World / Asia-Pacific

Myanmar vows to maintain peace on China border

By Qin Zhongwei (China Daily) Updated: 2013-01-21 00:08

Myanmar pledged to maintain peace and security on its border with China when President U Thein Sein met visiting Chinese officials in Yangon on Saturday.

The promise to China came shortly after the Myanmar government announced a cease-fire following a recent escalation of clashes in the country's north.

Chinese Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Fu Ying, special envoy of the Chinese government, visited Myanmar on Saturday. During her meeting with U Thein Sein, Fu raised China's concerns about Myanmar and U Thein Sein briefed Fu the latest conflict.

Fu told China Central Television after the two-hour meeting that the two sides "reached consensus and will strive for" a stable and peaceful border to ensure people's lives are not affected by the conflict.

U Thein Sein met a Chinese military delegation led by Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Qi Jianguo on Saturday. Qi was in Yangon for the first round of China-Myanmar strategic security consultation.

Qi said China hopes the Myanmar government will make Myanmar's domestic social harmony and peace in its northern region a high priority. He said the Chinese government will take care of the security needs in the China-Myanmar border areas, and adopt effective measures to achieve stability. U Thein Sein said he hopes the two sides will make joint efforts to safeguard common interests and maintain peace and stability in their border regions.

Armed clashes have been escalating since the end of December in northern Myanmar's Kachin State. The fighting has resulted in four bombs landing on the Chinese side, prompting China to lodge serious representations with Myanmar, requiring its government to take effective measures to stop such incidents from happening again.

While continuing its policy of non-interference in other countries' domestic affairs, China can assist Myanmar by providing channels for the two sides of its conflict to return to the negotiation table, and to guarantee trade across the border and the normal lives of Chinese citizens living near the region, said Zhao Gancheng, director of South Asia Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies. The Myanmar government has invited the Kachin Independence Organization, the parent organization of the Kachin Independence Army, to resume peace talks, official media reported on Sunday.

The peace talk proposal came after a Jan 11 proposal in the Lower House of the Parliament to hold the peace negotiations in a public online forum, as both sides of the conflict find it difficult to meet at a table to discuss the ongoing conflicts in Kachin State.

The Myanmar government announced a unilateral cease-fire on Friday with the KIA, saying government troops will stop military offensives in the area of Lajayan from Saturday at 6:00 am local time.

Thai-based spokesman for KIA said Myanmar troops attacked rebels in northeast Kachin on Sunday despite the cease-fire order from the president.

The current situation may cast a shadow on the country's ongoing reforms and raise doubts over the government's sincerity to reform, said Song Qingrun, an expert on Myanmar at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

"The reforms require a continuous and nationwide peaceful environment. And above all, the conflicts pose a threat to people who want to invest in Myanmar," Song said, adding that despite the ongoing efforts in dialogue and negotiation, further exchange of gunfire will be inevitable.

Xinhua and Reuters contributed to this story.

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