The heavy goods vehicles were prominent in photos and videos: footage of commercial vehicles of Chinese automaker Sinotruk, which soldiers drove to large peaceful protests in Myanmar after the military coup earlier this year. Images of soldiers jumping from the backs of green trucks to beat protesters, shoot them and evacuate arrested protesters.
Sinotruk’s connection with Germany was explosive from the start. Munich-based truck maker MAN, which is part of the VW Traton commercial vehicle group, bought 25% plus a share of the Chinese company twelve years ago and paid € 560 million to have a mainstay in China. It was not about protests in Myanmar or the beating of the military, it was a promising enterprise in a mass market. And so the pressure increased after the Myanmar photos. In the meantime, upon request, MAN announced that Sinotruk had currently “ceased all activity in the Burmese market”.
Stocktaking: After the SZ reported in March the links between MAN, Sinotruk and developments in Myanmar, it was initially stated in Munich that “related business activities” were being verified. The Chinese partner had been asked “to give a comprehensive opinion on the scope of trade activities in Myanmar and to put the subject on the agenda of the meeting of the Board of Directors in early April”. Now is September and earlier this week a number of organizations including Reporters Without Borders, the Asia House Foundation and Justice For Myanmar wrote a letter to MAN CEO Andreas Tostmann.
Demand that technology not benefit the military
It is “very well documented” with photos and video recordings that members of the military used Sinotruk vehicles to quell protests across the country. Reporters Without Borders wrote to MAN in July to take concrete steps to ensure that no deal is done with the military junta, either directly or indirectly. The company must “ensure that MAN technology does not benefit the military in any way.”
In the meantime, the Munich residents have declared themselves. MAN management has asked Sinotruk to “provide even more detailed information on business activities in Myanmar,” and an “extraordinary meeting on this one topic,” according to a request from SZ.
Sinotruk then “provided additional information and once again made it clear that the company has never sold military or civilian vehicles to the Burmese military.” In early 2021, the company sold 144 heavy trucks and 103 light trucks in Myanmar.