Disobedience Movement they hope will shut down the dictatorship in its infancy.
Fear the government would enlist Chinese aid in walling off the internet bubbled again last night when more flights arrived from Kunming, China. Last week, rumors spread that six late-night cargo flights were ferrying Chinese technical consultants and equipment into Yangon International Airport at a time the internet was cut off nationwide.
Just seafood for Chinese New Year festivities, according to the China’s embassy.
All it took was a clip of a plane landing at midnight in Yangon to bolster rumors that junta leader Min Aung Hlaing, uncertain of his grip on power, had evacuated his family abroad Sunday night.
The night raids and arrests haven’t deterred the public, which has turned out in the tens of thousands to loudly object to the coup and demand the release of detained civilian leadership including Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.
The army has reportedly used live ammunition against protesters in at least one incident, though there have been no known fatalities as of yet.
An 8pm to 4am curfew has been in effect nationwide since February 7, and armored vehicles have recently begun roaming the streets of Yangon in the evening. Tanks have been spotted in other cities since the curfew.
Aung San Suu Kyi, who hasn’t been seen publicly since she was taken into custody, was expected to appear in court today at a hearing. Her lawyer announced that it was postponed until Wednesday, adding that he had not been allowed to see her since she was arrested.
This article, Fear that China will secure junta rule feeds rumors of conspiracy in Myanmar, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.