A few minutes every morning is all you need.
Stay up to date on the world's Headlines and Human Stories. It's fun, it's factual, it's fluff-free.
The backstory: China and Myanmar share a border along Myanmar’s northeastern frontier, south of China. The two are also big trading partners. In 2021, a military junta took over Myanmar’s government. China is a key ally of the current government, which has faced a lot of issues in trying to solidify its rule.
Myanmar is currently dealing with a weak economy and conflict stemming from different ethnic groups that have formed militias aiming to capture different areas from the ruling junta. The opposition is estimated to control up to half of the country’s territory. Some of these groups are associated with former government leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Many of them have formed an alliance known as the People’s Defense Force (PDF).
With all the violent clashes between rebel groups and the junta since 2021, the UN estimates that more than 1.8 million people have been internally displaced. Many displaced people have also fled to China to escape the fighting. On top of all that, the border towns host cybercrime and scam operations that target mostly Chinese people, and China has been working to crack down on these networks.
More recently: Since last Friday, ethnic rebel groups in Myanmar, consisting of the Arakan Army, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, calling themselves the Three Brotherhood Alliance, got together to start capturing military targets in the Shan state (which is in Myanmar’s northeast). At this point, the alliance has said it's seized several towns and a trade outpost, as well as parts of key roads to China. The Myanmar junta confirmed that it’s lost control of some northern areas, including one along the border with China.
The development: On Tuesday, Myanmar’s state media reported that China’s public security minister, Wang Xiaohong, visited the country to meet with junta leader Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing. The two reportedly spoke on the militant groups’ coordinated attacks and touched on security along the border. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Myanmar's military launched air strikes on territory taken by rebels, according to militia spokesmen. On Thursday, China called for a ceasefire, urging everyone involved to work toward a peaceful resolution.
“China is closely following the conflict in northern Myanmar,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Thursday at a regular press briefing. “We urge all parties to immediately cease fire, stick to dialogue and consultation, resolve their differences with peaceful means, and avoid escalation.”
The Myanmar military is under "unprecedented pressure to respond to the sharpest military reverses it has suffered,” Bangkok-based security analyst Anthony Davis told AFP.