Myanmar is preparing for a visit by US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton this week, which is seen as a sign that the previously reclusive nation may be starting to open up.
Yet it means little to those fighting for their basic rights in the north of the country. Al Jazeera obtained exclusive footage of the fighting.
Kachin Independence Army soldiers, who are trading fire with the Myanmar army, are dug into the sides of mountains as they defend their state and fight for autonomy and greater freedom for their people.
The predominantly Christian Kachin believe this is a fight for survival against a mainly Buddhist government and army.
The latest fighting erupted in June, ending a 17-year ceasefire. The Kachin allege government troops are using chemical weapons against them in a renewed push which has seen soldier numbers increased in the region.
Al Jazeera's Wayne Hays reports from Bangkok, in neighbouring Thailand