Fighting continues in Myanmar despite China-mediated ceasefire

Members of an ethnic armed forces group, one of the three militias known as the Three Brotherhood Alliance, check weapons the group allegedly seized from Myanmar's army outpost on a hill in Hsenwi township in Shan state, Myanmar, on November 24, 2023. (Photo/AP)

Reports from Myanmar have suggested, that fighting continues in the northeast of the country between the military government and an alliance of ethnic minority armed groups, even after China announced that the two sides had reached agreement on a ceasefire at meetings it had brokered.

Clashes have been raging in the northern part of Myanmar’s Shan state since October 27, when the Arakan Army, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, branding themselves the Three Brotherhood Alliance, launched a coordinated offensive.

MeKong News, an online news site reporting from Shan state, said on its Facebook page that the army was carrying out airstrikes and firing heavy weapons on Friday morning in the area around 169 kilometres Trade Zone in Muse, a major city that is a border crossing point with China.

The report said that according to town residents, the Three Brotherhood Alliance forces had occupied a strategic hill near the trade zone on Thursday evening after heavy fighting.

There were similar reports in other Myanmar media, including Khit Thit news, but no way to independently confirm them.

Major General Zaw Min Tun, spokesperson of the ruling military council, was quoted in the state-run Myanma Alinn newspaper on Friday as saying that there was fighting in the areas between Namhkam township and the Trade Zone in Muse, about 30 kilometres to its east.

China mediated ceasefire

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning has said Thursday on the sidelines of a news conference in Beijing that China had acted as a mediator for a cease-fire between the army and the alliance, and that there had been a notable de-escalation of fighting in the area near the border with China.

She said China has provided support and facilitation for dialogue and the meetings had “reached agreement on a number of arrangements, including the temporary cease-fire and maintaining the momentum of dialogue.”

“China hopes that relevant parties in Myanmar can speed up efforts to implement what has been agreed, exercise maximum restraint, actively ease the situation on the ground, promptly manage sporadic confrontation events and together realize the soft landing of the situation in northern Myanmar.” Mao Ning said.

The Chinese statement did not give a date for when the ceasefire would go into effect.

'Operation 1027' continues

The Associated Press received no immediate response to requests for comment about a ceasefire from representatives of the Three Brotherhood Alliance.

The alliance said in its daily report late Thursday on the Telegram messaging platform that it would “continue to implement the military and political objectives as anticipated since the implementation of Operation 1027,” which is its name for the offensive.

It has declared previously that one of its goals is the eradication of the military regime that seized power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021.

The Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, is a military organisation of the Kokang minority that is trying to oust a rival Kokang group backed by the military government from its seat of power in the key border city of Laukkaing.

It has said that one of its goals is to rid the region of major organised criminal enterprises including cyberscam operations controlled by Chinese investors in collusion with local Myanmar warlords.

China has also been pressing to end such operations, which have become a major embarrassment.

The offensive of the well-trained and well armed ethnic militias has been seen as a significant challenge for the army, which has struggled to contain a nationwide uprising by members of the People's Defense Force (PDF), a pro-democracy armed group established after the 2021 army takeover.

The various PDF groups that operate around the country have joined forces with well-organized, battle-hardened ethnic armed groups — including those in the Three Brotherhood Alliance — that have been fighting Myanmar’s central government for greater autonomy for decades.


Source: TRT