Chinese President denies supplying arms to ethnic armed groups

19 January 2020
Chinese President denies supplying arms to ethnic armed groups
Photo: Senior General Min Aung Hlaing

In a meeting with Myanmar Defence Services Commander in Chief, Chinese President Xi Jinping denied his country was supplying arms to ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) in Myanmar.

Visiting Chinese President Xi met Senior General Min Aung Hlaing at the Reception Hall of Horizon Lake View Resort Hotel in Naypyitaw on January 18.

In a press release issued by the Defence Services or Tatmadaw, Chinese President Xi is quoted as saying, “We categorically deny allegations of supplying arms to ethnic armed organizations in Myanmar but they can acquire these arms by other means, so that we will look into this issue thoroughly to resolve it.”

Tatmadaw True News Information Team Secretary Brig. Gen. Zaw Min Tun said, “President Xi said that they did not accept intervention in other nations’ affairs and it was important to preserve long time Paukpaw (fraternal) relation and to promote the cooperation in border areas along their over 2,000 Km long border.”

President Xi reportedly added that China never accepted use of Chinese territory by any organization to cause infringement in Myanmar.

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing said, “The control of government is very much important for stability and the maintaining law and order in the country so that we are trying to keep stability and maintaining law and order in our country by various means but it will be difficult for the people to keep their trust in us unless we can restore peace and see progress in the development of the country despite many attempts.”

President Xi reportedly gave his assurance in his discussions with Myanmar leaders that his country would support and stand behind the Myanmar government in the international arena including the case filed against Myanmar at the ICJ by the government of Gambia.

Government troops reportedly founds a large arms cache stored and hidden by the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) operating along the Sino-Myanmar border in late 2019. Many of the weapons were made in China.

There has been criticism that China has been supplying arms to the ethnic rebel Northern Alliance.

However, the Tatmadaw, in a response to a query from Mizzima, said that they did not have concrete evidence that arms were being supplied by China.

TNLA Information Department In-charge Maj. Ta Aik Kyaw said, “We don’t have any relations with China except mediation work in the peace negotiations with the government.”

Political analyst Than Soe Naing said, “I don’t have any knowledge on supplying of arms by China but these organizations could get these weapons from some parts of the Chinese army in Yunnan province which is contiguous with Myanmar though there is no official policy of selling arms to these organizations. I heard that these organizations of the northern alliance bought these weapons from Wa State rather than directly from China but I am not sure about the credibility of these news reports.”

During President Xi’s visit to Myanmar there was a cessation of clashes and engagements between the Tatmadaw and northern alliance organizations except only one engagement with Arakan Army (AA) in Rakhine State.

The United Wa State Party (UWSP) issued a press statement on January 15 which says they hope both sides can find a solution to resolve bottleneck issues in the peace process between Tatmadaw and EAOs based in northern Myanmar during Chinese President Xi’s visit to Myanmar.

These press statements suggest China plays a crucial role not only in restoring peace in Myanmar but also in dealing with the northern alliance organizations and the push to obtain a ceasefire.