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The US is imposing commerce sanctions on Myanmar and calling on China to assist finish the coup if violence escalates

Police are running towards protesters to disperse a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon on March 3, 2021.

STR | AFP | Getty Images

The United States imposed trade sanctions on the military regime in Myanmar Thursday, a day after security forces killed dozens of people on the deadliest day of violence since a coup last month ousted the country’s civilian leaders and sparked nationwide protests.

The Ministry of Commerce is imposing export controls on the Myanmar Ministry of Defense and Home Affairs and two companies closely related to the military – Myanmar Economic Corporation and Myanmar Economic Holding Limited. Myanmar is also now subject to trade restrictions on certain sensitive items intended for military use.

“The trade is examining possible additional measures that are justified by the measures taken by the military,” warned the department in a press release on Thursday afternoon. “The US government will continue to hold the perpetrators of the coup responsible for their actions.”

According to the United Nations, security forces in Myanmar killed at least 38 protesters on Wednesday. The violence is part of a military campaign to crack down nationwide demonstrations calling for the release of civilian leaders who were ousted from power and imprisoned on February 1.

Myanmar nationals hold a candlelight vigil outside the United Nations to commemorate anti-coup protesters killed in Myanmar, Bangkok, Thailand on March 4, 2021.

Lauren DeCicca | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The Myanmar authorities have also approached members of the press reporting on the protests. Associate press journalist Thein Zaw and five other media representatives were arrested and charged with violating a public order law earlier this week.

State Department spokesman Ned Price urged the regime to exercise “maximum restraint” and warned the military that the US would take further action to hold it accountable for the detention of journalists and violence against demonstrators.

“This recent escalation of violence shows that the juntas utterly disregard their own people,” Price said at a press conference Thursday.

“As I said, we will continue to work with the international community to take meaningful action against those responsible. The United States will take additional measures,” Price said before Commerce announced the new trade sanctions.

Myanmar nationals hold a candlelight vigil outside the United Nations to commemorate anti-coup protesters killed in Myanmar, Bangkok, Thailand on March 4, 2021.

Lauren DeCicca | Getty Images News | Getty Images

President Joe Biden issued executive orders last month imposing sanctions on the military leaders who led the coup. According to a Reuters report, the New York Federal Reserve blocked an attempt by the country’s military to move $ 1 billion in funds days after it came to power.

The Foreign Ministry on Thursday again urged China to use its influence in Myanmar to help restore civilian rule to the country. US and Chinese officials have spoken several times about the situation in Myanmar since the February 1 coup, Price said.

“We have asked the Chinese to play a constructive role in using their influence on the Burmese military to end this coup,” Price said.

China, which has close ties with Myanmar, last month prevented the United Nations Security Council from issuing a statement condemning the coup.

Burmese activists have said they are determined to continue participating in protests in support of democracy despite the violent crackdown.

“We know that we can always be shot with sharp bullets, but there is no point in staying alive under the junta. That’s why we choose this dangerous route to escape,” activist Maung Saungkha told Reuters.

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