Thursday, April 24, 2014
Myanmar conflict delays China flights
Global Times | January 11, 2013 00:38
By Chang Meng
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Flights to Tengchong airport, Yunnan Province, were back on schedule Thursday after several to the county near the border with Myanmar were delayed on Wednesday due to air traffic control concerns over the ongoing military conflict in the neighboring country.

Meanwhile, tensions between the Myanmar military and the Kachin Independent Army (KIA), the armed force of northern Myanmar's ethnic minority, remained high. Chinese border defenses have been upgraded in the county, which shares a 148-kilometer-long contiguous border with Myanmar.

Flight MU5839 from Kunming, the provincial capital to Tengchong, operated by China Eastern Airlines, took off as scheduled at noon Wednesday but was called back. Staff at the Kunming Changshui International Airport told waiting passengers that the flight was delayed because concerns over military operations across the border, reported the Changjiang Daily Thursday. The People's Daily reported Thursday that it was unclear why the flight was ordered to return.

The flight was later cleared and arrived in Tengchong safely at 4:40 pm.

Another flight - MU5740 - between the two destinations was canceled earlier Thursday due to what the airline said was a "change of plans."

China Eastern could not be reached for comment as of press time.

The Global Times checked with airports in Tengchong and Kunming and found that flights were operating as scheduled Thursday.

A local resident in Tengchong told the Global Times that the Myanmar military has been conducting air strikes and ground attacks since Saturday in the Laisa area in the rebellious state of Kachin, where the KIA is headquartered.

Two members of the KIA were also posting conflict updates in Chinese from their side, the Wuhan-based Changjiang Daily reported.

"Wednesday night's attack on Myanmar military's artillery was successful," wrote one of the rebels, adding that recent military action was being hampered by heavy fog.

The county is a key tourist area.

Jia Shuyi, a consultant with the Kunming China International Travel Service, told the Global Times that the agency received a notice Thursday about the unstable situation near the border. "We are helping our customers postpone their visit to ensure their safety and will keep them posted on the situation there."

Another staffer surnamed Zhao from the local Tengchong Huangpu travel agency told the Global Times that the county is safe, but their border tour has been canceled since June last year. 

Sun Konglong, head of the local border stability maintenance office, told the Global Times that social order had not been disturbed and that emergency plans were in place.

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