Kachin Ceasefire Talks Postponed Because of China, NGOs Claim

Government peace negotiators and KIO leaders hold peace talks in Ruili, China, on March 8, 2012. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON—The postponement of ceasefire talks between the Burmese government and Kachin rebels on Friday has led to complaints from Kachin civil society groups, which claim that the talks were cancelled because China had objected to the presence of Western observers.

The Chinese Embassy in Rangoon has denied that it caused the postponement of the talks.

A government peace team was scheduled to meet with the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) in the Kachin State capital Myitkyina on Friday, but the event was cancelled a few days earlier.

Hla Maung Shwe, a peace broker from the government-affiliated Myanmar Peace Center, said on Monday that the KIO had asked for a postponement.

“From our side, we are ready to hold the talks. But, they [the KIO] asked to postpone and this is why we agreed with them,” he said, adding that the negotiations would take place soon after the Burmese Water Festival, which will end on April 15.

However, a group of 13 Kachin non-governmental organizations alleged that the event was cancelled at the behest of China, which they said had threatened to withdraw support for the ceasefire talks because UN, US and UK officials were due to attend.

The groups said in a joint statement that chief government negotiator Aung Min had agreed to a request by the KIO, made on March 29, to let Chinese and Western observers attend the talks at a venue in Myitkyina.

Hla Maung Shwe, of the Myanmar Peace Center, also told The Irrawaddy last month that Western observers would attend future ceasefire talks.

Two previous rounds of talks were held on Feb. 4 and March 8 in the Chinese border town Ruili, but no formal ceasefire agreement was reached. Chinese observers were the only third-party participants at these talks.

“China disagreed with letting the UN, US and UK participate in this [April 6] meeting,” said Mar Khar, executive director of the Kachin Legal Aid Network, whose organization helps internally displaced civilians in Kachin State.

His organization and the Kachin Peace Network, the Kachin Lawyers Group and the Kachin Women’s Peace Network were among the groups that issued the joint statement.

“KIO leaders told me that they don’t want to say bad things about China, so they had to postpone. And that’s why they say that their representatives could not arrive on time,” he told The Irrawaddy by phone on Monday.

The Chinese Embassy however, denied that China had objected to presence of Western observers. In a post on its Facebook page on Sunday the embassy said it regrets the report which “lack a factual basis.”

“As the close neighbor and truly friend of Myanmar, China fully respects the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Myanmar and support Myanmar government in its efforts to maintain national unity and ethnic harmony,” the embassy said.

Mar Khar said the presence of Western observers could help expedite the ceasefire talks, as Western countries and the Burmese government are in the process of improving their mutual relations.

“It is sad to see China want to control our sovereignty even though this is the affairs of Burma, and not China,” he added.

On Sunday, Burmese President Thein Sein wrapped up a three-day visit to China during which he met with his new Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

According to Chinese state media, the leaders discussed the Kachin conflict and Xi told Thein Sein that China was willing to “continue to play a constructive role” in solving the ethnic conflict taking place on the Burma-China border. Thein Sein reportedly assured Xi that his government would advance the peace process.

The government has been fighting ethnic Kachin rebels in northern Burma since June 2011 and from December to early February this year the fighting escalated. China has been concerned that the conflict could spill over into its territory and it has strengthened its security presence along the border.


15 Responses to Kachin Ceasefire Talks Postponed Because of China, NGOs Claim

  1. Why did China object the presence of western involvement? I believe China wants to benefit from this peace talk to monopolize everything in Burma. Actually, we the people do not want to hear the name Wanbao and UMEHL. Burmese wrath will fall on Chinese as it did to the Muslims. People who exploit our poverty and try to devour our flesh alive must be punished.

  2. The greedy Chinese should take their dirty bloody fingers out of Burma and stop meddling in Burmese politics. Enough is enough.
    Why don’t they just stay in China and clean up their polluted rivers full of dead pigs and their chicken full of deadly flu viruses. China is the worst model for Burma and fro the rest of the world.
    Free the Wa from the Chinese!
    Free Burma from Chinese bullying!
    Save the Irrawaddy Dolphins!

