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China Urges Burma to End Conflict in Border Area

China has called on Burma to end combat operations in a border area that has sent thousands of people fleeing into China this month.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu Friday said Beijing hopes Burmese authorities can "properly deal" with domestic issues to protect the border area and safeguard regional stability.

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) in Geneva expressed concern about reports that between 10,000 and 30,000 refugees have fled Burma's northeastern Shan state into China's southern province of Yunnan.

Civilians are fleeing the area to avoid getting caught in the fighting between the government troops and a rebel group.

Andrej Mahecic, a spokesman for the U.N., commended Yunan authorities for aiding refugees and expressed the agency's readiness to provide support.

Yu Chunyan, a spokesman for the Yunnan provincial government, told China's Global Times that refugees in the southwestern Yunnan border town of Nansan are receiving emergency aid. But it is not clear if local authorities have enough supplies to help so many people.

Most of the refugees are members of the Burmese ethnic Chinese minority in Kokang.

The U.S. Campaign for Burma says the exodus began earlier this month after the Burmese army deployed troops to the Kokang region. It says on August 8, a soldier raided the home of Kokang leader Phon Kyar Shin, also known as Peng Jiashen, ostensibly to look for illegal drugs.

Phon heads the Myanmar Democratic Alliance, a local militia group that has had a long-term cease-fire agreement with the Burmese military. His group offered resistance, sparking fears of renewed violence.

The government has signed cease-fire agreements with several ethnic militias, but relations between authorities and armed ethnic groups have been volatile.

Burma is home to more than 100 ethnic groups.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.