Three border gates in eastern Shan State have been closed due to security concerns, according a representative of the Shan State government.

“The closures are mainly related to security,” said U Min Aung, a representative of the Shan State government’s border gates supervision unit.

The gates were stopped operations on October 23. He added that the Chinese side had started the closures.

“The Mai Yu gate was closed from the Chinese side at around 2pm following with the Mai Lar gate. The Wang Tar Pin border gate was then closed shortly after,” U Min Aung said.

The Mai Lar area is controlled by the Wa, which operates a self-autonomous zone, and controls one of the largest standing non-state armies, the United Wa State Army.

The UWSA recently mobilised hundreds of troops in the neighbouring territory of its ally the Mongla. The Wa have said the deployment was part of a military exercise, while the Mongla’s National Democratic Alliance Army has characterised the move as unwanted, and has reportedly requested the UWSA withdraw.

U Min Aung said that Myanmar’s side of the border had not received any notice of intended closure of border checkpoints ahead of time.

Political analysts and the NDAA have raised fears about an escalation of conflict in the area between the UWSA and the Tamadaw.

According to local residents, the Wa and the Tatmadaw were positioned on opposite sides of a bridge near the Mai Yu checkpoint.

“We have not heard of any fighting at this time, but the gates may have been closed simply because of concerns,” said one local resident who asked not to be named.

Staff from the Department of Trade, Customs and Consumer Affairs have been relocated to other border posts, U Min Aung said.

The border gates are important trade routes for goods to and from China and Thailand.

Link: http://www.mmtimes.com/index.php/national-news/23296-border-gates-closed-amid-security-fears.html