China and the United States have opposing views as to how best the political crisis in Myanmar can be resolved. Those differences are preventing the United Nations Security Council from taking a collective stand on ending the bloodshed that has so far left more than 500 protesters dead. Beijing, mindful of the need to respect national sovereignty, seeks quiet diplomacy that brings the rival sides together for dialogue, while Washington and its Western allies are pushing for sanctions to force the junta to back down. The violence and killings could too easily turn into civil war and threaten regional peace and stability; it is in the interests of the world’s two most influential powers to reach consensus and help guide Myanmar’s people towards a solution. The military, which seized power from State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government on February 1, has so far refused to heed the calls of foreign countries to lay down guns and free arrested politicians. It claims polls last November were fraudulently won, ending a decade-long experiment with democracy that had brought billions of dollars in foreign investment. Chinese have been high among the investors, Myanmar being an important part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative. With close connections to both sides of the dispute, it has taken a prominent role in calling for de-escalation, an end to the violence and the start of constructive dialogue. State Councillor and Foreign minister Wang Yi has taken the right approach, meeting counterparts from neighbouring countries that are, along with Myanmar, members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and encouraging them to play a positive role in promoting stability. China’s UN ambassador, Zhang Jun, has called on both sides to put the interests of the country and people first and “strive to find a solution to the crisis within the constitutional and legal framework”. Sanctions, and similar coercive action, would only “aggravate tension and confrontation” and further complicate circumstances. The limited penalties already imposed by US President Joe Biden’s administration and sought by his country on a wider scale through the Security Council have failed to stem the unrest and shooting of anti-junta demonstrators. Sanctions rarely work in forcing a government to bend to the will of outsiders; Myanmar for decades weathered such penalties. Amore effective means to encourage change is diplomacy and Asean is well positioned for such a role. But China and the US also have an important part to play. By working together at the Security Council, they can help ensure the international community returns Myanmar to peaceful development and the path of democratic transition.