Power in Burma remains in the sights of the United States. Visiting neighboring Thailand, Antony Blinken on Sunday promised not to release pressure on the Burmese junta. The US Secretary of State also felt that China should agree with this line.

In a meeting held off-screen to protect their families, the US diplomat heard young pro-democracy activists in Burma, whose military overthrew the civilian government in February 2021, slamming the door on a decade of Washington-backed democratic transition. . Although he prioritizes the fight against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he is committed to maintaining pressure on Burma.

In sanctions without effect

Antony Blinken, however, acknowledged that the US strategy of sanctions against the junta has so far failed to produce results. “We continue to witness the repression of the Burmese people,” he said. “We will continue to look for ways in which we, and other countries, can pressure (the military) back on the path of democracy.” “I think all ASEAN countries have to take the regime into account,” he added.

In April last year, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) reached a “five points of consensus” with the Burmese junta, which had seized power two months earlier, including calls for dialogue with the ‘opposition.

The US Secretary of State also refused to criticize the recent visit to Burma by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, with whom he spoke for 5 hours on Saturday in Bali, but called on Beijing to support international calls for democracy. “I think it also depends on China and it is in China’s interest to see Burma return to the path it was on and from which it was so violently pushed away by the coup.”

Democracy defined as “essential”

On the other hand in Thailand, the oldest US ally in Asia, Antony Blinken met with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha, who came to power in a coup in 2014, triggering American sanctions. Prayut became head of government in the 2019 elections, which ushered in a gradual return to a more open political discourse. In a joint declaration signed by Blinken and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, the United States and Thailand called democracy “essential”.

Addressing a high priority issue for the Biden administration, the statement says Washington and Bangkok will promote “open and inclusive societies” for LGBTQ people. Antony Blinken also praised Thailand for joining President Biden’s plan to promote green energy in Southeast Asia through $ 2.7 billion of private investment in the country.

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