Myanmar Ethnic Clashes Put Spotlight on China

Myanmar Ethnic Clashes Put Spotlight on China

MAE SOT, Thailand -- On June 9, deadly clashes broke out in northern Myanmar between the country's army and the ethnic minority Kachin Independence Army (KIA). The fighting reportedly erupted after Myanmar's military moved to secure the Tarpein Hydropower Project, a Chinese-built dam that came online in January. The plant, which sits on a tributary of the Irrawaddy River close to rebel-held areas, has since suspended its operations, and the clashes have spread to surrounding regions, pushing Myanmar's strategic borderlands to the brink of civil war.

Rights activists say the Myanmar army's offensive has brought a range of rights abuses, from the press-ganging of civilians into work as military porters to the abuse of women and young girls. More than 10,000 civilians have since sought refuge along the Myanmar-China border as leaders from both sides begin tentative cease-fire talks.

The current skirmish is the latest in a string of clashes along Myanmar's troubled periphery, all linked to a junta plan to incorporate ethnic groups that had signed cease-fire agreements into a unified Border Guard Force (BGF) ahead of last November's election. In August 2009, tensions over the BGF plan also exploded into open clashes in the Kokang Special Region of Shan state, sending 30,000 refugees fleeing over the Chinese border and greatly riling China's leadership. Since the election, fighting has also erupted across Karen state to the south and in other parts of Shan state.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.