Beijing denies MPC official’s accusation over ceasefire talks

An official at the Myanmar Peace Center has accused China of interfering in the long-running negotiations between the government and armed ethnic groups on a national ceasefire, Reuters reported last week.

Beijing has denied the accusations by senior MPC official U Min Zaw Oo, Reuters said in the October 8 report.

It quoted U Min Zaw Oo as saying China’s special envoy to the negotiations, Sun Guoxiang, had urged two of the armed ethnic groups not to sign the ceasefire.

The alleged intervention by Mr Sun came after the government said it did not want the ceasefire agreement to be signed by the ethnic Kokang Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, which has been fighting the Tatmadaw in Kokang territory since February.

Reuters quoted U Min Zaw Oo as saying that Mr Sun had encouraged the United Wa State Army and the Kachin Independence Organisation, two of the biggest armed ethnic groups, not to sign a ceasefire unless the government invited the MNDAA into the process.

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The UWSA and the KIO were not among the eight armed groups that agreed at talks with government negotiators at the MPC on October 4 to sign a ceasefire in Nay Pyi Taw on October 15.

U Min Zaw Oo said “it was time to stop whispering” about China’s alleged interference in the ceasefire talks.

“China usually says they want stability. Of course they want stability but at the same time, they want to wield influence on the groups along the Chinese border,” U Min Zaw Oo told Reuters.

China had also objected to an agreement for observers from Japan and Western countries to witness the signing of the ceasefire agreement, U Min Zaw Oo said.

The accusation that Beijing had interfered in the peace talks was rejected by a spokesman at China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“China has consistently supported all sides in Myanmar in resolving differences through peace talks in service of signing a national-scale ceasefire agreement at an early date,” said the spokesperson, Hong Lei.

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