Dozens flee Myanmar battles


Glass window hit by bullet in Monepaw town near Muse’s 105th Mile Trade Center in northern Shan State on Sunday morning. Photo: Local people

Hoards of Myanmar refugees gathered at the China-Myanmar border on Sunday as armed conflicts erupted in Northern Myanmar.

Conflicts between Myanmar government troops and armed ethnic groups started around 3 am Sunday local time in several areas, including Mongkoe and Muse, causing military and civilian casualties, local media reported.  

A press release on Sunday afternoon from the State Counsellor’s Office of Myanmar said the over 600-strong joint groups included the Kachin Independence Army, Ta-ang National Liberation Army and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), the Xinhua News Agency reported. 

The armed groups cut off the government troops' support line and occupied several important strongholds, and more intensive fighting is yet to come, CCTV said.

Stray bullets have fallen in China, an anonymous source on the border told the Global Times on Sunday. China shares a border of over 2,000 kilometres with Myanmar. The sound of artillery can be heard in Wanding, a small town in Southwest China's Yunnan Province, said the source. 

Moreover, some 80 refugees appeared in Wanding on Sunday morning and were received by the Chinese government, which is properly dealing with the increasing number of refugees while trying to maintain order, the source added. 

The wounded Myanmar residents were sent to Chinese hospitals, a businessman surnamed Yin told the Global Times on Sunday. 

In 2015 some 60,000 Myanmar residents fled across the border following Northern Myanmar's Kokang conflicts and more than 10,000 were temporarily resettled in the city of Lincang, Yunnan Province. 

A peaceful Myanmar will not only benefit Myanmar and its people, the Sino-Myanmarese trade will also profit from it, Zhuang Guotu, head of the Center of Southeast Asian Studies at Xiamen University, told the Global Times.

Yin said the conflict has exerted a huge impact on trade between China and Myanmar.

"China has invested in planting fruits in Myanmar and it's time to harvest. If the conflict continues, these fruits won't be able to be imported to China, which will cause great loss," said Yin. 

Myanmar is also a key part of China's Belt and Road initiative. "A chaotic Myanmar will be disruptive to the whole project," said Zhuang. 

Northern Myanmar is home to varied ethnic armed forces including the MNDAA in Kokang, with nearly 50,000 fighters in total. 

China has repeatedly demanded that Myanmar take greater steps to deter the ongoing conflicts in the country from spilling over into Chinese territory. In March 2015, five Chinese were killed when a Myanmar warplane bombed a sugarcane field in Lincang, Yunnan province. In May the same year, two shells fired from Myanmar injured five more people in Lincang, including a Chinese national and four from Myanmar.

Courtesy Global Times

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