China: Big country, small heart

When China offered to facilitate the latest round of peace talks between Naypyitaw and the Kachin Independence Organization / Kachin Independence Army (KIO/KIA), the only major armed movement that has yet to reach a ceasefire, it was to a large extent welcomed by those involved.

Of course, there were some disappointment expressed by the United Wa State Army (UWSA) that had offered to host the planned meeting, and some KIO officials who were practically forced by Beijing to come to the meeting in Ruili without adequate consultation among themselves.

At the beginning of the meeting which was held on 4 February, Chinese officials re-assured their guests of Beijing’s strict adherence to non-interference in Burma’s internal affairs and that they were there only to observe and facilitate.

The meeting went well until the KIO and Naypyitaw’s negotiator U Aung Min began discussing humanitarian assistance for the 100,000 IDPs and setting up monitoring mechanisms to oversee the anticipated ceasefire between the two sides.

All of a sudden, both sides were in for one of the shocks that came totally unexpected: Chinese officials, contrary to what they had promised at the beginning of the meeting, said they wouldn’t agree to any deliberation on the said subjects, let alone agreement.

Due to the Chinese intervention, the chastened negotiators finally contented themselves by agreeing to pursue the matter further at the next meeting.

SHAN later asked what the rationale was behind the Chinese outburst. All the respondents from the Burmese side were in agreement about it: China was afraid the United Nations and behind it the United States, would seize the day to put themselves right on its border.

SHAN of course is not entirely sure if they were right, having no opportunity to make inquiries on the Chinese side.

But suppose they were right, what does it signify?

SHAN believes it is strongly suggestive of little or no self confidence on the part of the Chinese leadership, despite the country’s bigness and growing wealth and strength.

A relevant example is Beijing’s steadfast, hysterical rejection to Tibel’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama’s call for increased autonomy, which is a large step away from Independence.

The inevitable diagnosis is that China is a sick country still haunted by the long gone, best forgotten humiliation at the hands of the foreign powers during the Opium Wars, Boxer Rebellion and Japanese invasion. The obvious conclusion is that unless it is cured, matters won’t end until the day China can even the score.

SHAN hopes SHAN is wrong because if it isn’t, the region and the rest of the world are in for more horrors of an all-out war.

At least, one thing seems to be certain after the meeting in Ruili. The next round of peace talks will not take place in China. Likely not even the later ones.


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