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China security minister in Myanmar following border clashes

China’s Public Security Minister discussed border peace and security with Myanmar’s junta amid clashes between ethnic groups and the military. Thousands have been displaced, raising concerns for both nations.

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YANGON, MYANMAR — China’s public security minister has held talks with Myanmar’s junta on establishing peace along their shared border, state media said Tuesday, following clashes between ethnic armed groups and the military in Myanmar.

Thousands of people have been reportedly displaced, with some crossing into China, after three armed groups fighting for autonomy launched coordinated attacks on the junta seeking to take control of towns.

Wang Xiaohong, who is also a member of China’s cabinet, the State Council, met the junta’s home minister Lieutenant-General Yar Pyae in the capital Naypyidaw, the Global New Light of Myanmar reported.

The two “discussed peace and tranquillity in border areas of the two countries” and cooperation on law enforcement and security, it said, without giving details.

Since Friday fighting has raged across a swathe of Myanmar’s northern Shan state — where a billion-dollar rail link is planned as part of Beijing’s Belt and Road global infrastructure project.

The Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the Arakan Army (AA) and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) said they had seized several military posts and key roads.

The three groups — which analysts say can call on at least 15,000 fighters between them — have fought regularly with the military over autonomy and control of resources.

On Monday the MNDAA released footage it said showed its fighters occupying the border town of Chinshwehaw.

The junta has said military outposts in at least 10 locations in Shan have come under attack since Friday.

The United Nations has said it fears over 6,200 people have been displaced by the fighting, including 600 who have fled across the Chinese border.

China is a top ally and major arms supplier of the junta, and has refused to label its 2021 power grab a coup.

China’s envoy for the country has met regularly with their leadership in recent months and during the Covid pandemic provided vaccines and aid to territory that the groups control.

But, analysts say, China also backs and arms several groups along its border with Myanmar, home to ethnic Chinese communities who use Chinese SIM cards and currency.

Beijing is also angered by a mushrooming of online scam centres in Myanmar’s northern reaches that it says target Chinese citizens.

Myriad ethnic armed groups operate in Myanmar’s frontier areas and have for decades clashed with the government.

Since the military seized power, several of the groups have allied with People’s Defence Forces that have sprung up to battle the junta.

— AFP

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