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Kokang conflict will damage China-Myanmar ties

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Subject

The fallout from the violence in Kokang.

Significance

On February 9, fighting broke out in Kokang between Myanmar's military ('Tatmadaw') and rebel group the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), which fights for greater autonomy within Myanmar. Kokang, in northern Shan State, borders China. Most Kokang people are ethnic Chinese and many speak Mandarin. Myanmar's government faces two problems: a peace process with ethnic armed rebel groups that is now adrift, and a sudden spike in frictions with Beijing while large numbers of refugees seek sanctuary in China.

Impacts

  • Absent a change in the institutional culture, the Tatmadaw will be wary of negotiating with the rebels.
  • In the near term, further bilateral government-rebel peace deals are more likely than a nationwide deal.
  • The opposition National League for Democracy will try to avoid dealing publically with Kokang if possible.
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