Leaders of Myanmar's ethnic Kachin insurgency are urging Beijing to pressure the country's military leaders to end intensifying attacks near Myanmar's border with China and create a 'meaningful' peace. Dr La Ja, general secretary of the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), said he believed only China - rather than the United States and other powers - could influence the Myanmese generals determined to crush the Kachin insurgency. 'We know China wants a stable border so they can come in and invest ... but we want China to know that they can help by putting pressure on the army to stop the attacks and work seriously to create a real and lasting peace,' he told the South China Morning Post yesterday. 'They won't get a stable border any other way ... it is not just about a ceasefire, it is about a real and equal peace. 'The army is still running this, and not the executive of President Thein Sein - and it is the army that China can influence like no other country. The artillery pieces they are now firing at us are from China.' Talks between the Kachin and the government have failed to stop the fighting that has raged since a 17-year ceasefire shattered in June last year amid tensions over a Chinese-built dam in the Kachin region. Chinese officials and envoys have spoken repeatedly of the need for stability and reconciliation in Myanmar but have not been directly involved in attempts to settle its long-restive border insurgencies. Myanmese troops are now closing in on Laiza, the mountainous border stronghold of the KIO and its military arm, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). Human rights' groups say 75,000 people have been displaced in the fighting, with more than 45,000 fleeing their villages to camps near the border, which China has closed. A Human Rights Watch report issued in March detailed 'unchecked abuses' by government troops, including rapes, torture and the razing of villages. It also warned that the KIA had recruited child soldiers. The Kachin rebels, mostly Christian, are outnumbered and outgunned by government troops, but have a reputation for ruthlessness and cunning as guerillas dating back to the second world war when they fought the Japanese, alongside British and American troops. Under mounting international pressure to forge an end to violence that threatens his wider reforms, Thein Sein formed a committee this month to work for a ceasefire. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton have recently expressed concerns at intensifying violence, urging both sides to talk. Committee officials met a KIA representative in the Thai province of Chiang Rai at the weekend, but La Ja warned that the discussions were at a very early stage. While ceasefires with other long-standing ethnic insurgent groups have buttressed the rising international stature of Thein Sein's nominally civilian government, La Ja insists they remain immensely fragile and greater work is still needed. He said rather than a ceasefire and the prospect of participation in national elections under the 2008 constitution that still guarantees the military seats in Myanmar's new parliament, the Kachin wanted autonomy and a more equal sharing of power under a federal system. La Ja spoke of the 'spirit' of the federal union forged by Burmese independence hero Aung San - father of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi - in 1947. 'Only when we live up to the spirit of a true federal union will we see stability,' he said. The Kachin state, which borders China and India in Myanmar's mountainous northeast, is considered highly strategic. As well as having extensive gold and jade potential, its rivers are considered suitable for dams. Chinese firms have invested in several dams in the area and Kachin opposition last year helped force Thein Sein's decision to halt work on the dam at Myitsone. The Chinese-invested project on the Irrawaddy would have been Myanmar's largest dam, flooding an area the size of Singapore to provide power, mostly to Yunnan. The decision to halt work indefinitely surprised international envoys and analysts, and was viewed as a sign that Myanmar's government was keen to broaden relations beyond a growing reliance on China. It came amid a series of other moves, including releasing political prisoners and allowing Suu Kyi to stand for parliament, that have sparked international engagement with Myanmar in recent months. Western-led sanctions are now in the process of being lifted.