Asia Pacific

China Says Peace Talks Held Over North Myanmar Conflict, ‘Positive Results’

China said Monday peace talks had been held over the conflict in northern Myanmar and yielded “positive results” after weeks of fighting between the country’s junta and ethnic minority armed groups.

Clashes have raged across Myanmar’s northern Shan state after the Arakan Army (AA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) launched an offensive in late October.

The groups have seized military positions and border hubs vital for trade with China in what analysts say is the biggest military challenge to the junta since it seized power in 2021.

“China is happy to see the parties to the conflict in northern Myanmar hold peace talks and achieve positive results,” foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said.

Beijing would “continue to provide support and facilitation to this end.”

“We believe that the easing of the situation in northern Myanmar serves the interests of all parties in Myanmar and is conducive to maintaining tranquillity and stability along the China-Myanmar border,” Mao said.

A Myanmar junta spokesman said the military had held talks with the AA, MNDAA, and TNLA aimed at finding a “political” solution to the conflict.

The talks had been held “with the help of China,” spokesman Zaw Min Tun said, without saying when or where they were held.

“Based on the development of this meeting, there will be another meeting at the end of this month,” he said.

Close Ties

Beijing is a major arms supplier and ally of the junta but ties have been strained in recent months over the junta’s failure to crack down on online scam compounds in Myanmar that Beijing says target Chinese citizens.

Analysts say China maintains ties with ethnic armed groups in northern Myanmar, some of whom share close kinship and cultural ties with China and use Chinese currency and phone networks in the territory they control.

Protesters gathered at a rare demonstration in Yangon last month to accuse China of backing the ethnic minority alliance, in what analysts say was a move sanctioned by junta authorities.

Beijing has expressed “strong dissatisfaction” over the clashes in Shan state, home to oil and gas pipelines that supply China and a planned billion-dollar railway link.

The junta’s foreign minister met the deputy secretary of the Yunnan Provincial Party Committee last week in China’s Kunming, where they discussed “peace and stability along the border areas,” according to the junta-backed Global New Light of Myanmar.

The offensive by the alliance of ethnic minority armed groups has galvanized other opponents of the junta.

Clashes have spread to the east and the west of Myanmar and forced more than half a million people to flee their homes, according to the United Nations.

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