Beijing, Sep 1 (IANS) Expressing support for the ongoing talks between the Myanmar government and the country’s ethnic minorities aimed at charting out a peace process following decades of armed conflict, China on Thursday assured it would play a constructive role in the peace process.
At a press conference, Beijing Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: “The Chinese side adopts an amicable policy towards Myanmar. The Chinese side will continue to consolidate its traditional friendship, enhance mutually-beneficial cooperation with Myanmar, and support Myanmar’s efforts in maintaining stability, promoting development, and improving people’s livelihood.”
Authorities and ethnic groups in Myanmar kicked off a historic meet on Wednesday with 1,800 participants including representatives from the government, army, guerrilla groups and international observers, EFE news reported.
Some 18 guerrilla groups are taking part in the five-day talks, which will exclude discussion on the Rohingya Muslim minority, whose members are not recognised as Myanmar citizens but as Bangladeshi immigrants.
The meet is the result of an initiative by de facto Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is at the forefront of the country’s first democratic government following decades of military dictatorship.
“If all those who play a part … in the peace process cultivate the wisdom to reconcile differing views for the good of the people … we will surely be able to build the democratic federal union of our dreams,” said Suu Kyi in her opening remarks, EFE news cited Jakarta Globe.
Greater autonomy is the main demand of nearly all ethnic minorities in the country, including the Chin, Kachin, Karen, Kokang, Kayah, Mon, Rakain and the Shan communities, who together represent over 30 per cent of the country’s population.
The Kokang, in particular, are of Chinese origin and live in a strategic China-Myanmar border area, which has sometimes led to their conflict with the Myanmar army spillover onto Chinese soil.
Suu Kyi had visited China two weeks ago to meet its leaders and to seek, among other things, support for the Myanmar peace talks, in which Beijing special envoy Sun Guoxiang is also taking part.