China to conduct live-fire drills near Myanmar border: Xinhua

BEIJING (AFP) - The Chinese military will hold a live-fire exercise near its border with Myanmar, state media reported on Monday, as effects from an ethnic insurgency raging in the south-east Asian country spill over into China.

The official Xinhua news agency, citing unidentified military sources, said the drill would begin on Tuesday in Yunnan province, but provided no other details, such as what kind of weapons would be used.

The report comes as tensions have flared in the border area as Myanmar battles an ethnic insurgency in its north-eastern Shan state. The country declared a state of emergency in the Kokang region in February.

Last month, local authorities in south-west China said that five people - a Chinese national and four from Myanmar - were injured after two explosive devices hit the area.

In March, a Myanmar warplane dropped a bomb in a sugarcane field, killing five Chinese people and injuring eight others.

Beijing was infuriated and responded by sending fighter jets to patrol the border, with Premier Li Keqiang promising to "resolutely" protect citizens.

Kokang has strong bonds with China - local people speak a Chinese dialect and China's yuan is the common currency - and tens of thousands of people have crossed the border to flee the fighting.

Beijing was a key backer of Myanmar's military junta while it was under Western sanctions, but President Thein Sein has increased ties with other countries including the United States since launching political reforms in 2011.

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