  3. Whatever happened to non-interference with Burma’s internal affairs? They even entertained at one point the idea of sending a drone to kill Naw Kham. How imperial powers think alike is illustrated by the tendency to muscle in to or lean on weaker states. All learnt from the US.

    • Ko Moe Aung,
      China’s non-interference policy is effective only when there is no Chinese interest. Burma has plenty natural resources and China is tempted now to abandon it’s non-interference policy. USDP and her husband China will go down in history.

  4. A decade ago,I regarded Burma was poor country; at present Burma is hero. God bless Burmese.

  5. Is KIO being controlled by the Chinese Government?

  6. China’s objection to the presence of observers reminds me of the fable of a monkey arbitrating a dispute between two cats fighting over a loaf of bread. In his futile attempt to split the loaf in two equal halves, the monkey keeps taking a bite from the heavier side. In no time the bread is all gone.

    If China is to arbitrate, both the Kachins and Naypyidaw should insist on the presence of international observers.

  7. Take one look at what China did in Tibet ask yourself if you want the same treatment in Burma. Over 100 Buddhist Monks in Tibet have burned themselves sine 2009 since China.

  8. what happen china?why he dont want peace talk ? both party are under his command if western country involve in this simply he got no chance to buy cheap price for Burmese resources..china already control in myanmar since 1989.china deal with opium group to run the Burmese economy..construction and develop and media,,inport export .singapore government dealing with all burmese opium group and all military crony company and military personal for money laundry.EU and US dint say anything about that.

  9. “China disagreed with letting the UN, US and UK participate in this [April 6] meeting,” said Mar Khar, executive director of the Kachin Legal Aid Network, whose organization helps internally displaced civilians in Kachin State.

    “The Chinese Embassy however, denied that China had objected to presence of Western observers. In a post on its Facebook page on Sunday the embassy said it regrets the report which “lack a factual basis.”

    I do not know who tell the true. Anyway, China has no right to refuse the participation of other observers such as UN, US and UK. Panlong agreement was well understood by UK. It will support more on kachin to get their right for recognition of Panglong agreement by bama military thugs.

  10. There is absolutely no need for any foreign entity to be present at the negotiating table between the Kachins and the Myanmar Government. The Kachins must prove to their own people that Kachins are capable of negotiating for their own people without the help of any foreign element, especially the English, the Americans and the UN under BK Moon. The Myanmars under Thein Sein’s government must do the same.

    The Chinese will promote their own national interest and their surrogates along the border. The English and the Americans will do exactly the same, give false hopes to the Kachins but when push comes to shove, they will be the first to split. The Kachins and the Myanmars must work this out between themselves not with any foreign element involved.

    This is the time to remember what Bottomley and Hubert Rance to “frontier area leaders” at the conclusion of Panlong “After transfer of sovereignty to Burma by the British Parliament, do not, repeat do not expect any help from Britain, that will not happen”. This ia the appropriate time for the Kachins and the Myamnars not to look to others to solve the internal affairs of Myanmar.

    Naphetchun MaungSein

    California USA

  11. China is the biggest victims by the conflicts between the Myanmar force and the KIA/KIO.  During the severe conflict period in late last year, at least three bombs exploded on the Chinese territory fired from the other side of the border, which made great losses to the Chinese people who live close to the border.  In accordance with the international law,it was some kind of “invasion”.  Everyone could easily think what the big country like US would do if they are targeted by such kind of things. Blaming China??? it is the most idiot idea………

    • Hello Chinese Aung Naing you need to change your smoke as you are hallucinating when you use words like invasion and international law because you do not know what you are talking about…little knowledge is dangerous and too much can make you look like a perfect idiot; lol.

  12. Kachin civil society groups, which claim that the talks were cancelled because China had objected to the presence of Western observers, as they would get wind of China’s true intentions which is deceit and manipulation…by the way- why China? It is not China’s business.

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