Chinese Special Envoy for Asian Affairs Sun Guoxiang visited the Kachin Independence Organization’s headquarters in Laiza last week, where he met with leaders of the Northern Alliance.
Hundreds of ethnic Kachin, including soldiers from the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), waved Chinese and KIA flags on the streets of Laiza on Jan. 11 to welcome Sun’s delegation.
“He met our KIO committee. At the meeting, he stressed that China seeks border stability,” said Colonel Naw Bu, a spokesperson for the KIO/KIA.
Sun urged the KIO to show tolerance and remain open to peace talks. He urged the group to seek possible routes to open peace talks with the Myanmar government.
“He told the KIO that instead of fighting, it is best to sit down at the peace negotiating table,” Col. Naw Bu said.
Sun’s visit coincided with the Chinese New Year, and he told the KIO that this was another reason for his friendly visit to Laiza.
KIO chairman General N’Ban Hla led the committee meeting with Sun, according to Col. Naw Bu.
The Myitsone Dam was not discussed at the meeting, Col. Naw Bu said.
Sun met individually with leaders of the Northern Alliance member groups, including the Arakan Army (AA). He discussed ways of ending the fighting in Rakhine with AA leaders.
AA spokesperson Khine Thukha confirmed to The Irrawaddy that leaders of the group met Sun in Laiza to discuss the current situation between the AA and the Myanmar military.
“We had a discussion on how to end the current fighting in Rakhine. They also asked about the attacks on Jan. 4 and how the AA could join the peace process,” he said.
The spokesperson said the AA delegation replied that the AA had been forced to defend itself, as the government had used excessive force.
The AA attacked four Border Guard Police outposts in Rakhine’s Buthidaung Township on Jan. 4, killing 13 police.
Khine Thukha told the BBC he did not see many prospects for an end to the fighting, as the AA was determined to continue fighting for the community’s ethnic rights.
The Northern Alliance comprises four ethnic armed organizations that have yet to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement and are engaged in ongoing clashes with the Myanmar military (or Tatmadaw): the KIA, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, the AA and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army.