China makes formal complaint to Myanmar over bombing raids

Foreign ministry asks Myanmar to confine its military action against Kachin rebels to its own territory after air strikes on the Chinese side

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 January, 2013, 4:40am

China has made a diplomatic complaint to Myanmar after three bombs landed on its territory during air strikes on ethnic minority rebels in Kachin state, causing damage to one house.

"The Chinese side has launched representations with the Myanmar side requiring them to take effective and immediate measures to avoid the repetition of similar incidents," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular news briefing yesterday. She said there were no casualties from the bombs, which landed on a village in Yingjiang county, Yunnan , on Sunday night.

Residents of the border county said there had been bombing and air raids close to their homes every day in the past week as the Myanmese army struck rebel positions.

"My home is just 10 metres from a river that forms the border with Myanmar's Kachin state," a resident of the town of Nabang said.

"We have heard bombing and air raids in Kachin day and night since [December 28]."

He confirmed that no one had been injured on the Chinese side of the border, but that a house had been flattened by a bomb on Sunday night.

Another Nabang resident said villagers had seen two Myanmese military jets enter China's air space on December 28.

"It's been very common to see Myanmese military jets flying in our skies in the past week, but luckily they just came into our territory in the day time," the villager, who works for a Sino-Myanmese trading company, said. Nighttime air strikes took place in Kachin state, however.

"The air raids have caused thousands of Kachin refugees to escape to our town.

"Our trading business has been affected, with our more than 100 Myanmese staff being forced to cross the border every day before dusk to sleep in a guesthouse in Nabang to escape air raids at night."

The two villagers said the Myanmese refugees had caused no social unrest in Yingjiang county, although many had asked villagers for food.

The trading company employee said none of the refugees had engaged in stealing or robbery, but police patrols had been stepped up anyway since December 28.

The air attacks began the day after the Kachin Independence Army ignored an ultimatum to stop blocking an army supply route in the hilly, resource-rich northern state, where more than 50,000 people have been displaced.

Hua refused to be drawn on whether or not China would mediate between the two sides in an effort to end a conflict that has overshadowed wider political reforms in Myanmar.

"The issue concerning northern Myanmar is Myanmar's internal affair and we hope that the Myanmese government can appropriately deal with the issue through peaceful negotiation," she said.

Reuters, Agence France Presse