Policy & Regulation

02 Feb 2021

Military Seizes Power in Resource-Rich Burma

02 Feb 2021  by Kevin Foster   
The elected leaders of Myanmar (Burma) have been arrested by the military, sending the resource-rich southeast Asian nation into a fresh political crisis.

Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and top officials from her National League for Democracy (NLD) party were taken into custody earlier today. The head of the armed forces, Min Aung Hlaing, has taken power and a state of emergency has been declared for one year, military TV said.

The arrests came after Myanmar's military stepped up allegations of electoral fraud in recent days. The NLD won over 80pc of seats in a general election in November, with the main army-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) taking just 7pc. Parliament was due to sit today for the first time since the elections.

Myanmar produces natural gas from offshore fields in the Bay of Bengal, much of which is sent by pipelines to Thailand and China. The Burma Road pipelines pumped 4.2bn m³ (11.5mn m³/d) of gas from the port of Kyaukpyu on Myanmar's Indian Ocean coast to China last year, Chinese customs data show.

The pipelines also carried 200,000 b/d of crude to state-run PetroChina's Anning refinery in 2020, cutting journey times to China from the Mideast Gulf by over a week and allowing tankers to avoid the congested and strategically vulnerable strait of Malacca.

Myanmar is also a major producer of rare earths and other metals.

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