To Hopeland and Back: The 23rd trip

Day Eight. Saturday, 12 November 2016

When China sneezes, the whole world catches cold.
Bangkok Post, 10 October 2016

Today I’m meeting friends who can open their hearts to me, and mine to them.

We naturally begin our non-agenda conversation with Burmese domestic politics (Section 66d, etc) which naturally drifts to the peace process, the involvement by big powers, and, as can be expected, to China.

New route for Yunnan-Kyaukphyu railway

 The following are the excerpts:

·         The MoU for the Yunnan-Kyaukphyu railway project has expired. And China seems to have decided on a new proposal: Instead of Mangxi (Mong Khawn to Shans)- Ruili (Mong Mao to Shans)- Muse-Lashio, as the previous project called for, it is now proposing a new route: Mangxi- Lincang-Mengding (Mong Ting to Shans)- Chinshwehaw (in Kokang on the Burmese side) – Kunlong and Lashio. When the State Counselor visited China in August, a new agreement was signed to build a (new?) bridge in Kunlong on the Salween, which connects Chinshwehaw with Hsenwi and Lashio.
As the projected Chinshwehaw-Kunlong-Lashio railway passes along the Ting River, a tributary of the Salween, and forms as a natural boundary between Kokang and Wa, the implication is that the Wa will be torn between its security concern and the reluctance to offend China. “They will also realize that if Naypyitaw gives everything Beijing wants, which is not foreseeable at this time, their status as China’s proxy will become precarious,” comments one.

·         China is said to have 3 special departments under its foreign ministry: Myanmar Affairs, North Korean Affairs, and Afghan Affairs.
It proves how high Beijing is prioritizing Burma.

·         A yet-to-be confirmed report also says China had proposed to CinC Min Aung Hlaing, during his late October visit, to form border committees as Burma has been doing with Thailand:

1.      Township level Border Committee (TBC): meets every month, as necessity calls for, led by top area military officers from each side
2.      Regional level Border Committee (RBC): meets every 6 months, as necessity calls for, led by regional army commanders
3.      Joint Border Committee (JBC): meets every year, as necessity calls for, led by foreign ministers from each side
4.      High Level Committee (HLC):meets as need arises, led by top commanders of each armed forces

In the evening, representatives from Shan parties, armies and CSOs meet at Shan Yoya, a Shan restaurant at Wadan Road, near the Panda Hotel, to discuss how, where, and when the Committee for Shan State Unity (CSSU) should be held to plan for the National level Political Dialogue (ND).

This informal meeting results in 3 informal resolutions:

·         The venue should be Taunggyi
·         The date should be 27-29 November. (This was later postponed to December as hotels in Taunggyi are full during the Shan New Year which falls on 30 November)
·         The non-Shan parties/CSOs will be invited

We also discuss participation by non-signatory EAOs in the upcoming ND. There are however 2 different views:

·         On the one hand, the non-signatories who are bilateral signatories should be made eligible to join. If their participation is denied, then it will be difficult to implement any decisions passed by the Union Peace Conference (which is held to present the results of the NDs in areas under their control)
·         On the other hand, there are those on both sides: government and signatory EAOs) who see that by allowing bilateral agreement signatories to join the ND and the UPC, the NCA will become meaningless

There’s an old saying  that says,” Where there is a will, there is a way.” So do we have the will?


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