Fri 4 Jan 2013
Filed under: Military,News,Regional
China’s government is urging Myanmar to restore stability to the conflict-prone area near the border between the two countries after bombs fell in Chinese territory during Myanmar’s recent attack on rebel forces in Kachin state in the country’s north.
The spilling of the conflict into China is likely to heighten the international pressure on Myanmar to urgently restore peace to a region that has historically been a source of political and economic difference between the neighboring countries.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Friday that three bombs landed on the Chinese side of the border during clashes between Myanmar government forces and the Kachin Independence Army on New Year’s Eve.
There were no casualties, but China’s government has urged Myanmar, which has transitioned to a quasi-civilian government from a military dictatorship in 2010, to deal with the conflict through peaceful resolution.
“The Chinese side has launched representations … with Myanmar, requiring them to take the effective and immediate measures to avoid the repetition of similar incidents,” Ms. Hua said at a media briefing in Beijing.
The ministry didn’t provide further details about the incident, such as whether the ordnance was deployed from the air or the ground. The Kachin rebels have said that recent attacks on positions near their main town, Laiza, included airstrikes. Rebels said, however, the explosives that fell on Chinese territory were mortar rounds.
While the conflict in Myanmar’s northern regions was an “internal affair” for the country, Ms. Hua said China wants Myanmar to deal with the issue through “peaceful negotiation” to “maintain tranquility and stability of the border area.”
Both the U.S. State Department and United Nations have also voiced concern this week over the escalating conflict, and they have repeated calls to cease fighting and engage in dialogue.
China shares with Myanmar, also known as Burma, more than 2,000 kilometers of borderland along a stretch of the Southeast Asian country’s northern territory, where the Kachin Independence Army—the armed wing of the Kachin Independence Organization—has in recent days been battling the Myanmar government for control of territory.
Kachin State remains the last major batteground between Myanmar’s military and regionally centered ethnic armies that have fought in separate civil wars over many decades. Conflicts between the military and ethnic Shan, Wa and Karen armies in nearby states have mostly abated in recent years following cease-fire agreements.
Thousands of people have been displaced in Kachin since an earlier ceasefire between the government and rebels broke down in 2011.
The Myanmar government this week acknowledged using air strikes to take out positions held by rebels, who the government claims were blocking roads and military supply routes. Zaw Htay, an official with Myanmar President Thein Sein’s office, said that Myanmar’s foreign ministry was unaware of bombs hitting the Chinese territory and was checking into it.
A statement issued by the president’s office earlier Friday said peace negotiations between the government and the KIO and KIA would continue.