The Chinese government said on Monday it has allowed Myanmese fleeing renewed fighting in northern Myanmar near China to cross the border, urging both sides of the conflict between armed ethnic groups and government troops to cease hostilities.
The Chinese embassy to Myanmar issued a statement late on Sunday, saying some of the Myanmese who crossed to China were injured and taken to local hospitals for treatments.
It also said it was watching the situation closely and advised Chinese citizens in Myanmar to ensure their safety by avoiding the conflict zone where local minority militia had been exchanging fire with Myanmar official forces during the previous 36 hours.
The fighting in the China-Myanmar border area has killed at least two Myanmese civilians and wounded 25 others, Agence France-Presse reported. According to China’s state media reports, at least two people were also wounded in a neighbouring Chinese town by shells that fell across the border.
China’s defence ministry said the military was on high alert and would take the necessary measures to maintain security.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesmen Geng Shuang said on Sunday that Beijing is seriously concerned about the conflict and called on all parties to stop their military actions.
The embassy statement said some Myanmar residents in the border area fled to the Chinese territory to escape the fighting. For humanitarian reasons, the local Chinese government accepted those who crossed the border and sent any injured to hospitals for medical treatment, the embassy statement said.
The statement also told anyone who needed help to contact the embassy in Yangon, the old Myanmar capital city, or the consulate in Mandalay in the north of the Southeast Asian country.
Three ethnic armed groups launched simultaneous surprise attacks early on Sunday morning on military and police outposts in Muse and Kutkai, in the north of the country near the China-Myanmar border.
Since taking office in April, Myanmar’s state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and her administration have made the peace process a top priority. The 21st Century Panglong Conference, initiated by Suu Kyi in an aim to end the domestic ethnic conflict, ended in Naypyidaw about seven weeks earlier, and historically gathered leaders of all related parties in the conflict.
The outbreak of fighting on Sunday dashed the hopes raised at the conference, once more complicating the lingering problem.
After achieving independence in 1948, the jungle-dwelling Karen ethnic group in Myanmar became increasingly discontented with the newly formed post-independence government, as they believed that they were being unfairly excluded from governing the country.
Several groups have negotiated ceasefires and peace agreements with successive governments, but conflicts have continued.
Civil war has continued for decades in Myanmar’s mountain and border regions, with ethnic groups seeking greater autonomy from the military regime that is dominated by the Bamar – the country’s dominant ethnic group.