Trade between the once-thriving border towns of Muse and Ruili is restarting after nearly three years, but remains restricted to a trickle of trucks, with Myanmar wary of the COVID-19 surge in China.
The regime's sudden decision has hobbled Myanmar citizens seeking better lives overseas and risks depriving migrant workers of legal protections, with rights groups suspecting a ploy to target dissidents.
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Myanmar's Buddhist monkhood led an earlier struggle against military rule but is split on the February 1 coup that ended the country's nascent democracy, with some prominent religious leaders defending the new junta.
Since the February 1 coup pushed Myanmar’s economy off the edge, residents living in informal housing on the urban fringe – already battered by the COVID-19 pandemic – are being pushed to the brink of starvation.
Instability and anti-Chinese sentiment are endangering Beijing’s plans in the country, but rivalry with the West and its own domestic problems may prevent it from engaging the democracy movement, which remains wary of China.
Volunteer networks and cross-border ethnic and family ties have ensured a refuge for thousands who’ve fled overland to India’s Mizoram state, but some long to return to Myanmar to rejoin the anti-coup struggle.
With an entire academic year already lost to the pandemic, the junta says schools will reopen on June 1, but teachers, students and their parents are refusing to attend or enroll in schools administered by generals and policed by soldiers.