Yunnan police detain Chinese member of Myanmese rebel group
Recruit seized after he fled back to China with firearms and ammunition
A Chinese national who was recruited by an ethnic-Chinese rebel group in Myanmar has been seized by Yunnan police after he fled back to China.
The recruit, Wu Bo, fled the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and carried firearms and ammunition into the Chinese border prefecture of Lincang. He was detained by Lincang police, Shanghai-based news outlet Thepaper.cn reported on Tuesday.
The incident shows some Chinese have joined clashes between rebel groups and the Myanmese government in the country’s mountainous northern region.
The rebel group, also known as the Kokang Army, was one of the armed organisations involved in the outbreak of fighting with government forces on Myanmar’s border with China in November.
According to the United Nations, the conflict has caused up to 15,000 refugees to flee across the border into China, where they share cultural, historical and linguistic roots with local villagers.
China has been accused of tolerating or aiding rebels along its 2,200km border with Myanmar, but Beijing has publicly distanced itself from the conflict and sought to position itself as a mediator.
The Democratic Alliance Army, formed from remnants of the China-backed Communist Party of Burma that battled the Myanmese government until the party splintered in 1989, claims to be fighting for the ethnic-Chinese minority in Myanmar, with an estimated population of 150,000 in the Kokang region.
The group has used social media platforms to call for support, raise cash and collect donated supplies in China. Their high-profile activities online have thus far been tolerated by the Chinese censors and authorities.
Beijing has urged Myanmar to properly handle its domestic conflicts to prevent harming Chinese citizens on the border.
Last month, People’s Liberation Army Western Theatre Commander General Zhao Zongqi led a delegation to Myanmar, saying the conflict in northern Myanmar had hurt Chinese border citizens in Yunnan.
Zhao said Myanmar should tighten its border control, prevent stray bullets and maintain a peaceful border with China.