Under the active mediation of the Chinese government, a Myanmar government delegation and the Kachin Independence Organization held peace talks in Yunnan China on Feb 4.In June 2011, Myanmar government military and local Kachin armed forces fell into a new round of armed conflict after a 17-year long ceasefire. At the beginning of this year, the government military dispatched fighter jets to bomb the areas controlled by Kachin armed force in northern Myanmar. The conflict at one point impacted the border area in Yunnan, causing a large number of Myanmar border residents to enter China and threatening the peace and stability of the Chinese border. During the conflict, there had been frequent reports about peace talks between the two sides, but a complete ceasefire was never achieved.  The Kachin Independence Army, seeking greater autonomy, is the only one among the main ethnic armed forces that has yet to reach a ceasefire agreement with the Thein Sein government.

Referring to the continuing instability of northern Myanmar and the prospect of the peace talks, Mr. Shen Shishun, a South Asia expert and the director of the ASEAN Studies Institute at HaiKou Economic Institute commented:” Myanmar is a multi-ethnicity country with more than 100 ethnic groups. The ethnic problems have always been prominent. The main purpose of the fighting remains the fact that the Myanmar government might have denied self-determination by the ethnic groups, meaning that it aims to homogenize or Burmanize some ethnic groups. This is a main reason for the severe ethnic conflicts. The civil war has lasted for more than 5 decades since the 1960’s till now and that’s why the government military and ethnic groups have been fighting while talking. Since 2011, the government has negotiated ceasefire agreements with multiple groups. But recently there have been conflicts again. I don’t think their conflicts could be resolved any time soon. The most fundamental issue is to achieve ethnic reconciliation.”

As for why the negotiation was hosted in China, Shen Shishun analyzed: The armed conflict in northern Myanmar is on the Sino-Myanmar border and has posed serious threats to the security of the region. Some artillery shells even landed in China. And the conflict created a large number of homeless refugees. This certainly means chaos and disturbances for our border. The Chinese government has been mediating on this. Related parties in Myanmar also felt that it would be safer to host the negotiation in a third party location. Therefore, they feel some cities inside China would be ideal locations for negotiation. On the other hand, this issue does concern China as it creates security threats for China. Hence China is willing to provide a place for negotiation for the two parties. This is a positive variable for the talk.”

Link: http://gb.cri.cn/27824/2013/02/05/6611s4013401.htm