China offers Myanmar support to end ethnic unrest near border

Renewed attacks on Myanmese security forces since November 20 have sparked fears in Beijing that violence could spill over border into mainland

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 November, 2016, 5:04pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 November, 2016, 11:07pm

China told Myanmar on Wednesday that the two nations should work together to stabilise their shared border, in the wake of a series of attacks by ethnic armed groups on Myanmese security forces and thousands of people crossing into China to escape the violence.

The attacks since November 20 dealt a major blow to Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s top goal of reaching peace with ethnic minorities, while Beijing is worried about the risk of violence in northern Myanmar spilling onto its side of the border, as it did last year, when five Chinese people were killed.

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China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi told a visiting Myanmar delegation, led by peace commission chair Tin Myo Win, that Beijing was worried by the deteriorating situation and repeated a call for an end to military action and for talks to resolve disputes.

“Both sides should properly use the China-Myanmar high-level diplomatic and military mechanism to jointly maintain the peace and stability of the China-Myanmar border region,” a Foreign Ministry statement paraphrasing Wang said on Wednesday.

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The sudden escalation in the fighting comes as the Myanmar government grapples with a conflict in northwestern Rakhine that has sent hundreds of Rohingya Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh, posing a new challenge to Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi, who swept to power last year on promises of national reconciliation.

Previous fighting along the border pushed thousands of people into China.

Wang expressed support for Myanmar’s internal peace process and also China’s readiness to help.

China, Myanmar consultations focus on maintaining peace and stability in border areas

“China is willing, in accordance with Myanmar’s wishes and on the precondition of not interfering in Myanmar’s internal affairs, to play a constructive role in this regard,” Wang said.

The ministry said Tin Myo Win had explained the peace process and that Myanmar understood Beijing’s concerns and hoped to get Chinese support for improving the situation.