Myanmar armed ethnic groups claim key northern town


Laukkai is the latest town to fall to the alliance alongside vital border hubs, damaging trade between China and Myanmar’s cash-strapped junta.

Leader Min Aung Hlaing made a name for himself in 2009 when, as a regional commander, he expelled the MNDAA from the town.

The military installed a militia that got rich producing drugs and selling a potent cocktail of gambling and sex to visitors from across the Chinese border.

While China is a major arms supplier and ally of the junta, relations have been strained in recent months over the junta’s failure to crack down on online scam operations that Beijing says target Chinese citizens.

On Saturday, state newspaper The Global New Light of Myanmar reported that Min Aung Hlaing had met with Chinese vice foreign minister Sun Weidong in the capital Naypyidaw.

The two “exchanged views on efforts to forge peace and stability in the border region between Myanmar and China”, it said.

The uptick in fighting near Laukkai prompted Beijing to ask citizens to leave the area last month.

Analysts say China maintains ties with ethnic armed groups in northern Myanmar, some of whom share close ethnic and cultural links with China and use Chinese currency and phone networks in the territory they control.

The alliance’s offensive has galvanised other opponents of the junta and clashes have spread to the east and the west of Myanmar.

More than half a million people have been forced to flee their homes, according to the United Nations.

Dozens of armed ethnic minority groups have battled Myanmar’s military since independence from Britain in 1948.

Some groups want greater autonomy while others simply want the right to run the lucrative trade in jade, drugs and timber in their territory.

This article was originally published by a . Read the Original article here. .