Tat­madaw pleads ig­no­rance as China claims cross-bor­der fire

The Myanmar Times - - News - YE MON LIL­LIAN KALISH news­room@mm­times.com

CHINA’S for­eign min­istry spokesper­son Geng Shuang con­firmed at a press con­fer­ence on Novem­ber 21 that “some stray bul­lets” from a re­cent of­fen­sive by four of Myan­mar’s eth­nic armed groups crossed the Ruili River into Chi­nese ter­ri­tory.

Chi­nese state me­dia has said its mil­i­tary is on “high alert” and that com­plaints have been lodged with the Myan­mar govern­ment af­ter a Chi­nese na­tional was in­jured by stray fire from across the bor­der on Novem­ber 20.

“We strongly hope that the war­ring par­ties can … re­frain from any­thing that may jeop­ar­dise China’s sovereignty and the life and prop­er­ties of bor­der res­i­dents,” said Mr Geng.

But Myan­mar’s Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs said yes­ter­day that the Chi­nese govern­ment had not yet sent a for­mal let­ter of ob­jec­tion re­gard­ing the fight­ing in north­ern Shan State, which shares a bor­der with China’s Yun­nan prov­ince.

U Kyaw Zeya, a spokesper­son for the min­istry, told The Myan­mar Times that Myan­mar’s mil­i­tary at­taché in Bei­jing met with the Chi­nese for­eign min­is­ter on Novem­ber 21 but that the at­taché had not yet re­ported back about the meet­ing.

“The two for­eign and de­fence min­istries will meet in Nay Pyi Taw on Novem­ber 25 for a two-plus-two meet­ing. But the fight­ing is­sue will be in­cluded in the meet­ing’s dis­cus­sion,” he said.

A Tat­madaw spokesper­son said he could not con­firm whether any bul­lets from the fight­ing had en­tered Chi­nese ter­ri­tory.

“We are al­ways an­nounc­ing in­for­ma­tion about the fight­ing and we can­not con­firm who fired the stray bul­lets into China,” said the spokesper­son, Ma­jor Gen­eral Aung Ye Win.

Clashes be­tween the mil­i­tary and four eth­nic armed groups first broke out in the early hours of Novem­ber 20 in Muse and Kutkai town­ships. At least 10 peo­ple have been killed so far, with the sit­u­a­tion still volatile and fight­ing on­go­ing.

Mai Aik Kyaw, a spokesper­son for one of the groups in­volved, the Ta’ang Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Army, said yes­ter­day that some of the fight­ing oc­curred very close to the bor­der in north­east Muse town­ship, rais­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of er­rant bul­lets en­ter­ing China.

“I don’t know whose stray bul­lets fell into China. It could be mil­i­tary or our al­lied groups. I can­not con­firm that,” he said.

Con­flict last year be­tween the Tat­madaw and the Myan­mar Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance Army (MNDAA) also spilled over into China, killing five Chi­nese farm­ers. The Tat­madaw ini­tially re­jected Bei­jing’s as­ser­tion that the ca­su­al­ties had been caused by a Myan­mar war­plane’s bomb, but later ad­mit­ted it was re­spon­si­ble for the men’s deaths.

The MNDAA was one of the four groups in­volved in the Novem­ber 20 of­fen­sive in north­ern Shan State.

‘I don’t know whose stray bul­lets fell into China. It could be mil­i­tary or our al­lied groups.’

Mai Aik Kyaw Ta’ang Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Army

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