Saturday, June 13, 2009

Junta No 2 Expected to Ask China for Border Help

The Irrawaddy News

The Burmese junta’s number 2, Vice Snr-Gen Maung Aye, is to travel to China soon on a visit analysts say will include talks focusing on the regime’s uneasy relationship with ethnic ceasefire groups based along Sino-Burmese border.

The visit was announced on Friday in the state-run newspaper The New Light of Myanmar, which said Maung Aye and his wife would travel to China “soon.”

Htay Aung, a military researcher with the Network for Democracy and Development based in exile, said that talks between Maung Aye and Chinese government representatives would concentrate on ethnic ceasefire groups who have rejected a regime proposal to be reassigned as border guards.

Several ethnic ceasefire groups, including the powerful United Wa State Army, the Kokang group known as the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and the Kachin Independence Organization, have rejected the proposal.

Maung Aye is expected to urge China to use its influence on the ceasefire groups based along the Sino-Burma border to get them to agree the regime’s plan. (JEG's: how will that happen? boom boom talk? dictator's way?)

Analysts say the regime may have no option but to launch military action against ceasefire groups which refuse to reassign their troops as border guards.

Military analyst Htay Aung believes that the patience of Burmese military commanders is wearing thin because of the stand by ceasefire groups.

China is a major supplier of arms to Burma and provides the regime with much-needed political support at a time when it is coming under intense international pressure over the Aung San Suu Kyi trial.

Chinese foreign ministry officials voiced rare criticism of the trial at a recent meeting in Hanoi with Burmese Foreign Minister Nyan Win.

China is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and Maung Aye is expected to plead for the continued use of the Chinese veto to block any resolution unfavorable to the Naypyidaw regime.

Some Burma watchers believe that China may employ quiet diplomacy to influence regime policy.

Maung Aye, who is Burma’s army commander in chief, is likely to convey the regime’s concern about black market deliveries of Chinese arms to Burma’s ethnic groups along the Sino-Burmese border.

Aung Kyaw Zaw, a former member of communist party of Burma based on the China border, said Burma usually approaches its big neighbor China whenever facing a crisis.

China’s main concern is to maintain stability and it would like to see the Burmese regime and the ceasefire groups negotiate the sensitive issue peacefully.

China relies on the cooperation of the ceasefire groups along the Sino-Burmese border in order to operate trade. A proposed gas pipeline will also pass through areas controlled by the Burmese ceasefire groups. (JEG's: I did not know this... time to use our OWN INFLUENCE with China then...)

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