China strengthens border force amid clashes


MUSE — The Chinese military has sent reinforcements to the border town of Shweli following days of fighting between the Tatmadaw and ethnic armed groups in northern Shan State.

Dozens of Chinese military trucks carrying soldiers began arriving in Shweli on Saturday morning. More than 20 trucks were seen patrolling in Shweli, while more than 15 were seen stationary on the road between Shweli and Wanding, in China’s Yunnan province.

Residents of Shweli and Wanding said they had never seen such a large contingent of People’s Liberation Army soldiers in the towns.

The show of force is a response to heavy fighting just over the border, in the Muse, Kutkai, Panghseng and Mongkoe areas of northern Shan State.

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On November 20, soldiers from four ethnic armed groups—the Kachin Independence Army, Ta’ang National Liberation Army, Arakan Army and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army—launched a major offensive targeting military, police and economic sites close to the border. So far nine people have been killed and 29 injured, according to official figures.

The Chinese government said on November 22 that stray shells have fallen inside China, causing minor damage but no deaths.

On November 21, China’s Ministry of National Defence said in a statement that “China’s military is keeping high alert and taking necessary measures to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security and protect safety of lives and properties of the Chinese people inhabiting in the border area”.

Almost 2,500 people have crossed the border to escape the fighting and are being sheltered at Wanding. The Chinese government has said that altogether more than 3,000 people have been given sanctuary.

Most of those are from the Panghseng, a Myanmar town close to Wanding. Meanwhile, more than 2,000 people from Mongkoe are sheltering at Manhai, a small village between Mongkoe and the border with China.

At Wanding, a line of small Chinese flags has been erected apparently to demarcate the border, as there is no significant wall or fence between the two countries.

On November 25, Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing met China’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Liu Zhenmin and an official from its Central Military Commission, General Xufenlin.

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