Myanmar Spring Chronicle – August 20 Scenes
MoeMaKa, August 21, 2023
Do you see the smoke flaring up from the burning villages when you take a look at Myanmar from abroad?
Myanmar is mainly an agricultural country. According to statistics on the Internet, there are a total of 32 million acres, and 20% of the country’s land area is used as agricultural land. 65% of Myanmar’s working population are farmers. It is said that 60% of the country’s products come from these crops.
From now on, the country’s civil war has entered its 3rd year, and the farmers are still struggling to do their agricultural work amidst the war. Starting from central Myanmar (the Anyar region) where the war is intense, we can imagine the loss of a large amount of agricultural land and production capacity up to Rakhine State and southern Myanmar. Under the Myanmar Military Council, villages and farmlands are being burnt down, people are fleeing leaving the crops, the army is burning the crops along with the villages, and the army’s supporters (Pyu Saw Htee) are also committing looting and theft. Then, the prices rose 1 to 2 times higher.
According to a list released on August 22 by the Rice Traders Association, the price of rice has risen by 70 percent, according to Radio NUG reporter Ma Kyae Mone. She said that rice production is estimated to be dropped by 70 percent. What she added is that there is a decrease in upland farmers, a decrease in crop acres, and high prices, as well as a decline in the quality of crops, which is causing trade to continue to decline. If agricultural trade with neighboring countries like China, India, Bangladesh, and Thailand is already declining, it will not recover immediately.
Therefore, if you look at Myanmar from outside of Myanmar, I started asking if you can see the burning smoke in the villages, and I want to remind you to see the current social life conditions of the people who have been destroyed under the smoke, as well as the future of the country, which will be rebuilt through the burnt land.
Another piece of news is that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, who was visiting Beijing, on Saturday, according to the Manila Times. Thailand has so far delayed handing over power from the hands of the Thai military to an elected government, so it seems that the Chinese government is trying to convey a message to the Thai government, which has not yet given up power. It is written that the Chinese Foreign Minister said in the meeting on August 19 that the development of bilateral relations will not be affected by changes in the international situation or the domestic situation in Thailand.
Although facing challenges in the political economy itself, the Chinese government does not need to hand over power to the opposition or the winner of the election, so the message seems to be that they will continue with the stability of Southeast Asia, peace in the South China Sea, and the regional construction development projects they have set.
In relation to Myanmar, it is proof that China is only willing to adjust according to its national interests and schedule. We can see that they are working with the Military Council leader, Min Aung Hlaing, on the priority of maintaining and operating Chinese projects, Chinese businesses, and the safety of the Chinese people. It seems that they have said that they will continue according to their schedule regarding the Letpadaung Taung and Myitsone projects, and it must be assumed that they will continue according to the non-conflict understanding and relationship with China’s related ethnic armed groups.
Just as China’s relationship with Myanmar is different from ASEAN principles, the United States, one of the western countries, has increased financial sanctions against the Myanmar Military Council and its allies, as well as adjusting aid to the Myanmar people.
Although it will be submitted to the Senate in the next two weeks that the State Department Appropriations Bill will provide 121 million US dollars for Myanmar in 2024, the Appropriation Committee of the House of Representatives is preparing to ask the House of Representatives to allocate only 50 million for Myanmar.
As a result, the voices of exhortation Myanmar people in the U.S. to write and phone the relevant members of the U.S. House of Representatives to ask them not to limit aid money to Myanmar, have become loud. On hearing such a voice, Nay Tin Myint, a Myanmar activist from New York, commented that he hopes Myanmar to receive 120 million, and that it is important to prioritize non-lethal aid to Myanmar rather than humanitarian aid. NUG’s Deputy Foreign Minister U Moe Zaw Oo commented that – since the Senate is made up of members of the ruling party and the House of Representatives is made up of members of the opposition Republican Party, they may have different opinions.
Myanmar’s Spring Revolution is achieving pace due to the unrestricted (not mention non-lethal) multi-faceted assistance of Burmese exiles, but we are also aware of how the international aid’s standards, regulations, and limits have been advancing step by step until it has been almost 2 or 3 years since the revolution.
When you look at Myanmar, seeing the big smoke billowing from the villages, you will wonder what international aid, UN aid, and agencies are thinking about. It may be something like how many gallons of clean drinking water, how many meals for the family, rain shelters, flushing toilets, medicines, mental health professionals, how many pairs of shoes and clothes, how many groups of experts, how many chartered flights to Nay Pyi Taw, 78 roses to give if case of meeting with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.