Myanmar’s ethnic armed groups declare ceasefire

Myanmar’s military and ethnic armed groups, facilitated by China, declare a ceasefire after months of conflict.

Myanmar’s military and an alliance of armed ethnic minority groups have declared a ceasefire mediated by China, marking a significant development in the conflict that has posed a major challenge to the junta since it seized power in 2021. The months-long fighting, initiated by the alliance in October, has resulted in hundreds of casualties and displaced over half a million people.

The alliance, consisting of the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and the Arakan Army (AA), launched an offensive against the junta, capturing key towns and border hubs in Myanmar’s northern Shan state crucial for trade with China – a key military ally and arms supplier.

Junta spokesperson Zaw Min Tun confirmed the ceasefire agreement, stating that with China’s facilitation, a meeting took place in Kunming, resulting in the accord. Tar Bhone Kyaw of the TNLA mentioned that the agreement includes reopening border trade with China.

China also announced the ceasefire, emphasizing an immediate cessation of hostilities, disengagement of military personnel, and peaceful negotiations to address disputes and demands. The talks occurred with Chinese mediation in Kunming, Yunnan province, bordering Myanmar.

Notably, China’s relationship with the junta has faced strains due to the junta’s failure to crack down on online scams targeting Chinese citizens. The conflict in Laukkai town, known for gambling, prostitution, and online scams, led to people fleeing the area. The alliance, claiming control over the town, further heightened tensions.

In response to reported artillery shell explosions near the China-Myanmar border, Beijing expressed “strong dissatisfaction,” vowing to take necessary measures to protect its citizens. While last month saw China mediating talks and announcing a “temporary ceasefire,” clashes persisted in Shan state, leading to the evacuation advisory for its citizens along the shared border.

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Mao Ning, emphasized the commitment of both sides not to compromise the safety of Chinese border residents and personnel in Myanmar. The ceasefire agreement is seen as a positive step in maintaining peace and stability at the border, aligning with the interests of all parties involved. The ongoing developments underscore the complex dynamics between China, the Myanmar junta, and ethnic armed groups in the region.