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China’s military plans more drills near Myanmar border
Published on: Wednesday, April 17, 2024
By: Reuters, FMT
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China’s military plans more drills near Myanmar border
Fighting between Myanmar’s ruling junta and rebel forces has intensified in the last week (Reuters pic).
BEIJING: China will hold air defence and live-fire drills near its border with Myanmar from Wednesday, state media said, in this month’s second round of such exercises as fighting between Myanmar’s ruling junta and rebel forces intensifies.

The drills follow a significant escalation of the conflict last week, when rebel forces captured the Myanmar town of Myawaddy, a key trading outpost near the Thai border, prompting a stream of refugees into Thailand.

State broadcaster CCTV said this week’s drills, by China’s Southern Theater Command, formed part of an annual training exercise, without referring to the fighting in the neighbouring nation.

China’s troops are always prepared to respond to emergencies and will “resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, border stability and the safety of people’s lives and property”, it added.

Myanmar’s military-run government has battled insurgencies on several fronts since overthrowing an elected government in 2021, but defeats in frontier areas since last October have lost it control of tracts bordering Bangladesh, China and India.

Concerned about trade disruptions and an influx of refugees,

China has acted as a mediator in the conflict, which has sent hundreds of thousands fleeing across the border.

But Myanmar’s northern border with China had been relatively calm since ceasefire talks that Beijing brokered in January.

This month’s earlier land and air drills at the Myanmar border also featured no mention of direct links to the conflict in the neighbour’s north.

In January, China called for an immediate ceasefire when five people were hurt in its southwestern province of Yunnan after an artillery shell crossed from Myanmar.

At the time of a live-fire exercise last November, China’s military said armed conflicts in Myanmar had led to casualties and complicated the security situation, adding that it had a responsibility to protect lives and property in border areas.

“It is the responsibility of the (People’s Liberation Army) to safeguard border security,” it added on its website at the time of the drill, which did not involve air force units.

Security warnings by the Chinese embassy in November and December urged citizens to evacuate the key commercial town of Laukkai in Myanmar’s long-restive Kokang region in Shan state.

In 2015, shells from the area landed across the border in Yunnan amid battles between Myanmar government troops and rebels, some just 500m from the border.

In 2009, clashes in the area drove tens of thousands to flee across the border into China, state media and rights groups have said.

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