Stimson in the News

Yun Sun quoted in Eurasia Review on China’s response to the Kokang Conflict in Myanmar

By Yun Sun
in Program

On 9 February 2015 the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) led by Peng Jiasheng (also known as Phone Kyar Shin or Pheung Kya-shin) suddenly returned to Laukkai, the Kokang capital with an attack on government security forces there. Serious fighting took place which resulted in the exodus of many Kokang Chinese seeking refuge in Chinese territory. Fighting lasted for several days with heavy casualties on both sides. MNDAA failed to capture Laukkai, however, and fled to the border and allegedly entered into Chinese territory. Myanmar security forces went in pursuit and fired shells at the area they believed to be the rebels’ hiding place. The Myanmar air force joined the fighting and on 13 March a fighter plane dropped bombs on the Chinese side of the border, killing five Chinese villagers and wounding eight (Xue Li, 2015). Beijing protested and Nay Pyi Daw apologized (Tiezzi, 2015). High level meetings followed between the two countries to look for a solution.


While China does not want to get involved in the Kokang Chinese matter, since that would be interfering in the internal affairs of another country, China will not help Myanmar crush the rebels either. Yun Sun, a fellow at the East Asia Program at the Henry L. Stimson Center and a non-resident fellow with the Brooking Institution argues:

As a national policy, China does not support Peng Jiasheng. However, if Peng does successfully consolidate his control of Kokang, China will not opt to oppose him. China will accommodate such a reality, even if it indicates more uncertainties and risks. …To manage uncertainty and resolve conflict requires strengths and wisdom from the Burmese authorities. Any suspicion of China undermining the process is as equally misplaced as any hope for China to solve the problem for Burma.” (Sun, 2015).

To read the full article click here

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