06/01/2022, 14.46
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Pro-Beijing Wa Army calls for peace negotiations between military and opposition

The UWSA is the most powerful ethnic militia in Myanmar, a state within a state like Hezbollah in Lebanon. Wa forces did not join other armed groups to fight the ruling junta. They are often used by China as a means to put pressure on Myanmar’s military.

Yangon (AsiaNews) – The United Wa State Army (UWSA) yesterday urged Myanmar’s military junta to open negotiations with the armed opposition to the military coup of February 2021.

The call for talks by the powerful pro-China ethnic militia came at the end of discussions with the government of General Min Aung Hlaing in the capital Naypyidaw.

The appeal is also addressed to all ethnic armed groups and to the People’s Defence Forces fighting against the Myanmar Armed Forces (Tatmadaw).

The UWSA is a virtual state within a state, modelled on the Shia Hezbollah party in Lebanon. It controls two territorial enclaves, one bordering China and the other next to Thailand.

Out of some 20 ethnic militias fighting for territorial autonomy on Myanmar’s borders, the Wa are the most feared by the country’s military.

It can boast 25,000 soldiers, with one recruit from each family in the areas under its control, and it is armed with Chinese weapons and systems of its own production.

The Wa play a key role in the drug trade and exploiting Myanmar's natural resources.

Several observers consider them a key source of rare earths to China; the latter are precious minerals used in the most advanced electronic systems.

The Wa Army did not join other ethnic militias in opposing the junta after its coup. When democratically-elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi was ousted from power, some militias offered help and weapons to the People's Defence Forces.

Unlike the UWSA, an ethnic Chinese armed group launched attacks against Myanmar’s military. The Kokang army claims to have killed 100 government soldiers besieging their base in Mongko, Shan state in December.

The UWSA's "neutral" stance is most likely due to Chinese pressure. Beijing wants to preserve its economic interests in Myanmar and often uses the Wa to put pressure on the country’s military.

Beijing remains one of the few partners of the military junta, to the extent that Chinese authorities have never labelled the seizure of power by the military as a coup.

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