Thursday, 19 February 2015

Phone home

Nguồn tin:

JUST before the celebrations of Myanmar’s Union Day, not to mention the Chinese new year, a warlord and drug baron in his 80s, Phone Kyar Shin, created spectacular fireworks of his own. His militia launched blistering attacks on the Burmese army around Laukkai, capital of Kokang, a small region of Myanmar bordering China’s Yunnan province.

Perhaps this was revenge: in 2009 the army went after Mr Phone and his Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army. He seems then to have lost control of the army to his deputies. That “Kokang incident” was the bloodiest flare-up among Myanmar’s conflicts in years. As in 2009, the violence sent many ethnic Kokang fleeing for safety to China. On February 17th Myanmar’s president, Thein Sein, declared martial law in Kokang.

The Kokang are a Han-Chinese people who have been in the region for centuries. After the Kokang incident, China was highly critical of the Burmese army, not just for causing a refugee crisis along its border, but also, it seems, because of a sense of shared ethnicity with the Kokang. Mr Phone himself was given sanctuary in China, where he is called Peng Jiasheng.

Since the Kokang incident, Mr Phone has frequently appealed in the Chinese media to notions of shared blood. Many ordinary Chinese believed his claims that in Kokang the Burmese army was acting in pursuit of American interests. Perhaps powerful people in Yunnan backed him.

Mr Phone’s hope, with his attacks, may be to get China to pressure the Burmese government to resolve an issue that is sending waves of refugees across the border—presumably by ordering the army to withdraw. Then Mr Phone would have control of his kingdom again. Who knows? He might even be minded to run in the general election as a good democrat.

If so, as Yun Sun of the Stimson Centre in Washington writes (in the Irrawaddy, an online news organisation based in Thailand), he may have misjudged China’s priorities these days. The government is connecting south-west China with the Bay of Bengal via two oil-and-gas pipelines and other vast infrastructure projects in Myanmar. That country’s strategic importance, she says, “significantly outweighs China’s interest in the border ethnic groups”. In expecting sympathy from China, Mr Phone may be pushing his luck.

Đăng ký: Hoc tieng anh



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