The military takeover in Myanmar and detention of Aung San Suu Kyi was “a major cabinet reshuffle” according to Chinese state media, who rolled out the euphemisms to avoid calling a coup a coup.
As democratic leaders around the world slammed the Burmese military and President Joe Biden said the US was “taking note” of who was standing up for Myanmar’s people, China’s communist leadership took a softly-softly approach.
Beijing called for all parties in Myanmar to “resolve their differences”, and the official Xinhua news agency on Monday described the military replacing elected ministers after the coup as a “major cabinet reshuffle”.
The nationalist Global Times meanwhile quoted unnamed experts as saying the generals’ power-grab could be seen as “an adjustment to the country’s dysfunctional power structure”.
But the paper — known for its fiery commentaries against China’s critics — also used the occasion to take a pop at former US president Donald Trump, whose combative approach to Beijing had plunged US-China ties to their lowest in decades.
“Some experts mentioned that… Trump, who refused to admit his election defeat and reportedly incited the Capitol riots, might be the Myanmar military’s inspiration,” it wrote.
Beijing has long rebuffed what it sees as interference in its “internal affairs” — such as criticism over its human rights record — and has taken a similarly neutral stance on most foreign affairs.
Myanmar is also a vital piece of Beijing’s huge Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.
President Xi Jinping visited the country last January, and promised to support the Myanmar government on a development path “suited to its own national conditions”.
Biden has called for a quick restoration of democracy in Myanmar, while United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the European Union and Australia were among others to condemn the coup.
The Myanmar military has justified its seizure of power by alleging widespread fraud in elections held three months ago that the NLD won in a landslide. It has imposed a state of emergency for a year, and claimed it would then hold fresh elections.