China Says it Will Play Constructive Role in Myanmar Peace Talks
BEIJING – China on Thursday showed its support for the ongoing meeting between the Myanmar government and the country’s ethnic minorities aimed at charting out a peace process following decades of armed conflict, and assured it would play a constructive role in the talks.
At a press conference, Beijing foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying stressed that as a neighbor and friend, China backs all efforts to achieve peace and national reconciliation in Myanmar.
Authorities and ethnic groups in Myanmar kicked off a historic meet Wednesday with 1,800 participants including representatives from the government, army, guerrilla groups and international observers.
Some 18 guerrilla groups are taking part in the five-day talks, which will exclude discussion on the Rohingya Muslim minority, whose members are not recognized as Myanmar citizens but as Bangladeshi immigrants.
The meet is the result of an initiative by de facto Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is at the forefront of the country’s first democratic government following decades of military dictatorship.
Greater autonomy is the main demand of nearly all ethnic minorities in the country, including the Chin, Kachin, Karen, Kokang, Kayah, Mon, Rakain and the Shan communities, who together represent over 30 percent of the country’s population.
The Kokang, in particular, are of Chinese origin and live in a strategic China-Myanmar border area, which has sometimes led to their conflict with the Myanmar army spillover onto Chinese soil.
Hua said Beijing hopes the involved sides can resolve their differences peacefully and reach an early national ceasefire, adding that China will continue to play a constructive role and contribute to peace and stability at the border.
Suu Kyi had visited China two weeks ago to meet with its leaders and to seek, among other things, support for the Myanmar peace talks, in which Beijing special envoy Sun Guoxiang is also taking part.