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South Asia

Myanmar Rebel Forces Capture Key Trade Routes With China

The Brotherhood Alliance is a tripartite military alliance comprising the Arakan Army, Ta’an National Liberation Army and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, which has taken control of important towns on the route.

New Delhi: The Brotherhood Alliance, a group of Myanmarese rebel forces, have captured strategic towns in the northern Shan and Mandalay regions and have succeeded in taking control of all the key trade routes between Myanmar and China.

As per an October 30 report on The Irawaddy, “All trade routes with China, including the busiest border checkpoint in Muse, are now reportedly under Brotherhood Alliance control and currently closed due to ongoing fighting. Chin Shwe Haw, a trading town that borders China, also fell to the insurgents.”

The Brotherhood Alliance is a tripartite military alliance comprising the Arakan Army, Ta’an National Liberation Army and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army. Their respective armies have come together to launch simultaneous attacks, “striking (Myanmarese military) regime targets and bases in several towns in the northern Shan state”.

The news report stated, “Analysts say the offensive surprised the regime, catching its military off guard. The military command in Naypyitaw failed to provide intelligence on the launch of the attacks, though they had prior warning that an operation was afoot.”

As per the report, the Alliance succeeded in capturing areas like Kutkai, Muse, Lashio, Namkham, Nawnghkio and Chin Shwe Haw in the northern Shan state and the ruby mining area of Mogoke in the upper Mandalay region. 

The operation also blocked lucrative trade routes between China and Myanmar – the Lashio-Muse Highway and Lashio-Chin Shwe Haw Road – to prevent regime reinforcements from using them.”

It also added, “All trade routes with China, including the busiest border checkpoint in Muse, are now reportedly under Brotherhood Alliance control and currently closed due to ongoing fighting. Chin Shwe Haw, a trading town that borders China, also fell to the insurgents.”

Myanmar shares a 2,129-kilometre long border with China. In the last three and a half decades, Myanmar has developed a particularly strong business relation with China. According to Myanmar’s Ministry of Commerce, the bilateral trade between the two countries from April 2022 to the middle of January 2023 had touched $ 159.412 million. 

While the dynamic relations between the two have witnessed several ups and downs in the past owing to the wariness of Myanmar authorities towards Chinese intent – be it weaponising ethnic groups, debt scares, or, unsustainable projects – the relationship has always maintained its strong course despite all odds. One significant factor in this is the steady economic ties that have grown in importance over the past two decades,” said a report in the Observer Research Foundation (ORF).