News / Asia

Burma Conflict Tests China’s Policy of Non-Interference

A minority Kachin holds up an image showing Kachin refugees in northern Burma during a protest in front of Burmese Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, January 11, 2013.
A minority Kachin holds up an image showing Kachin refugees in northern Burma during a protest in front of Burmese Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, January 11, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
William Ide
— Fighting in the north of Burma between the military and the Kachin Independence Army is becoming increasingly intense and deadly.

The ongoing violence is not only a major challenge for the administration of Burmese President Thein Sein, but a growing concern for Beijing, as the conflict unfolds on doorstep of the China's southern Yunnan province.

Kachin rebels say over the past few days, Burmese government launched mortar attacks on the town of Laiza, which is located near the Chinese border. According to reports, the attacks killed at least three civilians and injured several others.

Late last week, Kachin living on both sides of the border, some in the Chinese town of Nabang and others in Laiza, rallied at a border checkpoint to protest the ongoing strife. Pictures that were posted online, showed protesters on the Burmese side holding up placards and Kachin in China standing, some with their arms folded, in silent protest.

The Kachin rebels and Burma’s government had managed to maintain a cease-fire until about 18 months ago, when fighting resumed. In recent weeks, Burmese troops have stepped up its intensity in the north of the country, using air power and artillery, turning Laiza into a war zone.

Ian Storey, a security analyst at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, says China is clearly concerned about the conflict because it is taking place so close to its border.

"China does not want to see conflict and instability along its border for several reasons," he said. "One is that conflicts tend to [cause] an outpouring of refugees into Yunnan province. We have seen this with other conflicts in Burma. And also because there are a large number of PRC [Chinese] nationals who live on the other side of the border in Myanmar that are conducting business."

China has long prided itself on what it calls its non-interference approach to diplomacy.  Some Chinese analysts say that, although the policy is generally good, it could end up hurting China in the case of what is going on in Burma.

Du Jifeng, a Southeast Asia policy analyst at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, says that if China does not take a more active role the conflict might get worse.

Du says that, in addition to setting up a place for the two sides to meet, China could try to actively seek a compromise that both parties can agree on and will respect. He adds that China could also use less restraint when the Burmese government infringes on its airspace and territorial rights.

China has offered to host talks between the two sides in the nearby Chinese town of Ruili to try to broker a peace agreement. But as the conflict worsens, the likelihood of that happening remains unclear.

Ian Storey says China’s ability to broker a deal has its limits.

"I understand that in the past Chinese officials have participated as mediators. But at the end of the day it is really down to the Myanmar government and the Kachin Independence Organization to reach a resolution. China can try to facilitate that settlement, but it can't impose it on either of the parties," said Storey.

China has long been a key ally of Burma. But in recent years, the Burmese government has gradually begun to diversify its international portfolio and open links with Japan, the United States and the European Union.

Du says as Burma makes adjustments to its foreign policy and approach, China should do the same.

Du says that, although China has put great importance on working with Burma’s central government in the past, in the future it should interact more with city governments, other sectors and even those anti-government groups.

Analysts say that strengthening ties with minority groups, particularly at the local government level, could not only help the sides resolve the dispute, but ensure the conflict does not spread across the border as well.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Joe from: USA
January 16, 2013 4:16 PM
China should definitely change its outdated "non-interference" foreign policy for its own good. Otherwise, it will be swallowed up by many aggressive countries around its borders (sea and land).

In Response

by: Naphetchun MaungSein from: California USA
January 17, 2013 4:05 PM
China's long standing policy and observance of non-interference in the internal affairs of Myanmar is a correct one. The time soon after Myanmar's independence from Britain in 1948, when the Chinese adopted "a doublicitous policy" of the Chinese Communist Party giving assistance to Burma Communist Party and the Central Government in Peking stating in bold face that the "Chinese government does not support the Burmese Communist Insurgency backfired and exposed for Asia and the rest of the world to witness was a disaster for China. Ne Win ordered all out assault on the BCP along the Chinese border as well as those along the Pegu Yomas where BCP chairman Than Tun was captured dead and the BCP forces supplied with arms and advisers from the PLA were routed and practically decimated never to recover.

The top BCP members like Ba Thein Tin, Kyaw Zaw, etc sought refuge in China and were given asylum quite openly. The WA armed group allied with the BCP abandoned their unholy alliance and sought peace with the Myanmar Military. The most recent critical event was the Kokang faction that made a serious miscalculation / misjudgment of Myanmar's seriousness in protecting it's territorial integrity and National Sovereignty and "pushed the envelope too far" beyond tolerable limits. This time it was Than Shwe and Maung Aye that ordered the Military to action and that Kokang faction was routed within a week by forces under the command of Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, now the Commander-in-Chief. Over 35,000 refugees poured into China but the Kokang expectation of Chinese assistance did not materialize. The Chinese Communist Party and government of today fully underestand the consequences of and the cost it will have to bear is much too high to even consider interference. The Chinese Communist leaders of today are several generations apart from Mao Tse Dong, Chou En Lai, Chen Yi, etc and are more rational, realistic and pragmatic leaders capable of cool and objective decision-making for China. So, the probability of China abanddoning "non-interference in internal affairs of neighbors" is not likely to happen any time soon.

Naphetchun MaungSein

California, USA

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid