Myanmar Spring Chronicle – January 11, 2024 by MoeMaKa Media:
China-Mediated Talks Shape Ongoing Conflict Dynamics
In the aftermath of the third meeting mediated by China between the Military Council and the 3 Northern Brotherhood Alliances, the situation in northern Shan remains fraught with conflict. Despite these diplomatic engagements, attacks have not ceased and, in fact, have continued to escalate, extending the scope of the confrontation.
The initial meeting in early December marked the commencement of talks facilitated by China’s intervention. Subsequent discussions in the third week of December and the most recent meeting in China’s Yunnan Province on January 10 and 11 underscore the complex nature of negotiations amid a backdrop of intensifying military actions.
Throughout these talks, the Military Council faced a deteriorating military situation, losing control over numerous towns in northern Shan. Significant setbacks included the surrender and retreat of the DaKaSa and SaKaKha divisions from Laukkaing. This shift in military dynamics positioned the Military Council at a disadvantage during negotiations.
While specific details of the talks were not disclosed, emerging reports suggest that the Military Council approached the discussions from a position of superiority. Their demands seemingly focused on a temporary truce to extricate themselves from the current challenging scenario. Despite substantial military losses, the Military Council adopted a strategic posture based on leveraging the political advantages afforded by the 2008 Constitution.
Crucially, the negotiations extend beyond the interests of the Military Council and the 3 brotherhood ethnic armed groups to encompass the concerns of China. The stability of the region holds implications for China’s investments and strategic projects, such as the Kyaukphyu-Kunming fuel pipeline and its participation in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). China’s foreign policy regarding Myanmar must navigate a delicate balance between safeguarding its geopolitical interests, preventing the spread of armed conflict, and maintaining stability in the border regions.
Of immediate concern for China is the suppression of online criminal gangs, notably the notorious “tigers,” operating from Myanmar. Addressing this issue is a key priority, reflecting the multifaceted challenges that China faces in its dealings with Myanmar. The extent to which China is willing to support the existing military regime or engage with regional ethnic armed groups to secure influence remains uncertain. China’s global stature as a major power, coupled with its strategic and economic interests in Myanmar, necessitates a nuanced approach that mitigates armed conflicts in its immediate vicinity.