Countering Myanmar


Myanmar Air Force

Chinese media reported that air strikes conducted by the Myanmar Air Force, purportedly in their efforts to suppress ethnic Chinese Kokang rebels in the country’s northeast, mistakenly struck a sugarcane field across the border in China’s Yunnan province, killing four and wounding an additional nine. The incident represents the most serious cross-border escalation of Myanmar’s internal crisis and has drawn a sharp reaction from China, which warned Myanmar as early as March 10 to ensure that no bombs cross the border. On March 14, members of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army establishment chimed in with their views on the situation. As expected, senior PLA officials were outraged and expressed, in no uncertain terms, the need for Myanmar to treat this situation seriously. This has been causing panic towards people affected in the sudden attack of Myanmar.

General Fan Chanlong

General Fan Changlong, vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission (CMC), China’s apex military leadership body, told Min Aung Hlaing, the commander-in-chief of Myanmar’s armed forces, that the situation was entirely unacceptable and that Myanmar ought to “seriously control” its military. Fan additionally told the Burmese commander that such an incident could never be allowed to take place again. Beyond his condemnation of the Myanmar armed forces, Fan continued and issued a warning, noting that should Chinese civilians face harm as a result of Myanmar armed forces’ actions, the “Chinese military will take resolute measures to protect the safety of Chinese people and their assets.” The statement of General Changlong suggests that the PLA could move to make a military action against Myanmar. This is going to be difficult especially the longstanding relationship of Myanmar and China. The fighting in northeastern Myanmar is beginning to spiral out of control for China. For the past few weeks, over 30,000 Myanmar citizens, most ethnically Chinese, crossed the border into Yunnan, seeking refuge from the fighting. The Myanmar government has additionally accused China of providing covert intelligence and material assistance to the Kokang rebels — a charge China has vehemently denied. Recently, a Chinese general was sacked as part of Xi Jinping’s sweeping anti-corruption campaign in the military after he was accused of leaking state secrets to the Kokang rebels back in 2009.

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