The first thing I would like to say is my sincere thanks to Ms Yun Sun for writing this report. She certainly knows more than us (that means me) about China, Wa and the Kachin.
On China, these are the things I’ve learned:
- Its official policy is “persuading for peace and facilitating dialogues”
- There are certain Chinese special interest groups and individuals who have offered direct financial support for ethnic armed organizations in Myanmar:
- Yunnan Jingcheng Group, founded by Jingpo (Kachin) businessman Dong Lecheng. His hotel in Ruili was the venue for negotiation between Kachin Independence Organization/Army (KIO/KIA) and the Myanmar government in 2013
- Yucheng group, a private financial company founded by a 34 year old Ding Ning, currently under criminal investigation, had reportedly provided funding to six armed groups active on the border: Arakan Army (AA), KIO/KIA, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA),National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and United Wa State Army (UWSA)
- The political and financial support KIA enjoys from their Chinese Kachin brothers is perhaps the strongest among all ethnic armed groups. Such strong support carries important sway in China, because the local governments are keen to pacify ethnic minority groups for the sake of social stability
- But China is not really happy about the KIO/KIA on several factors: Not always supportive of Chinese investments, maintaining close ties with western countries and organizations, attempts of “internationalization of the Kachin issue” by proposing to invite the United States, the UK etc into the peace process, its radical hardliners opting for independence and “stalling the peace process” through the alliance under its leadership, the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC)
- Among all the ethnic groups in Myanmar, UWSA perhaps has the closest ties with and elicits the most sympathy from China, to the extent that some local officials regard UWSA as China’s “illegitimate child”
- China will not push UWSA to quit the peace process; however, neither will it push UWSA to embrace by any settlement it is unwilling to accept. In the view of both China and UWSA, such an imposed settlement would be fragile, unsustainable, and only live likely to cause greater instability in the future
- China supports the tacit leadership role of UWSA among the ethnic armed groups in northern Myanmar
- Chinese authorities seem to tolerate Wa’s illicit economy, including drug trafficking and casinos, for revenue, and instead pursue tighter law enforcement within China to combat the crimes
Other than these six groups, according to her, the Shan State Army North and Shan State Army South also matter to China even though they are farther south from the border. However, compared to other groups, why they matter so much is something the author has only a few general answers, such as their stand on the NCA and cooperation with the government military, which “affect the unity and politics of ethnic armed groups”. For example, the current hostilities between the SSA South and the TNLA.
My thought is that perhaps Ms Yun Sun would like to find out more. And it wouldn’t have been difficult for a researcher of her stature to do that.
A great country is like the lowland toward which all streams flow. Hence, if a great country can lower itself before a small country, it will win over the small country; and if a small country can lower itself before a great country, it will win over the great country. The one wins by stooping; the other by remaining low.
Author: Yun Sun, Henry L. Stimson Center
Publisher: United States Institute of Peace
Chapter 61, Dao De Jing, by Lao Zi