Blinken Calls on China, ASEAN Countries to Hold Burma Accountable

By Reuters
July 11, 2022 Updated: July 11, 2022

BANGKOK—U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday urged China and members of the Southeast Asian bloc ASEAN to put pressure on the rulers of Burma (also known as Myanmar)
to return to democracy and to hold it accountable to a peace deal agreed with the group.

“It is incumbent on China and in China’s interest to see Burma move back to the path it was on,” Blinken said, using the country’s former name.

Speaking at a news conference in Bangkok during a tour of Asia, Blinken called on members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to hold Burma’s government accountable to “five-point consensus” peace agreement.

“Regional support for the regime’s adherence to the five point consensus developed by ASEAN is critical—that has not happened,” Blinken said.

“The ASEAN countries need to hold the regime accountable for that … continue to demand the cessation of violence and release of prisoners,” he added.

ASEAN’s nine members and Burmese junta chief Min Aung Hlaing in April last year signed an agreement that included immediate cessation of violence and dialogue among all parties.

“There has been no positive movement on that.”

Burma’s military has increased pressure against ethnic minority armies since a coup last year and is encountering resistance on multiple fronts, including militia groups allied with the ousted government.

Last week, Thailand scrambled fighters after a Burma jet breached its airspace in the country’s northwest.

Burma shares a 1,500-mile border with Thailand, its longest with any neighbor.

The United States and Thailand on Sunday signed agreements to deepen the countries’ already strong ties as Washington steps up its efforts to counter the Chinese regime’s expanding influence in Asia.

Thailand's Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai (R), and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken
Thailand’s Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai (R) and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken display flowers on their jackets following remarks to the press after a Memorandum of Understanding signing ceremony at the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok, Thailand, on July 10, 2022. (Stefani Reynolds/Reuters)

Blinken’s visit comes a day after he met Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi in Indonesia on the sidelines of the Group of Twenty (G-20) foreign minister’s meeting.

Wang has been engaged in intense diplomacy across Asia in recent weeks and met Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on July 5.

Blinken last year postponed a trip to Thailand, the oldest U.S. ally in Asia, after halting a regional tour when a COVID-19 case was found in the press corps accompanying him.

After meeting Blinken, Prayuth said the relationship between the two countries “continue to increase in momentum.”