China vows responsibility to safeguard border stability

By Jiang Jie Source:Global Times Published: 2015-3-16 1:08:01

Conflicts in northern Myanmar internal affair: foreign minister

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Sunday expressed his strong resolve to safeguard stability in the border areas with Myanmar, after a recent bomb dropped by a warplane from the conflict-hit country killed five Chinese people in Southwest China's Yunnan Province.

"We have the responsibility and ability to firmly safeguard stability in the border areas between the two countries and protect the life and property of our people," Li said at a press conference after the conclusion of China's annual legislative session on Sunday.

The bombing on Friday hit a sugar cane field in Lincang, a city near the Myanmar-China border. Aside from the five fatalities, eight other people who were working in the field were injured.

Myanmar denied that any bomb from its forces had fallen in China and said the rebels might have fired into China to create "misunderstanding." The rebels do not have aircraft, Reuters reported.

Myanmar government forces have been battling rebels on the border with China since early February. "It is necessary for China to clarify its bottom line with Myanmar that such border-crossing will not be tolerated and warn Myanmar that it should not take its chances [in a matter like this]," Xu Liping, a research fellow of Southeast Asian studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission Fan Changlong also vowed "firm and decisive action" to protect the safety of Chinese people while speaking with Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the Myanmar Defense Services, over the telephone on Saturday.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) air force has scrambled several squadrons of fighter jets since Friday to patrol the China-Myanmar border areas to "track, monitor, warn and chase away" Myanmar military planes flying close to China, according to air force spokesperson Shen Jinke.

"Myanmar's stability is crucial for China's scheme of the Silk Road Economic Belt and Maritime Silk Road as well as an initiative to build an economic corridor through Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar," Xu said.

Roughly half of the over 2,000-kilometer-long border is not in control of the Myanmar authorities and only four out of nine entry ports are in the hands of the government, according to a WeChat account under the People's Daily.

"As we demand a clear and timely investigation into the bombing, we should also reflect on our border control and defense mechanisms. The bombing did not come without early signs since the conflict in Myanmar has dragged on for weeks," Ruan Zongze, vice president of the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi on March 8 reiterated that the conflicts in northern Myanmar are the internal affairs of the country and that China, has made it clear that it respects Myanmar's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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