Beijing sent forces to patrol its southwestern border with Myanmar after a bomb killed four Chinese citizens in an area where violence between Burmese rebel groups and troops has spread and strained ties with China.
On Sunday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang expressed Beijing’s dismay at the fighting that has sent hundreds fleeing across China’s border. Mr. Li called Friday’s bombing “deeply distressing” and said China would take measures to ensure the safety of Chinese citizens living near the area.
“We have the responsibility and the capacity to firmly safeguard stability in the border areas between the two countries and protect the life and property of our people,” Mr. Li said during a nationally televised news conference.
A Myanmar official from the president’s office said over the weekend that Myanmar’s armed forces weren’t responsible for the bomb and blamed the rebels in the country’s Kokang zone.
The official, Zaw Htay, offered to jointly investigate the bombing and said members of Myanmar’s military and Ministry of Foreign Affairs plan to meet their Chinese counterparts in the coming days.
The bombing and border fighting adds strain to an already rocky relationship. Chinese firms are active investors in Myanmar, from mining to real estate; a pipeline carries oil and natural gas from the Indian Ocean across Myanmar to China’s landlocked Yunnan province. But the outsize Chinese presence has also created a backlash with protests against some Chinese projects.
Friday’s bomb, which Chinese state media said landed in a sugar cane field, also injured nine Chinese. In response, China ordered its air force to patrol the border and “track, monitor, warn and chase away” Myanmar military aircraft, the state-controlled news agency, Xinhua reported.
One of Beijing’s top military commanders, Gen. Fan Changlong, also called for an investigation and punishment of those responsible during a phone call with Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the Myanmar Defense Services, Xinhua reported. Chinese foreign ministry officials also lodged protests with Myanmar officials in Beijing and in Yangon.
Complicating the issue for Beijing, the Kokang area in Myanmar’s north is populated predominantly by ethnic Chinese who immigrated to the area over the past few centuries.
Premier Li’s remarks Sunday drew applause from the several hundred Chinese reporters and officials at the news conference in the Great Hall of the People.
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- Reports: Myanmar warplanes kill 4 in China (wyff4.com)
- Myanmar warplane kills four in China’s Yunnan province: Xinhua (thanhniennews.com)
- Myanmar warplane kills four in China’s Yunnan province: Xinhua (channelnewsasia.com)
- Myanmar Bomb Kills Four Chinese (wsj.com)
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