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Myanmar's EOA Refuse Peace Negotiations and Japan's Foreign Minister Visits Solomon Islands

Updated: May 20

April 21-27, 2022 | Issue 4 - PACOM

Francesca Cavazzuti, Sofia Pantoula, Elizabeth Leoce, PACOM Team

Léopold Maisonny, Editor; Demetrios Giannakaris, Senior Editor


Myanmar’s Senior General Min Aung Hlaing[1]


Date: April 25, 2022

Location: Myanmar

Parties involved: Myanmar’s Junta; Myanmar’s Senior General Min Aung Hlaing; Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs); Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP); People’s Defense Forces (PDFs); Association of National Unity Government (NUG); Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

The event: The leaders of Myanmar’s EAOs, including the KNPP in Kayah State, rejected Senior General Min Aung Hlaing’s offer to meet to end the conflict in the country’s border regions, Kayah State and Karen State. The peace talks’ offer excluded the ousted government and the pro-democracy opposition-led ​​PDFs. The armed ethnic groups stated that the junta must halt the clashes and withdraw the troops before talks could take place and that Hlaing’s invitation was a public admission that the Myanmar army was losing the war.[2] The army is suffering due to increasing casualties and defections, as well as being engaged on multiple fronts simultaneously.[3] Since the military seized power on February 1, 2021, ethnic groups have opposed the junta led by Hlaing.[4] The military junta failed to implement the “five-point consensus,” an agreement reached between the ASEAN and Hlaing in April 2021 to halt the violence in Myanmar.[5]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Hlaing likely offered a dialogue to contain the dispersion of Myanmar’s army on multiple fronts and minimize military losses. The ethnic rebel groups are unlikely to compromise and will likely continue to use guerrilla tactics, likely targeting military bases and outposts. The government will likely respond by intensifying airstrikes in rebel-controlled regions, likely enabling government forces to cover larger areas and minimize losses. There is a roughly even chance that airstrikes will also destabilize rebel groups, preventing them from finding cover and obtaining supplies.

  • The ASEAN will very likely attempt to broker peace talks between the military junta, the PDFs, and NUG. It is unlikely that the military junta will compromise unless ASEAN countries exert economic pressures, such as imposing sanctions on Myanmar. There is a roughly even chance that ASEAN countries will consider exerting economic pressures on the military junta to implement the five-point consensus.

Date: April 25, 2022

Location: Solomon Islands

Parties involved: Japan’s Vice Foreign Minister Kentaro Uesugi; Chinese government; Solomon Islands’ government; US government; Philippines’ government; Australian government.

The event: Japan’s Vice Foreign Minister Kentaro Uesugi visited the Solomon Islands to discuss the security agreement signed with China on April 19.[6] According to the deal, Chinese warships can stop in the Solomon Islands for replenishment, and China can send police and armed forces to assist with ensuring social order. Neighboring countries and Western allies fear that the agreement could increase Chinese military buildup in the Asia-Pacific. The US has warned that it would take unspecified action against the Solomon Islands if the security agreement threatens the US or its partners’ interests.[7] China is conducting military and coast guard activity in the East China Sea near the Senkaku islands, which China and Japan claim.[8] China is also arming the artificial islands built in the South China Sea.[9]

Analysis & Implications:

  • China will likely invest in the construction and expansion of a new port in the Solomon Islands to ease the replenishment of its warships. China will likely send trained military and technical personnel for the warships’ maintenance and build new compounds to house its police and armed forces to assist in maintaining social order within the country. The US and its regional allies, like Japan and Australia, will very likely perceive China’s actions as an attempt to expand its military presence. They will very likely insist on the Solomon Islands’ adherence to the agreement while increasing their sea patrols to monitor China’s activities.

  • Given China’s increasing military activities in the East and the South China Sea, China will likely attempt to militarize the Solomon Islands to expand its military presence in the South Pacific. The increased number of military outposts in the Asia-Pacific region will very likely allow China to closely monitor the activities of neighboring countries, like the Philippines, Japan, and Australia, and conduct military exercises in the region.

  • If the agreement threatens the interests of neighboring countries, like Japan and Australia, there is a roughly even chance that the US and its regional allies will interrupt their diplomatic and trade relations with the Solomon Islands in response. This will likely result in negative economic consequences and social unrest likely enabling China to send security personnel to the country, further exacerbating diplomatic relations with the US and its allies.

 

The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)


[1]Min Aung Hlaing in June 2017” by mil.ru licensed under Creative Commons

[2] Ethnic Armed Groups Reject Myanmar Junta Chief’s Peace Talks, The Irrawaddy, April 2022, https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/ethnic-armed-groups-reject-myanmar-junta-chiefs-peace-talks.html

[3] Myanmar junta ‘rapidly losing strength,’ but rights abuses continue, U.N. rapporteur says, Japan Times, April 25, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2022/04/25/asia-pacific/tom-andrews-myanmar-interview/

[4] World Report 2022: Myanmar | Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Watch, https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2022/country-chapters/myanmar-burma

[5] Factbox: ASEAN's five-point peace agreement on the crisis in Myanmar, Reuters, February 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/aseans-five-point-peace-agreement-crisis-myanmar-2022-02-17/

[6] Japan to send envoy to Solomons amid worry over China pact, AP News, April 2022 https://apnews.com/article/china-japan-asia-tokyo-beijing-f1cbe09a7fea347c412dd18568241671

[7] US warns Solomon Islands of action over pact with China, AP News, April 2022 https://apnews.com/article/china-asia-new-zealand-east-solomon-islands-1690c75750dfb6b1a7a071fbaa14adf4

[8] Japan to send envoy to Solomons amid worry over China pact, AP News, April 2022 https://apnews.com/article/china-japan-asia-tokyo-beijing-f1cbe09a7fea347c412dd18568241671

[9] China says military development of islands within its rights, AP News, March 2022 https://apnews.com/article/china-beijing-international-law-south-china-sea-4370828e295d2eec9a4804bba9940273


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