Burmese military, ethnic rebel forces agree to immediate ceasefire

Burma’s military has reached a cease-fire agreement with an alliance of ethnic minority guerrilla groups it has been battling in the country’s northeast, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Friday. Burma’s military government confirmed the development.

The agreement was brokered at talks mediated by China on Wednesday and Thursday in Kunming, a Chinese provincial capital about 250 miles from the border with Burma, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said.

“China hopes the relevant parties in Myanmar can conscientiously implement the agreement, exercise maximum restraint toward each other and solve the issues through dialogue and consultations,” she said at a daily briefing in Beijing.

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Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun, the spokesperson of Burma’s ruling military council, said in an audio note to journalists that the two sides had met in Kunming and after talks, agreed on a temporary cease-fire agreement.

“We will continue discussions We will continue to work for the strengthening of the cease-fire.” Zaw Min Tun said.

A previous cease-fire pact reached in mid-December was not honored by either side.

Chinese spokesperson Mao said the military and the Three Brotherhood Alliance — which comprises the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army and the Arakan Army — agreed to an immediate cease-fire, the disengaging of military personnel and the settlement of their disputes through negotiations.

“The two sides promised not to undermine the safety of Chinese people living in the border area and Chinese projects and personnel in Myanmar,” she said.

Min Aung Hlaing

Commander-in-Chief of Burma’s armed forces, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing delivers his speech at the IX Moscow conference on international security in Moscow, Russia, June 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool, File)

Independent Burmese media and foreign media with Burmese-language news services reported similar details, but there was no immediate direct word from the alliance about the cease-fire development.

The media reports said the military agreed to stop aerial bombing and artillery shelling in northern Shan state, which abuts China, and the Three Brotherhood Alliance agreed to halt its offensive and not seek to capture more towns and army encampments.

The reports said the cease-fire would not apply to fighting in other regions of Burma.

Burma has been wracked by violence that began after the army ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021. The Three Brotherhood Alliance launched an offensive against the military in October and took control of Laukkaing, a key city on the border with China, last week.

Their attacks have posed the greatest battlefield challenge to Burma’s military rulers since the army takeover.

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Much of the fighting is along Burma’s border with China, blocking cross-border trade and threatening further political destabilization of Burma, a strategic ally of China that is already tangled in civil war in many parts of the country.

China is concerned about the rising violence and the safety of Chinese citizens in northern Burma. China has also been cracking down on cyberscam operations that have trafficked Chinese workers into Burma and forced them to work, including in Laukkaing.

The alliance has claimed widespread victories, including the seizure of more than 250 military posts, about a dozen towns and five major border crossing points controlling crucial trade with China.

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Zaw Min Tun said Burma and China will continue to negotiate reopening the border trading gates, which were closed after combat began and most or all of which are now in the hands of the Three Brotherhood Alliance.

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