ASEAN: diplomatic stalemate over Myanmar crisis

Yesterday the meeting of foreign ministers of the regional organisation did not produce results. China referred to General Min Aung Hlaing as “Myanmar’s leader”. Aung San Suu Kyi remains in custody and is asking for food and medicines.


Yangon (AsiaNews) – A meeting between the 10 foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Countries (ASEAN) and their Chinese counterpart Wang Yi was held yesterday in the Chinese city of Chongqing. The crisis in Myanmar was among the topics discussed.

Myanmar Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin attended the meeting, representing the military junta that took power on 1 February after arresting pro-democracy leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi who is set to go on trial next Monday (14 June), her lawyer said yesterday.

During the meeting, ASEAN foreign ministers stressed the need to implement the five-point plan drafter at the end of April to reduce violence in Myanmar.

Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said ASEAN was “disappointed” with the “very slow progress” in implementing the plan.

“Unfortunately, we know that there are still civilians who have been hurt or killed. There has been no release of political detainees, there has been no real sign of meaningful political dialogue and negotiation,” Channel News Asia quoted Balakrishnan as saying.

The minister went on to say that ASEAN had no intention of interfering in Myanmar's internal affairs because “in the end, only the people themselves withing Myanmar can determine its future.”

After the meeting, Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said she raised the crisis during talks with Wang Yi, saying China’s support to ASEAN “will be highly appreciated”.

China had no immediate comment, but in a Facebook post the Chinese Embassy in Myanmar said that Myanmar’s new government is “willing to work together with ASEAN to safeguard the domestic stability of Myanmar” and implement the five-point plan.

Opponents to the military junta have criticised the Chinese government for calling General Min Aung Hlaing “Myanmar’s leader.” Its government is not officially recognised by ASEAN or any single country.

Meanwhile, Aung San Suu Kyi was back in court yesterday. During the hearing, the former state counsellor was able to speak for a second time with her legal team, after a first meeting on 24 May.

According to local newspaper The Irrawaddy, Suu Kyi also asked her lawyers to provide food and medicines for herself and eight other detainees.

The court agreed to hear five out of six charges against Suu Kyi within 180 days of her arrest.

According to one of the lawyers of the leader of the National League for Democracy, the court will hear the prosecution's evidence until 28 June, followed by the defence. The court is likely to issue a ruling by mid-August.