Knowing the ceasefire groups’ major concern is the border closure imposed by China, Burma’s military leaders are pushing the Laogai-based Kokang army to the limit until it sees no choice but to shoot thereby incurring the wrath of Burma’s giant neighbor, according to reports coming from the Sino-Burma border.
For example, says one, the Burmese military is crowding Kokang positions on the strategic mountain northeast of Qingxuehe (Chinshwehaw). While the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), as the Kokang Army prefers to be known, still occupies the higher peaks, lower peaks are being taken one by one by the Burma Army. “They stopped shoving us only when we told them we didn’t want them to stray into minefields surroundings our places,” a Kokang officer was quoted as saying.
China has reportedly warned both sides not to fire first. Accordingly, the Peace and Democracy Front (PDF), of which Kokang, Wa, Mongla and the New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDAK) are members, has long adopted at least two principles that they believe China would approve:
• Not to shoot first
• Not to secede from Burma
“Laogai is now a ghost town,” said a local, “because nine out of ten of its population has left.”
The current crisis that arose amid Naypyitaw’s demand that all the ceasefire armies transform themselves into Border Guard Forces is said have started when 3 of the top members informed earlier to Naypyitaw that their top leader Peng Jiahseng was involved in the production of drugs and arms.
The three had also accused Peng of favoring kinfolks over the others. The upshot of it was the demand by Naypyitaw to send on investigation team to Kokang and when the latter had tried to stall the move, the former arrived in the territory in force on 8 August which sparked the present stand-off.
Sources in Wa, so far left strictly alone by the junta since June, say attack on any member organization of the PDF will be regarded as one against the grouping and as such will retaliate accordingly.
The new constitution, drafted and approved by Naypyitaw, has promised both Wa and Kokang self-administrative status.
Kokang declared opium free in 2003 followed by Wa two years later. But both are still reported in drug-related news stories.