Myanmar coup: Joe Biden threatens to resume sanctions

The President of the United States, Joe Biden, has threatened to resume sanctions on Myanmar after the country experienced a military coup which resulted in the suspension of democracy. He also called for international solidarity in confronting the country's generals. 

Standing Up For Democracy

In a written statement addressing the first foreign policy crisis of his tenure, Biden said: "The United States removed sanctions on Burma over the past decade based on progress toward democracy. The reversal of that progress will necessitate an immediate review of our sanction laws and authorities, followed by appropriate action".

Sanctions placed on Myanmar by the United States were lifted five years ago after the country held elections, established a civilian government, and took other steps toward restoring democracy, although targeted sanctions remained on certain military officers.

"The United States will stand up for democracy wherever it is under attack,” Biden’s statement said, adding: “The international community should come together in one voice to press the Burmese military to immediately relinquish the power they have seized, release the activists and officials they have detained, lift all telecommunications restrictions, and refrain from violence against civilians.

Differing Positions

While the US is potentially going to adopt a hard-line stance as regards the crisis in Myanmar, China is taking a markedly different approach. 

China, which has substantial oil and gas interests in Myanmar, merely noted the coup and declined to divulge whether she had cautioned the Myanmar military against such a move when the Chinese foreign minister met its military leadership last month after the heavy defeat of its proxy party at the polls.

"We have noted what has happened in Myanmar and are in the process of further understanding the situation,” the foreign ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, told a daily news briefing in Beijing.

"China is a friendly neighbor of Myanmar’s. We hope that all sides in Myanmar can appropriately handle their differences under the constitution and legal framework and safeguard political and social stability.”