This report analyzes different role of central authorities in Beijing and local institutions in Yunnan and how they interact with each other regarding the peace process and border security issues in Myanmar.
- Since the 2009 Kokang incident, when armed clashes between Myanmar’s Armed Forces, or Tatmadaw and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), an ethnic armed organization (EAO), led to a mass influx of refugees into Yunnan, Beijing has increased its attention towards China-Myanmar border affairs. Beijing’s appointment of a Special Envoy in 2013 is a direct channel for engagement with Myanmar based EAOs and has undermined the influence of Yunnan-based local authorities.
- Beijing’s engagement is largely limited to border security issues and Myanmar’s peace process, whereas local authorities operating at the provincial, prefecture and county level remain integral to the central government’s efforts at addressing other cross-border issues including trade, investment and transnational crime.
- The Chinese central government seems to recognize the sensitivity of local interests and the complexities of dealing with day to day border issues. Despite Beijing’s growing influence over border issues, local government officials in Yunnan remain part of China’s engagement with Myanmar. Thus, while Beijing has increased its influence over border issues in Yunnan, the central government does not disregard local interests and concerns in their policy decisions.
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