As we mentioned last Thursday, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), an ethnic Kokang ceasefire group, ended its two-decade ceasefire with the Burmese regime. The ceasefire’s end brought about several days of destructive military combat between the MNDAA and the Tatmadaw, the Burmese army. At its peak, the conflict caused the exodus of as many as 30,000 refugees from the Kokang region of the northeastern Shan State. Most refugees fled to the Yunnan province of China, destabilizing the Chinese border and inciting a rare rebuke from the Chinese government.
STAND has previously discussed the potential for diplomatic cooperation presented by the Tatmadaw’s destabilization of the Sino-Burmese border surrounding the Shan State. While the Burmese regime’s last military campaign in the Shan State warranted only limited warnings from the Chinese government, the Kokang conflict provoked more concerned rhetoric from the China. Much of the Kokang minority population in Burma shares ethnic ties with Chinese in the Yunnan province. The Kokang region of the Shan State hosts a significant population of Chinese nationals, one of whom was reportedly killed by government troops during the recent conflict.
In its rebuke, China urged Burma to “protect the security and legal rights” of Chinese citizens. Though China’s vocabulary of rights was admittedly non-universal, the government’s refugee assistance in the midst of the Kokang refugee crisis indicates a willingness to push for stability and security in the Sino-Burmese border regions. The international community should still push for the establishment of a UN commission of inquiry into the regime’s crimes. In the absence of Chinese cooperation on this initiative, however, the international community must push China to take a greater role in supporting refugee populations border region conflicts and deescalating the Tatmadaw’s campaigns in ethnic minority regions. China runs adjacent to nearly half of Burma’s eastern border. China’s security interests present the opportunity for a number of diplomatic and humanitarian initiatives that can stabilize the Sino-Burmese border and protect the human rights of civilians in the region.
Meanwhile, the United States will occupy the UN Security Council presidency in September. The Security Council presidency presents an “unparalleled opportunity” for the US to end impunity over the regime’s crimes. Sign the petition to push for a UN commission of inquiry into the regime’s crimes in Burma’s ethnic minority regions.
TIME: Why Violence Erupted on the China-Burma Border
Woman and Child Rights Project: Nowhere Else to Go: An Examination of Sexual Trafficking and Related Human Rights Abuses in Southern Burma
ReliefWeb: Refugees Wary of Returning from China
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