China to Hold Live-Fire Military Drill Near Myanmar Border

Updated on

China’s military will begin live-fire ammunition drills Tuesday on its Myanmar frontier, the same area where China recently complained of shells drifting over the border and injuring residents.

The exercises will be held in two counties in the southwestern province of Yunnan and aircraft will be banned from entering local airspace, the Chinese Ministry of National Defense said Monday in a statement on its website. Zhenkang and Gengma counties have both reported civilian casualties in recent months as the Myanmar government battles ethnic Chinese rebels in the neighboring Shan state.

Myanmar issued an official apology following a March 13 bombing that killed at least five farmers in Chinese territory, acknowledging that its air force was responsible for the incident. Last month, China called for an investigation after Myanmar defense officials denied their forces fired shells that injured another five people on the Chinese side of the border.

The incidents come amid a conflict between Myanmar’s government and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance, made up of members of the Kokang ethnic minority. The group is an offshoot of the Communist Party of Burma, and some rebels are thought to have fled to China after a 2009 government assault broke a two-decade-old cease-fire.

China stepped up fighter jet patrols of the border after the March bombing. The country has notified Myanmar about the upcoming live-fire drills, according to the Defense Ministry’s statement.