Northern Alliance Seeks Continued Support From China in Peace Process Negotiations

By Nyein Nyein 29 March 2018

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — The northeastern-based ethnic alliance the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC) seeks further support from China in Myanmar’s peace process, according to a statement it released on Wednesday.

The FPNCC stated that China’s positive involvement in Myanmar’s peace process has become more important and cannot be averted.

The alliance will join the upcoming third session of the 21st Panglong peace conference in Naypyitaw – tentatively slated for May – only when it is formally invited, the FPNCC said. It is unclear whether non-signatories to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) will be invited to participate in the Union peace conference and in what capacity.

“If the FPNCC receives a formal invitation, all member groups will attend together,” read the statement, released after a three-day FPNCC standing committee meeting in Panghsang, the capital of the Wa self-administrated region, held from March 26 to 28.

This is the same stance it has held since the alliance’s first standing committee meeting in August.

The bloc members, led by the United Wa State Army (UWSA), joined the second session of the peace conference in May last year, after China intervened.

In the statement, the alliance asked for China’s help to ensure its security, citing safety concerns for ethnic armed groups that are in ongoing clashes with the Myanmar Army,

“If we cannot be assured security, how can we move forward with discussions,” Nyi Rang, a liaison officer for the United Wa State Party, told The Irrawaddy via message. He added that the groups would not attend if invited individually, as they stood firmly in their stance to attend as a bloc.

The bloc called for the halt of the Myanmar military’s offensives against its allies, including the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Kachin State; the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Kokang’s Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) in Shan State, and the Arakan Army (AA). It welcomed the newly-elected President U Win Myint and said it “hoped that peace in Myanmar would be promptly implemented under the leadership of the new president.”

Seeking official Chinese intervention in negotiations, the FPNCC showed interest in further collaboration for peace.

Observers of that the peace process expect that it could proceed smoothly with continuous Chinese mediation between the Myanmar government and ethnic armed groups, as well an easing on restrictions that exclude the TNLA, AA and MNDAA.

China’s efforts to bring all the groups based along its borders into the peace process could boost its international image, said Maung Maung Soe, a political and ethnic affairs analyst.

Observers said the FPNCC’s stance seemed more flexible this time around as it omitted mention of the NCA or an alternative to the NCA.

U Maung Maung Soe said this could be attributed to development in including the TNLA, AA, and MNDAA (who are all NCA non-signatories) in the process.

However, government peace negotiators led by State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi did not reveal any information in regards to ongoing negotiations with the bloc.

As China moves forward with its One Belt One Road initiative, Myanmar’s neighbor “seeks stability on its border, thus encourages the northern alliance to take part in the peace process, and also pressures both the Tatmadaw and the alliance to reduce military tensions,” U Maung Maung Soe added.

Chit Min Tun contributed to this report.