Martial law was declared in parts of Yangon after several Chinese-owned garment factories were torched on March 14 over the issue of Beijing’s support to the military for the coup. According to the embassy in Yangon, several Chinese-backed factories were smashed up and set ablaze, while many Chinese nationals were injured in attacks by protesters.
At least 38 people were reportedly killed on March 14 as security forces opened fire on anti-coup protesters.
The Chinese embassy condemned the attacks as ‘extremely vile’ and urged Myanmar authorities to cease the violence, punish perpetrators and protect Chinese businesses and people in the country, according to global newswires.
“We urge the Myanmar people to express their demands in a lawful manner, and avoid being incited and exploited into damaging friendly cooperation between China and Myanmar,” the Chinese embassy said, adding that Chinese investment in the textile and garment sector has created nearly 400,000 jobs in the country.
Some in Myanmar have also questioned China’s relationship with the junta and its silence over human rights abuses. Social media users have shared lists of companies said to be Chinese-owned calling for boycotts.
Mon Sandar Myint, chairperson of the Federation of General Workers Myanmar, said many of the garment workers her group represents have been threatened by Chinese employers over their participation in protests and civil disobedience.
She further said that the Chinese Embassy’s statement belied Beijing’s antagonism towards the demonstrators, and did not show any sympathy for the Myanmar nationals who were killed.
Around 40 per cent of the country’s clothing factories have Chinese owners, according to the country’s national garment association.