China's ambassador to Myanmar says situation 'not what China wants to see'

FILE PHOTO: Myanmar students hold Myanmar and Chinese flags as they prepare to welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping outside of the airport in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, January 17, 2020. REUTERS/Ann Wang

(Reuters) - China’s ambassador to Myanmar said on Tuesday the current political situation was “absolutely not what China wants to see” and dismissed social media rumours of Chinese involvement in the Feb. 1 military coup as “completely nonsense”.

In an interview with local media posted on the Chinese embassy Facebook page, ambassador Chen Hai said China maintained “friendly relations” with both the army and the former ruling civilian government.

While Western countries have strongly condemned the Feb. 1 coup, China has been more cautious - emphasising the importance of stability.

China nonetheless agreed to a U.N. Security Council statement that called for the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other detainees and voiced concern over the state of emergency.

Some of the protests against the coup that have drawn hundreds of thousands of people onto the streets in recent days have taken place outside the Chinese embassy in Yangon, with protesters accusing Beijing of supporting the military junta.

The ambassador dismissed viral rumours on the internet of planes bringing in Chinese technical personnel and troops to Myanmar as “completely nonsense”, saying the planes were regular cargo flights exporting goods such as seafood.

He said China was “not informed in advance of the political change in Myanmar” and that it hoped “all things go well in Myanmar, rather than becoming unstable or even falling into chaos.”

“Many countries in transition are overcoming difficulties and challenges through their own efforts, and exploring development paths suitable for their own circumstances,” the ambassador said.

China has traditionally been viewed with suspicion in neighbouring Myanmar, where it has significant economic and strategic interests and has often backed Myanmar’s position against Western criticism.

Writing by Poppy McPherson; Editing by William Maclean