MYANMAR: China sent COVID-19 vaccine aid to Myanmar rebel groups on Wednesday. By doing this, China is playing both sides to fight the coronavirus and strengthen its hand in the messy politics of its southern neighbor. China has already provided nearly 13 million doses to the Myanmar generals who ousted Aung San Suu Kyi in February.
Due to this, Myanmar’s healthcare system plunged into deep chaos. The junta has appeared powerless to halt the spread of the COVID-19 virus. China has quietly shipped thousands of vaccines, medical workers, and construction materials for quarantine centers and multiple rebel groups.
Chinese Red Cross staff “come to help us sometimes … to help us prevent the COVID pandemic. But they did not come to stay here, ” said Colonel Naw Bu, spokesman for the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).
“They just came for a while and went back,” he added.
The KIA is one of Myanmar’s 20 ethnic rebel groups. Many rebel groups control swathes of remote border territory who have fought each other and the military over the drugs trade, natural resources, and autonomy.
As a third wave ripped through lowland Myanmar in July, the KIA vaccinated around10,000 people in their Laiza headquarters with the vaccines provided by China. Health workers had also crossed over from China to deliver masks and hand sanitizer.
As per the reports, the Shan State Progress Party rebel group has vaccinated 1,000 people in areas under its control with Chinese vaccines.
Meanwhile, in the border town of Muse, men work on a new quarantine center that will house up to 1,000 beds for traders keen to resume business with China. The workers are Myanmar nationals. But, the building materials were all provided by authorities in China’s Yunnan province.