China Urges Immediate Ceasefire in Northern Shan State; Speculating on China’s Policy

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – November 02

MoeMaKa, November 03, 2023

China Urges Immediate Ceasefire in Northern Shan State; Speculating on China’s Policy

In response to the week-long armed conflict in northern Shan State, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Wang Wenbin issued a second statement urging all relevant parties to halt hostilities and establish an immediate ceasefire. This call follows a previous plea for a ceasefire made a few days before the commencement of the attacks.

Public sentiment in Myanmar leans negatively towards China’s involvement in Myanmar’s affairs, with opinions suggesting interference in internal matters and suspicion that the call for a ceasefire aligns with the interests of armed groups opposing the military council.

Historically, relations between Myanmar and China have been complex. During the Fasapala (AFPFL) government, Myanmar recognized the Republic of China early on, facing challenges from the Kuomintang invasion in Shan State. However, during the Masala (BSP Party) era, strained relations emerged as China supported the Communist Party of Burma. Anti-China sentiment persisted in Myanmar through the SLORC and SPDC military regimes.

Despite protests against Chinese investment projects during U Thein Sein’s government and NLD’s government, it’s unclear whether China supported or opposed the coup. While the Chinese Communist Party maintained relations with the NLD, it did not recognize parallel governments like the NUG. The relationship between China and Myanmar appears to be guided more by practical interests than ideological alignment.

The military council, after the coup, seemed to favor Russia over China, signaling discontent with the latter. To predict China’s stance on the battles in North Shan, one must consider historical events, recent policies, and practical actions. China likely views ethnic armed groups as a buffer zone with Myanmar and may assess their presence as either beneficial for stability or a source of long-term border instability.

China, as a part of the One Belt and One Road strategy, is invested in the stability of the region. It is reasonable to assume that China does not want the civil war to escalate in Myanmar. However, its engagement may depend on whether the government in power aligns with its interests. In calculating its approach to Myanmar, China will consider global strategy, U.S.-China relations, and its response to international activities.

It’s essential to acknowledge that China, aiming to avoid a force closely aligned with the United States gaining power in Myanmar, might prioritize dealing with a government that is perceived as a reliable ally.