The last Sunday of the winter was truly bloody in Myanmar. Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Yangon, Mandalay, Tavoy, Myeye, Bago and Pakhouku demanding the departure of the military junta, the release and reinstatement of the civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi and Win Myint, and recognition of the results of the November general elections. During the dispersal of mass protests, the Myanmar security forces did not stand on ceremony, opening fire with live ammunition. 18 people were killed and dozens were injured. Exactly a month ago, a military coup took place in the country, and a junta called the State Administrative Council (SAC) seized full power. Popular protests began literally from the first hours of the coup, and 26 people have already been killed, and thousands have been jailed.
The protesters on the streets clearly identify SAC’s collaborators, giving it every possible support to stifle popular protest. The main stream of criticism is directed against China, because they do not even want to admit the fact of the coup, and call the seizure of power by the military – “a major reshuffle in the cabinet.” Russia’s support for the junta is not ignored, because at the UN Security Council level, Moscow helped Beijing block a resolution condemning the coup. People say that the visits of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on January 12 and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on January 25, during which they met with the commander-in-chief of the Myanmar National Self-Defense Army, General Min Aung Hlaing, are direct evidence of the identification of the real architects of the anti-democratic coup.
Moreover, without Chinese and Russian support, the Myanmar military would not have been able to block the Internet so quickly, build a national firewall, and conduct intelligence operations on the network. China’s goals are to establish strict control over Myanmar, even to the point of completely depriving it of sovereignty. Although back in January 2020, when visiting Naypyidaw, Chinese President Xi Jinping promised the arrested Aung San Suu Kyi about opening a new chapter of the long-standing Sino-Myanmar friendship. But less than a year later, in order to protect their geostrategic project – the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC), the Chinese carried out a coup. As for the Russians, they are interested in contracts for the sale of weapons, because in the Kremlin they sleep and see how the patchwork Myanmar will burn, and how things will go uphill for Russian arms dealers and mercenaries. However, a mistake has crept into the Chinese calculation: the mass popular movement against the dictatorship in Myanmar has acquired such a significant scale that even the bullets of the security forces can not stop the popular anger.
Even more frightening to Beijing, as well as to other autocrats around the world, is the launch of the Tea and Milk Alliance, an online democracy movement inspired by the Myanmar protests. The name comes from a popular anti-Chinese story that the people of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand and Myanmar, in a word, Southeast Asia prefer to drink tea with milk, while in China tea without milk is popular. This cultural difference has been reflected in many memes, and has become a symbol of solidarity and unification for Asian protest Internet communities.
Amid the collapse of the tourism industry, anti-Chinese sentiment and the situation in neighboring Myanmar are underpinning the protests in Thailand, which have once again revived and spilled into the streets. It is expected that the “tea trend” may cover other countries in the region, and the solidarity of the people of India, Japan, Korea, and Australia with it will make it pan-Asian. Asian spring is coming… And soon it will be the turn of Belarus and Russia, because they also disown their European identity. Now the enemies of democracy face the Chekhov question head on: “Whether to go to drink tea, or hang yourself?»