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The world’s democracies would risk pushing Myanmar into the arms of China if their response to the coup closes channels for communication with the Southeast Asian country’s powerful generals, Japan’s deputy defense minister said on Tuesday.

“If we do not approach this well, Myanmar could grow further away from politically free democratic nations and join the league of China,” deputy defense minister Yasuhide Nakayama said in an interview, adding Japan should discuss a common strategy with its allies.

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