Tatmadaw pleads ignorance as China claims cross-border fire
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