Digital desk: The situation behind the Bamboo Curtain in Myanmar has deteriorated, with anti-military junta forces increasing their operations across the country and anti-China emotions running high due to China's exploitation of mineral reserves and support for the military regime.
Myanmar confirmed 647 conflict-related deaths last month, including 34 civilians, 581 security personnel, three militants, and 32 in fighting between pro-government and opposition forces. In April, 379 people died as a result of the war, including 17 civilians, 338 security personnel, 11 militants, and 13 resistance fighters. Overall, there was a 1.5-fold rise in fatalities in May compared to April, with security force fatalities climbing by 71.89 percent.
The 654 fatalities in May are the worst in a month since the military junta led by Senior General Min Aung Hliang rejected the democratic mandate in favour of National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a military coup in February 2021. Suu Kyi is currently under house arrest after being convicted on multiple offences by a military court.
With Hong Kong-listed private security contractors recruited by Chinese company Wanbao Mining in Salingyi township in Sagaing Region, anti-military junta resistance is growing in Myanmar, as is anti-China sentiment. This company has formed a joint venture with Myanmar's Economic Holdings Ltd to collect copper from the region's Letpadaung mines.
On May 1, local militia members opposed to the military junta ambushed a military ship transporting reinforcements and rations for a Chinese company on the Chindwin River. Resistance groups and Burmese expats have asked Beijing not to supply the military junta with weaponry and ammunition, and skirmishes between local militia and Myanmar security forces have occurred in the Sagaing copper mines.
At the Tokyo conference last month, Quad leaders also discussed Myanmar's ongoing political situation. The leaders of the four member countries – India, the United States, Australia, and Japan – voiced worry over the crisis and called for the ASEAN Five Point Consensus to be implemented as soon as possible.