China Asks for a Halt to Fighting in Burma During Chinese New Year

By Lawi Weng 20 January 2017

RANGOON — In a meeting in Kunming on Thursday, China’s Special Envoy for Asian Affairs reportedly asked the ethnic armed groups comprising the Northern Alliance to deescalate fighting with the Burma Army in time for the Chinese New Year, according to local sources.

Chinese envoy Sun Guoxiangmet with leaders from the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the Arakan Army(AA) and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA).

“He told us to reduce fighting near the Chinese border or to stop fighting if it is possible. And especially, not to have fighting during the Chinese New Year,” said the TNLA’s Col Tar Phone Kyaw, who attended the meeting.

Sun Guoxiang reportedly suggested that the Northern Alliance begin peace talks with Burma Army and government leaders.

The Northern Alliance armed groups said they would like to have peace talks soon, but need some time to negotiate regarding the presence of the United Wa State Army (UWSA), whom they would also like in attendance at the talks. The government has reportedly disagreed on this point.

“We wanted to bring UWSA along with us to participate in the peace process. It should be all-inclusive participation. The country will not have peace if only the UWSA remains [excluded],” said Col Tar Phone Kyaw.

At the meeting, the Northern Alliance representatives also told China about escalated fighting near the Chinese border after the Burma Army reportedly launched an offensive in ethnic Kachin and Ta’ang (Palaung) areas, which they said included the use of artillery shot in civilian areas.

“We told him at the meeting that it would be hard to have peace as the Burmese army has been carrying out ongoing attacks against our ethnic armed forces,” the TNLA colonel said.

Sun Guoxiang also met Burma Army chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing earlier this month. In the meeting, it was reported that the senior general maintained that Burma had transitioned to a democratic system in which rights are provided for ethnic minorities. Demanding rights through armed struggle, he said, would not succeed.