Myanmar grapples with China’s ire amid rising anti-junta offensive


Generals from Myanmar’s junta held peace talks in June near the border with China with representatives of three powerful ethnic armies. They sat across a wide table covered with blue cloth and decorated with elaborate bouquets.
But the rebels were playing a double-game. Secretly, the ethnic armies – collectively called the Three Brotherhood Alliance – had already laid the groundwork for Operation 1027, a major offensive launched in October that has become the most significant threat to the regime since it seized power in a 2021 coup.

“We were already preparing for the operation when we met them,” said Kyaw Naing, a spokesman for the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), a largely ethnic-Chinese group that is part of the rebel coalition. Reuters interviewed a dozen resistance officials with knowledge of the operation, as well as analysts and other people familiar with the matter. Some spoke on condition of anonymity because the offensive is ongoing.

They disclosed previously unreported elements of the planning, including details of the formation of a unified battlefield brigade and the extent of China’s impatience toward the junta, which some analysts believe emboldened the militias.

Operation 1027, named after the date it began in late October, has delivered nationwide victories for the alliance and other groups fighting the military, which unseated Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian-led government in February 2021.

The junta cracked down on protests after the coup, sparking a grass roots rebellion and reigniting conflict with some ethnic armies. The military, known as the Tatmadaw, has ruled Myanmar for five of the past six decades, and its soldiers are feared for their brutality and scorched earth tactics. The army says tough measures are required to fight groups it considers “terrorists”.