Myanmar clashes drive more than 20k to seek refuge in China

A burnt car in Laukkai, which bore the brunt of clashes between ethnic groups and security forces. About 30 people were killed this week in an attack by ethnic Chinese insurgents as thousands escaped to China.
A burnt car in Laukkai, which bore the brunt of clashes between ethnic groups and security forces. About 30 people were killed this week in an attack by ethnic Chinese insurgents as thousands escaped to China.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING/YANGON • More than 20,000 people from Myanmar have flooded into border camps in neighbouring China, seeking refuge from bitter fighting between ethnic groups and security forces in the country's north, China said yesterday.

Thousands of people have crossed China's border in recent months to escape the conflict, which threatens Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi's top goal of reaching peace with minorities.

This week, about 30 people were killed in an attack by ethnic Chinese insurgents in Laukkai, the capital of Myanmar's restive region of Kokang, about 800km north-east of the country's commercial hub Yangon.

China is providing humanitarian assistance while taking steps to ensure peace and tranquillity in the border region, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.

He reiterated a call for all sides involved to "exercise restraint and immediately cease fire" to keep clashes from escalating.

"China supports Myanmar's peace process and hopes all sides can use peaceful means to resolve their differences via dialogue and consultation," Mr Geng told a regular news briefing.

Stray shells and bullets had fallen into China territory, injuring one Chinese person living there and causing some other damage, he added, but did not elaborate.

Few people remain in Laukkai, which bore the brunt of the assault, residents said, except for security forces patrolling its deserted streets and outlying areas.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2017, with the headline 'Myanmar clashes drive more than 20k to seek refuge in China'. Print Edition | Subscribe