As the Myanmar military intensified a crackdown on protesters after seizing power in a coup in February, social media posts began sharing images of soldiers, pointing to the insignia on their uniforms to claim the pictures showed Chinese troops drafted in to help quash opposition to the junta. The claim is false: the soldiers in the pictures actually have Burmese military insignia on their uniforms. There have been no credible news reports of soldiers from China being deployed in post-coup Myanmar.
"Chinese army is now helping Myanmar Coup Military in Myanmar," reads a tweet posted on February 26, 2021. "We don't want chinese military here".
A screenshot, taken on March 3, 2021, of the misleading post.
The tweet features photos of men in military uniform with red badges on their sleeves, which have been circled.
A fourth picture shows a similar-looking red badge on a web page purporting to show Chinese army badges.
A screenshot, taken on March 5, 2021, of the fourth photo in the misleading post.
Myanmar's military has sought to quash a mass uprising that was triggered after it seized power on February 1, 2021, AFP has reported here.
At least 38 people died on March 3, according to the United Nations, in the deadliest day of the junta's crackdown against demonstrators.
However, the claim is false.
A digital investigation by AFP found that the soldiers' badges in the photos are not Chinese, but in fact represent Myanmar's military, the Tatmadaw Armoured Operation Command, according to Enacademic encyclopedia.
A screenshot, taken on March 4, 2021, of the Myanmar army structure.
The shape of the Tatmadaw Armoured Operation Command badge can be seen in the photo magnified below by AFP.
The same badge can be found here in an article about a meeting of senior Burmese military officials on May 31, 2018.
A screenshot, taken on March 5, 2021, of the army chief's website.
Scholars in Myanmar also pointed out that the photos showed Burmese military badges rather than Chinese ones.
Fact check: Chinese soldiers have NOT been spotted in Yangon. These badges are from the Tatmadaw's Armoured Operation Command, which deploys tanks and armored personnel carriers. Please do not spread unverified rumors pic.twitter.com/VE7oL0RMLz— Andrew Nachemson (@ANachemson) February 16, 2021
South Sudanese badge
Furthermore, a keyword search on Google found the red and yellow badge purporting to represent the Chinese army is in fact a South Sudanese military badge.
A screenshot, taken on March 4, 2021, from the misleading post
A screenshot, taken on March 5, 2021, of AFP photo.
The badge can also be found on this encyclopedia of military insignia.
Below is a screenshot comparison of the Burmese military badge (L) and South Sudanese military badge (R):
A screenshot comparison of the Burmese military badge and South Sudanese military badge.
Chinese military insignia are actually green with a red five-pointed star and a golden wheat symbol, according to the official website of the Chinese People's Liberation Army.
There have been no credible reports of Chinese military drafted to help the junta in Myanmar after the February coup.
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