Both sides agree to cease fighting and not harm residents along Myanmar’s northern border with China.
Myanmar’s military government and an alliance of ethnic armed groups have agreed to an immediate ceasefire following peace talks brokered by China.
“China hopes the relevant parties in Myanmar can conscientiously implement the agreement, exercise maximum restraint toward each other and solve the issues through dialogue and consultations,” China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said on Friday.
Both sides held talks on Wednesday and Thursday in Kunming, a Chinese provincial capital about 400km (250 miles) from the border with Myanmar, Mao said, adding that they also pledged not to harm residents at the Chinese border.
Myanmar’s military, which overthrew an elected government almost three years ago, has been battling an alliance of ethnic minority armies fighting to end its control of their regions since late October, with intense violence along the northern border with China.
A leader of one of the rebel groups, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), also confirmed that a ceasefire had been reached, adding that the talks involved an envoy from China.
The clashes in northern Shan state posed the biggest battlefield challenge to the military since the coup and caused concern in China about the prospect of border trade disruptions and a refugee influx.
In talks facilitated by Chinese envoy Deng Xi Jin, the Three Brotherhood Alliance – which launched the Operation 1027 offensive against the military – agreed to “cease fire without advancing further,” the TNLA leader, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the talks, told the Reuters news agency.
“From the (alliance) side, the agreement is to refrain from offensive attacks on enemy camps or towns. From the military side, the agreement is not to engage in attacks through air strikes, bombardment, or heavy weapons.”
Myanmar’s military, and the two other groups in the alliance – the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and the Arakan Army (AA) – have yet to comment on the development.
Beijing had also said last month the parties had agreed on a temporary truce and to maintain dialogue.
However fighting continued in northern Shan state and other regions in the country, with the rebels taking control of a key commercial town, Laukkai, on the Chinese border last week.
The United Nations says it fears thousands of people have been displaced by the fighting with some fleeing across the border into China.
Myanmar has been plunged into crisis after the military removed the government of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021. Within months, the military’s lethal crackdown on nonviolent protests had sparked an armed uprising that has since grown to an unprecedented scale.
According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), which has been monitoring the crackdown, more than 25,730 people have been arrested for opposing the coup, and almost 20,000 are still in detention.