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Myanmar rebels attack Chinese military convoy

A soldier of the Myanmar army (Photo: Xinhua/U Aung/IANS)

The Myanmarese junta government alleged on Saturday that insurgents from the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) attacked a convoy of Chinese military representatives and Myanmar counterparts in the Kachin state. Kachin, which lies to the north of Myanmar, borders both India and China.

Junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun said in an audio message: “We can confirm that (Kachin Independence Army, or KIA) members attacked the convoy”. According to Myanmar’s military government, the attack targeted the second vehicle in the convoy but no one was injured.

The Strait Times, however, reports that KIA member Colonel Naw Bu told AFP that the insurgent group did not attack any convoy. He added that there was heavy fighting in the area where the convoy was said to have been attacked.

The junta government said that the Chinese officials were traveling for a meeting on border security.

This is the second such incident in which Chinese interests have been targeted in the last two months. Myanmar, which has a strong anti-China undercurrent among the masses, has witnessed protests and violent demonstrations since its army – the Tatmadaw, threw out popular leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a Feburary 2021 coup.

Earlier in May, another insurgent group the Natogyi Guerrilla Force (NGF) had attacked Myanmarese soldiers guarding Chinese oil and gas pipelines in the Mandalay region. China’s oil and gas pipelines run from Kyaukphyu Port in Myanmar through the provinces of Mandalay and Namkham to enter Ruili in Yunnan province of China.

The attack on the Chinese gas and oil pipelines took place soon after Chinese Foreign Minister Yin Gang visited China-Myanmar border areas and then met with junta leader General Min Aung Hlaing on May 2. Yin also spoke about keeping vigil on the escalating violence in Myanmar spilling over to China.

Suspicion among the Myanmarese people runs deep as they look at Beijing as an accomplice to the military regime and allege that Chinese projects seek to usurp Myanmar’s natural resources and help the military remain in power. Beijing has been building transport infrastructure in Myanmar for facilitating jade mining and oil and gas projects in an effort to reach the Indian Ocean circumventing the ASEAN region.

Pro-democracy opposition parties in Myanmar, with support of various armed groups have set-up the People’s Defence Force (PDF) to offer armed opposition to the junta government. Besides attacking the Myanmar military, the PDF armed guerrillas also attack Chinese investments.

Also read: With China consolidating, India too needs to remain focused on Myanmar