Top Myanmar general in China for official visit: junta

The military council’s second highest-ranking official is reportedly attending a “Green Development Forum” in China two weeks after the breakdown of a Chinese-mediated ceasefire between the Myanmar military and anti-regime forces

The Myanmar junta’s second-in-command arrived in China on Saturday for an official visit, the junta’s information team said, as clashes with ethnic minority fighters raged in the north of the country despite a Beijing-brokered ceasefire.

Vice Sen-Gen Soe Win arrived in Qingdao in Shandong province where he will attend a “Green Development Forum” hosted by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the junta’s information office said in a statement.

Ties between the junta and Beijing—a major ally and arms supplier—frayed last year over the junta’s failure to crack down on online scam compounds in Myanmar’s borderlands.

The compounds were staffed by citizens of China and other countries who were often trafficked and forced to work swindling their compatriots in an industry analysts say is worth billions.

Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing has not visited China since the 2021 coup that plunged the country into turmoil.

The Southeast Asian nation has seen widespread fighting since the military coup ended democratic rule.

Soe Win’s visit comes following more than a week of fighting in northern Shan State between the military and an ethnic minority armed group that has shattered a ceasefire brokered by China in January.

On Saturday the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) told AFP its fighters were “surrounding” the town of Lashio, home to a regional military command.

Lashio sits on a major highway that runs from Myanmar’s second largest city of Mandalay to China’s Yunnan Province.

Myanmar is a vital piece of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, President Xi Jinping’s flagship US $1 trillion project that includes maritime, rail, and road projects in Asia, Africa, and Europe.

But progress in Myanmar has been hampered by the conflict since the military seized power in 2021, sparking widespread armed resistance to its rule.

Last week former general turned president Thein Sein visited China, where he met with President Xi.

Thein Sein ruled Myanmar from 2011 to 2016 as the reformist president of a quasi-civilian government which ceded power to Aung San Suu Kyi following landmark elections.

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