China’s role needed for truce in Myanmar

Source:Global Times Published: 2016/11/24 0:03:39 Last Updated: 2016/11/24 17:38:39

Fighting has resumed in northern Myanmar in recent days. As fierce clashes broke out between Myanmar government troops and ethnic armed forces, thousands of Myanmar people have flooded across the border into China. Work and life for Chinese residents in the border area have been seriously disturbed.

One of the longest civil wars in history, the armed conflict between Myanmar government troops and ethnic armed forces has never seen a real truce. It has seriously affected the security and development of China's border areas, and in particular confines the Chinese-initiated Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar economic corridor and the "One Belt and One Road" initiative. It's high time for China to seriously consider adopting a more active approach to promote a cease-fire.

The only way out to achieve peace in northern Myanmar is for the parties concerned to reach an unconditional truce as soon as possible, seek consensus through peaceful negotiation and establish a framework for securing and maintaining long-term peace. All concerned parties bear responsibilities for the stalemate in the peace process.

The government of the National League for Democracy, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, in line with the trend of the times, has taken an inclusive approach to foster peace. The Myanmar military should actively participate in the peace process in coordination with the NLD government. Instead of squeezing the ethnic armed forces, the military should adopt a more inclusive stance to win the trust of ethnic minorities and settle peace in northern Myanmar.

Ethnic armed forces also should adjust their stances, abandoning unrealistic pursuits such as demands for military and diplomatic power. They can only win more development opportunities by engaging in the peace process to secure their deserved legitimate rights and realize sustainable development by actively integrating into mainstream society.

However, there are unrealistic illusions among some armed forces. They have tried to drag China into the mire, forcing China to pressure the Myanmar government and military. This is impractical and dangerous. It will only impair China's interests and intensify the confrontation between the ethnic armed forces and Myanmar's military and government. The ethnic armed forces in northern Myanmar should wake up to the reality that this will only lead to a dead end. China won't play into their hands.

Some ethnic armed forces in northern Myanmar are in a predicament and having difficulty continuing their fight. The Kokang armed conflicts in 2015 plunged Myanmar people into misery and suffering. Now the ethnic armed forces are up to their old tricks again. They launched attacks against ports, such as Mujie and the 105 Mile border point,  that are important to China-Myanmar connectivity and trade, thus losing public support.

Some of the forces a made trouble at the Chinese-invested Myitsone dam. Others even called for Chinese nationals of the same ethnicities in the Chinese territory to cross the border and join their fight. China must not tolerate such abominable behaviors.

The evolution of chaos in northern Myanmar not only damages China's national interest, but also destroys peaceful regional development and tarnishes China's image. It is difficult to make all stakeholders in Myanmar compromise to break the deadlock. From the past experiences of peace talks elsewhere in the world, coordination from a third party can be a way out. Currently, the Myanmese government, military and ethnic armed forces all hope China can play a bigger role.

As a neighboring country having close ties with all relevant parties, China is capable of influencing their decision-making. China should seize the moment and take on the responsibility. In recent years, China has made it clear that it will take a neutral position to actively foster peace talks. It also  provided venues for peace talks between the Myanmese government and the ethnic armed forces in Ruili, Yunnan. Chinese mediation is acceptable to all parties. Only China can effectively promote peace talks.

China can take the initiative to coordinate and promote the peace process, putting an end to the decades-long conflict. It's an important step for China to shape the order of peace and development in its periphery and effectively play the role of a major power.

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