Washington [US], June 7 (ANI): Chinese-sponsored discussions in Myanmar between the junta and three ethnic armies known as the Brotherhood Alliance to persuade the three to back the military's election plan ended without an agreement Friday, according to Voice of America (VOA).
The Arakan Army, the Ta'ang National Liberation Army, and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army have formed an alliance to provide military training and supplies to anti-junta groups.
The negotiations took place over two days in the Mongla district of Shan State in northern Myanmar, close to the Chinese border. According to local accounts, Guo Bao, China's special envoy from the Foreign Affairs Department of the adjacent Chinese province Yunnan, attended the discussions, according to VOA.
VOA is part of the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM), the government agency that oversees all non-military, US international broadcasting.
"Both parties exchanged opinions and agreed to hold a second meeting," Kyi Myint, a spokesman for the National Democratic Alliance Army, which is separate from the Myanmar National Democratic Army and is one of the groups that facilitated the talks, told VOA.
"Three ethnic armed groups were in attendance to express their views and listen to the junta's point of view," according to Kyi Myint, who coordinated the meeting.
"They said they would submit reports to their respective central executive committees," he added, "but they did not reach any agreements with the junta officials."The peace talks between the junta and the alliance, assisted by China, were the first since the military coup in 2021, VOA reported.
"We would not be willing to meet with the junta without China," said Khaing Thu Kha, a spokesman for the Arakan Army, in a phone interview with VOA on Thursday.
He told VOA, "We demanded the release of our detained members by the junta, to revoke the designation of our group as an 'outlaw association' and to end travel restrictions in Rakhine so that aid can be delivered to the victims of Cyclone Mocha," which struck the western province May 14.
According to local reports, the junta officials at the meeting asked the alliance to support its long-planned election, but the alliance refused to discuss the matter.
The junta asked the ethnic armed groups to support its election plan after the coup in 2021, with the promise that power would go to the winning party. However, the junta has not set a date for the election and has only stated that it will take place when there is peace. The planned election has been called illegal both in the country and around the world, VOA reported.
"It is premature at this time for our side to make definitive statements," Khaing Thu Kha told VOA.
When asked about China's role in the peace talks, Khaing Thu Kha said, "China was only sponsoring the meeting and they were not involved in our discussion."Although there is no official cease-fire between the armed groups and the Myanmar junta, according to Khaing Thu Kha, the Arakan Army has ceased fighting with the Myanmar military on humanitarian grounds. The other two armed organizations, the Ta'ang National Liberation Army and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, have fought the junta's forces on occasion, but are not engaged in fights with the military now, he said, VOA reported.
A May 30 alliance statement pointed to China's role in initiating the meeting, saying that in "accordance with the mediation" of Chinese authorities, alliance and junta representatives would meet in Mongla on June 1.
State media in Myanmar reported last Tuesday that a top official from Chinese military intelligence, Major General Yang Yang, conferred with the junta's deputy leader in Myanmar's capital, Naypyidaw, prior to the peace talks. The official, the first Chinese military leader to publicly visit Myanmar since the 2021 coup, met with Deputy Senior General Soe Win to discuss "cooperation between the two armies."Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang also came to Naypyidaw on May 2, meeting with the junta's leader, General Min Aung Hlaing, VOA reported.
"Such visits by Chinese officials only serve to bolster the junta's legitimacy," said Than Soe Naing.
According to the online publication Irrawaddy, Qin's visit was followed by protests around Myanmar over China's connection with the military junta. One of these was a demonstration in Letpadaung, in the Sagaing region, home to a contentious copper mine operated by China, during which a Chinese flag was burned.
A demonstration by Burmese Americans against China's support for the military junta in Myanmar also took place outside of the Chinese Consulate General in New York Friday. (ANI)