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China 'Regrets' Protester Death at Myanmar Copper Mine

Villagers try to comfort a weeping woman, a relative of Khin Win, who was fatally shot Tuesday during a confrontation with a police and mine security guards at Letpadaung copper mine.

China on Wednesday expressed "concern and regret" at the death of a protester outside a Chinese-backed copper mine in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

On Monday, a woman was killed and 20 others were injured when police fired on protesters at the Letpadaung Taung copper mine.

The protesters object to the expansion of the mine. They say it is built on land unfairly taken from locals and could harm the environment.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Wednesday that Beijing hopes the dispute can be "properly handled as soon as possible."

"China's government has consistently required Chinese enterprises with investments abroad to respect other countries' laws and regulations, well exercise social responsibility and obligation, and place importance on protecting the environment," said Hua.

Myanmar Mine Protest
Myanmar Mine Protest

Wan Bao, the Chinese company that runs the copper mine, also expressed sympathy for the woman killed, saying her death was "senseless."

Despite the calls for calm, violence continued Tuesday, when at least two people were hurt in protests.

A local resident who wished not to be identified told VOA's Burmese service that protesters were met by an aggressive security force Tuesday.

“In the early morning, around 2,000 security forces and Wan Bao security guards attempt to fence off land for mining project, and local villagers want them to stop the attempt. Two villagers were seriously injured due to the shooting then,” said the local.

The U.S. State Department told VOA it is deeply concerned about reports of casualties during protests at the Letpadaung Taung Copper Mine.

The department said it has urged all parties to exercise restraint, and it called on Burmese authorities to conduct an “expeditious and transparent investigation” into the violence.

The executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, Brad Adams, told VOA the Burmese government needs to allow an independent investigation into the woman’s death and hold those responsible accountable.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Burmese service.