A rebel alliance in northern Myanmar has reportedly reached a ceasefire agreement with the ruling military during China-mediated talks, following months of coordinated offensives that posed a serious challenge to the junta’s authority. This comes in the aftermath of the military’s overthrow of the elected government in 2021 and subsequent clashes with ethnic minority armies seeking to reclaim control of their regions.
The joint offensive, supported by a parallel pro-democracy, civilian-led government, had created a formidable battlefield challenge for the junta since the coup, prompting China to intervene due to concerns about potential disruptions to border trade and a refugee influx along the northern border.
A leader from one of the rebel groups, TNLA, disclosed on Friday that the “Three Brotherhood Alliance” and the military had agreed to a ceasefire, with an understanding not to advance further. The specifics of the agreement involve refraining from offensive attacks on enemy camps or towns from the alliance side, and the military committing not to engage in attacks through airstrikes, bombardment, or heavy weapons.
China’s foreign ministry confirmed the peace talks held in Kunming on Jan 10-11, where both sides agreed to an immediate ceasefire and cessation of hostilities. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning stated that both parties pledged not to harm residents at the Chinese border, emphasizing China’s hope for the earnest implementation of the ceasefire agreement and the exercise of maximum restraint by all concerned parties in Myanmar.
Last month, Beijing had already announced that the parties had agreed on a temporary ceasefire and committed to maintaining dialogue. However, recent reports indicate that despite these agreements, fighting persisted in northern Shan State and other regions, with rebels seizing control of Laukkai, a crucial commercial town on the Chinese border.
The conflict has resulted in significant displacement, with over 300,000 people forced to flee due to recent violence and more than 2 million displaced since the coup, as reported by the United Nations. Moreover, the unrest has witnessed instances of Myanmar police and military personnel surrendering to rebel groups or seeking refuge across borders into India.
Notably, the spokesperson for Myanmar’s junta has not provided any comments on the reported ceasefire agreement. Additionally, the other two groups in the rebel alliance, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and the Arakan Army (AA) have yet to respond to requests for comment on the outcome of the talks.