The Defense Ministry announced on Monday that China’s military will conduct land and air live-fire drills near a restive part of the Myanmar border where battles between the Myanmar government and ethnic Chinese rebels have been spilling over into Chinese territory and killing Chinese citizens.
Xinhua cited a senior PLA colonel who said that the drills will begin today and focus on testing military maneuvers, reconnaissance, strike power, mobilization and militia reserve support. Chinese authorities have informed the Myanmar government about the drills, though an end date has not yet been set.
Myanmar is battling an ethnic insurgency in the Kokang region of its northeastern Shan state. The local people of Kokang speak a Chinese dialect and the Chinese yuan is the common currency. The main rebel group in Kokang, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), is led by ethnic Chinese commander Peng Jiasheng. Myanmar’s parliament has declared a state of emergency in Kokang and extended martial law for the next two months.
The conflict has frequently spilled across the border, with shells and bombs from the fighting falling into Chinese territory. The most notable incident happened in March when the Myanmar Air Force dropped a bomb in a sugar cane field on the Chinese side of the border, killing five Chinese people and injuring eight others.
Chinese netizens quickly took to the web to voice their indignation, with one Weibo user @Cxsviva disparing “This brings so much humiliation to our country, we have such a powerless government.” Another named @城仔stzany asked “Is our national defense expenditure just being used to buy Maotai?”
The Chinese government quickly responded to the insults and the incident by dispatching fighter jets to patrol the border in a show of strength. Now, China looks to project its strength again by playing some war games, while also showing its softer side with Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying calling for peace and tranquility in the region.
by Alex Linder