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Updated on August 23, 2019 From Myanmar Times

China meets with armed groups over Shan clashes

The members of the Federal Political Negotiation Consultative Committee (FPNCC), the political negotiation team formed by seven ethnic armed groups in Myanmar, met with Sun Guo Xiang, China’s special envoy for Asian affairs in Kunming, Yunnan province, on Tuesday.

Major Mai Aik Aung of the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) confirmed that the all leaders from seven members of the FPNCC attended the meeting in China.

“I don’t know the details about what was discussed in the meeting because our leaders are still attending the meeting and have not come back yet,” Major Mai Aik Aung said.

The Tatmadaw (military) and the TNLA, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, and Arakan Army, which are members of the FPNCC, have clashed since August 15 in areas along the Mandalay-Muse highway in northern Shan State, a major trade route between Myanmar and China.

President’s Office spokesperson U Zaw Htay told journalists in Chiang Mai, Thailand, that the government’s peace commission had also met with the Chinese envoy.

“When we met with Sun Guo Xiang, we talked to him about what we [the government] want and what they [the three ethnic armed groups] should do,” U Zaw Htay said after a meeting with ethnic armed groups that have signed the government’s National Ceasefire Agreement.

The Irrawaddy news site quoted TNLA spokesperson Brigadier General Tar Bone Kyaw as saying that China summoned the members of the FPNCC to pressure them to stop operations by the three ethnic armed groups.

The Irrawady quoted Brig Gen Tar Bone Kyaw as saying: “They said they do not accept our fighting. They do not like it and told us to stop, whatever it takes. It is like they are pressuring us.”

Political analysts say it appears that China wants the main trade route between Myanmar and China to reopen because the fighting hurts the economy.

Deputy Minister of Commerce U Aung Htoo said China has influence over armed groups near its borders, and it would be good if peace efforts and trade in northern Shan could be restarted soon.

“China has great influence over ethics armed groups. If it controls them, there can only be good results for the peace process,” U Aung Htoo said.

Myanmar’s Military Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing met with China’s Ambassador to Myanmar Chen Hai in Nay Pyi Taw on Thursday, according to a statement from the Office of the Commander-in-Chief .

The statement said that the two discussed the clashes between the military and the three groups, how to move the peace process forward, and ways for China to assist.

The statement also said that the military evacuated 28 foreigners who had been trapped by the fighting in Kutkai township in Shan State to Lashio by helicopter.

The foreigners were then transported to Yangon by military plane and arrived in Yangon on Thursday afternoon.

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