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China Urges Cease-Fire in Myanmar, While Conducting Own Drills

Shan state, Burma (Myanmar)
Shan state, Burma (Myanmar)

Beijing called for a cease-fire in Myanmar after a coalition of ethnic fighters seized several crossings along Myanmar’s border with China in the past month.

However, China will continue live-fire drills on its side of the frontier aimed at “testing the mobility, border control abilities and firepower capabilities of the military units so that the People’s Liberation Army is ready for any emergency,” the army newspaper PLA Daily said Sunday.

Myanmar heavily relies on trade with China, especially for importing manufactured goods and exporting agricultural products. Unrest in Myanmar's border region has been a constant irritant to China, which nevertheless backed the military leaders who seized power in the Southeast Asian nation in 2021 from an elected government.

Yet China is highly wary of conflicts spilling over the shared border that is already rife with drug trafficking and human smuggling. Cybercrime targeting Chinese victims has become a major concern, and China has pushed hard to eliminate the groups based in Myanmar and other countries and to send the perpetrators back to China for prosecution.

“China is highly concerned about the conflicts in Myanmar and has urged all sides to cease fire and start peaceful dialogues to prevent the situation from escalating further,” the PLA Daily said.

Meanwhile, the PLA will “safeguard border security and protect the lives and property of people living in the border areas.” The paper said the live-fire exercises that began Saturday will “boost the sense of responsibility and vigilance of the troops" and will continue for several days.

The Myanmar government has acknowledged losing at least three towns, and the fighting appears to have stopped almost all legal trade with China.

The Kyin-San-Kyawt border gate, one of the five major trading gates in Muse township in northern Shan state, was seized Saturday.

Muse hosts the 105-Mile Trade Zone and has the greatest volume of trade with China. It is the fourth border crossing seized by the alliance forces in a month of intense fighting.

Chinese police have reportedly fired tear gas to drive away people who were sheltering close to the border fence.