Huang Yanling’s grandparents had thought they could never return home to China when they sought asylum in Myanmar almost six decades ago.
The pair from Tengchong, in Yunnan ( 雲南 ) province, were driven out of the country along with countless others when a nationwide famine hit as a result of Mao Zedong’s ( 毛澤東 ) Great Leap Forward in 1959.
Little did they know that more than 50 years later their future granddaughter Huang, would have returned to Yunnan as an immigrant to run the family’s jade merchant business, or that in a reversal of their own misfortune, many Myanmese would one day be making the opposite journey, seeking safety on the Chinese side of the border.
Yun Sun, a senior associate with the East Asia Programme at the Stimson Centre, said the latest fighting – just two months after the much-touted 21st Century Panglong peace conference – was a carefully calculated move by the rebel groups to raise their profile in Suu Kyi’s peace talks and garner outside attention from countries like China.
“Many may think the Panglong conference is a historical turning point in Myanmar’s ethnic problems, but frankly it was unrealistic to believe so,” she said.
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