Myanmar’s air force never entered Chinese territory and an “ethnic group” is responsible for a bomb that killed five farmers inside China, a government spokesman said.
“We checked with the military,” Zaw Htay, director of the office of President Thein Sein, “Based on the data and GPS, our planes did not enter Chinese territory. Ground data showed we did not enter China territory.”
People’s Liberation Army jets flew several sorties to monitor Myanmar military aircraft close to the border after the bombing on March 13, Colonel Shen Jinke, a spokesman, said in a statement Saturday. China also lodged a formal protest with Myanmar’s ambassador, Thit Linn Ohn, on Friday evening.
The bombing came amid an escalating conflict between Myanmar’s government and the Kokang people, an ethnic Chinese minority residing in the Southeast Asian nation’s northern Shan State. More than 60,000 Myanmar refugees have fled to neighboring Yunnan in China, where temporary shelters are provided by the local government, China Daily reported March 7 on Weibo.
“We are ready to cooperate to find out the truth,” Zaw Htay said. He blamed the attack on an unidentified “ethnic group” and said checking the remains of the weapons used would prove that it didn’t come from the Myanmar air force.
China’s ambassador to Myanmar Yang Houlan met the commander in chief of Myanmar’s army, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and Vice-President Sai Mauk Kham on Saturday to discuss the situation, Zaw Htay said.
“We have responsibility and the capacity to firmly safeguard stability in the border areas between the two countries and to protect the life and property of our people,” Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said yesterday in Beijing.
Fighting between the Myanmar military and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, a Kokang militia force, has been heating up since last month and dozens have been killed in clashes inside Myanmar. That government has since imposed martial law and declared a state of emergency in the area.
The Myanmar government has signaled that the militia’s leader Peng Jiasheng may have slipped into China and has called on the government in Beijing to arrest him and his followers and return them to Myanmar.
Myanmar’s government has ordered its armed forces to “maintain their operations within the territory of Myanmar” and to “respect the territorial integrity and the friendly relations between Myanmar and China,” according to a press release published in today’s state-run New Light of Myanmar.
The government said “we would like to express our deep sorrow for death and injuries of Chinese nationals” and added that the two sides are operating closely through diplomatic and military channels to maintain peace on their shared border.