China Offers Burma Support to End Ethnic Unrest Near Border

By Reuters 30 November 2016

BEIJING — China told Burma on Wednesday that they should work together to stabilize their shared border, in the wake of a series of attacks by ethnic armed groups on Burmese security forces and thousands of people crossing into China to escape the violence.

The attacks this month dealt a major blow to State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s top goal of reaching peace with ethnic minorities, while China is worried about the risk of violence in northern Burma spilling onto its side of the border, as it did last year, when five Chinese people were killed.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told a visiting Burmese delegation, led by peace commission chair Tin Myo Win, that Beijing was worried by the deteriorating situation and repeated a call for an end to military action and for talks to resolve disputes.

“Both sides should properly use the China-Burma high-level diplomatic and military mechanism to jointly maintain the peace and stability of the China-Burma border region,” a Foreign Ministry statement paraphrasing Wang said on Wednesday.

The sudden escalation in fighting comes as the Burmese government grapples with a conflict in northwestern Arakan State that has sent hundreds of Rohingya Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh, posing a new challenge to Nobel peace prize winner Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who swept to power last year on promises of national reconciliation.

Previous fighting along the border pushed thousands of people into China. And Wang expressed support for Burma’s internal peace process and China’s readiness to help.

“China is willing, in accordance with Burma’s wishes and on the precondition of not interfering in Burma’s internal affairs, to play a constructive role in this regard,” Wang said.

The ministry said Tin Myo Win explained the peace process and that Burma understood China’s concerns and hoped to get Chinese support for ameliorating the situation.