Kachin verses China

N.B Chyoi / February 28, 2022

Gold mining in Chipwi Township, eastern Kachin State

Kachins from northern Burma have been victims of Chinese economic exploitation since decades. Whether it is mining in Hpakant jade mine, banana mono-culture or teak smuggling. However, the leaders of Kachin Independence Organization KIO), the organization claimed to represent the Kachin people, have been silent over these issues.

The reasons are obvious that some of the KIO leadership are enjoying how their family members have been living as a privilege than the rest of the ordinary Kachin. Some KIO leaders are being offered Chinese scholarships and later migration to the west. They get world class medical treatments whereas a common Kachin ends up in the IDP camps with lack of medical assistance, and their kids join either as Kachin Independence Army (KIA) soldiers to die in conflicts or deployed as labourers in Chinese or Militia owned farms or factories. Some local NGOs like Kachin Development Network Group (KDNG) have been active in raising the concern of locals, but they have limited area and resources to operate with.

Many companies in the name of fishing are actually involved in gold mining around the Nmai Hka and Mali Hka rivers. These companies are owned by Kachin Militia leaders and so called Kachin Peace Talk Group, who have close ties with Junta appointed Kachin State Chief Minister Hkyet Hting Nan. The villagers have been raising concern about their land and agriculture but all in vain. KIO is least bothered about such issues, as they are busy in their own business ventures.

A number of trucks loaded with raw bananas are stationed outside the Laiza-Nabang check gate and seeking entry into China but Chinese authorities have denied entry and as a result Kachin farmers are incurring regular losses. It seems Chinese authorities and KIO have business interests. KIO leadership recently announced suspension of operations along the Sino-Burma border in view of Chinese New Year. This gesture clearly indicates KIO is more concerned about the welfare of China rather than their own Kachin brothers.

Most ordinary Kachins have been losing faith in the KIO as the real picture is getting clear now. It gives an impression that KIO is for elites not for common Kachin. The recent speech by KIO Chairman on eve of Kachin Revolution Day on Feb 05, 2022 was mainly focused on Burma’s parallel National Unity Government (NUG) affairs. It is the high-time that Kachins should evaluate and make KIO understand that it draws strength from Kachin, not China.

N.B Chyoi is a Kachin lawyer and geopolitical analyst focusing especially on Burma, China and India.

The opinion expressed here is the author’s own, and does not represent the editorial policy of The Kachin Post.