Thousands Flood into China after Myanmar Army Standoff

Reuters reports on the mass exodus of refugees escaping violent conflict between ethnic groups and government troops:

Large groups crossed the border on Tuesday from Kokang in Myanmar’s Shan State, said a Reuters witness in Nansan, a town in China’s southern Yunnan province. About 10,000 people have fled Kokang since August 8, China’s Chongqing Evening News reported.

The Washington-based U.S. Campaign for Burma said tensions first flared on August 8 when the Myanmar army deployed hundreds of troops in Kokang, a mostly ethnic Chinese region where rebels have observed a two-decade-old ceasefire with the government.

The rebels issued a statement via the Myanmar Peace and Democracy Front (MPDF), a newly formed alliance of four ethnic groups, saying the army was pressuring its fighters to join a border security force under the government’s control ahead of Myanmar’s elections planned for 2010.

“Tensions are extremely high,” the MPDF said in the statement issued via the U.S. Campaign for Burma. “With anticipation of resurgence of war, tens of thousands of ethnic people have fled.”

See also “Myanmar conflict puts China in dilemma” from Global Times.

Meanwhile, a Burmese activist and recipient of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay award has accused China of ignoring rampant corruption by the ruling junta in his country, AP reports:

Corruption in Myanmar should be dealt with urgently, since most people struggle to afford three meals a day, Ka Hsaw Wa said. But obtaining evidence is almost impossible, he said.

“It’s simply economic plunder,” Ka Hsaw Wa said, adding that “99.9 percent of the ruling junta, from a normal soldier to the top generals, are completely corrupt.”

He said corruption within the military should be apparent to friendly foreign governments like China, but they look the other way.

“We won’t turn a blind eye to that (corruption), of course,” said Ethan Sun, a spokesman at the Chinese Embassy in Manila. He added, however, that trade and economic cooperation “benefit the peoples of both countries.”

China has often supported the junta against international pressure in the past.

See also from Reuters: “Q+A-China’s complex relationship with Myanmar” and a report on the refugees’ exodus from the New York Times.

August 27, 2009 9:32 PM
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