Fri 30 Apr 2010
Filed under: On The Border
China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has recently deployed more troops along its southwestern border with Burma, where tension remains high between Burmese government forces and the ethnic Wa army over the ethnic group’s refusal to join the military junta’s border guard force (BGF).
Sources close to the Wa said more PLA troops had been deployed in areas bordering Wa strongholds controlled by the United Wa State Army (UWSA), which has at least 20,000 soldiers. China has also deployed air defense units, according to the sources.
“We estimate that five PLA brigades [some 5,000 troops] have been deployed,” said one border source.
In February, the PLA deployed an unknown number of soldiers in border towns close to the Wa areas where armed conflict is anticipated. Local people said they saw Chinese troops exercising every morning.
The deployment along the border comes after 37,000 ethnic Kokang and Chinese people took refuge on Chinese soil in August after Burmese government troops overran the Kokang capital of Laogai.
As former guerrillas of the Communist Party of Burma, the ethnic minority armies of the Wa, the Kokang and the Mongla-based National Democratic Alliance Army were trained by and have had long alliances with the PLA. Military analysts said that during the communist insurgency, ethnic fighters are believed to have fought alongside Chinese troops against the Burmese army.
As Naypyidaw pushes for acceptance of the BGF plan ahead of the general election later this year, leaders of the junta’s civic organization, the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), including Minister of Industry 1 Aung Thaung and Minister of Telecommunications, Post and Telegraphs Thein Zaw, met Christian Kachin leaders in the state capital of Myitkyina on Thursday afternoon.
During the meeting, USDA leaders expressed their wish that the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) accept the BGF terms, according to KIO sources in Laiza.
The last meeting between government negotiators and the KIO leadership was on April 22-23 when no agreement was concluded. However, the Burmese officials reportedly told the KIO to consider an alternative proposal—joining a “Union Defense Force.”
Amid the tension at the Sino-Burmese border, Burmese government troops have forcefully recruited local people in towns in northern Shan State and Kachin State for porter service. “A few days ago, men were arrested by troops to work as porters. Now people are scared to go out,” said a resident in Bhamo.
Meanwhile, a government army convey was ambushed by an unknown armed group in an area controlled by the Shan State Army- North in northern Shan State, according to the Shan Herald Agency for News.