China Protests Burma Border Air Raid That Kills 4 Chinese

By Didi Tang 14 March 2015

BEIJING — China sent fighter jets to its border with neighboring Burma on Saturday and lodged a diplomatic protest after it said a Burmese warplane dropped a bomb on Chinese territory, killing four people.

The incident occurred as Burma’s government stepped up its fight against ethnic Chinese rebels in the country’s Kokang region along China’s southwestern border. The upsurge in fighting in recent weeks has sent thousands of people fleeing across the border into China’s Yunnan province.

Newspapers in Burma reported that government forces launched airstrikes against rebels and heavy clashes took place near the border.

The official Xinhua News Agency said the bomb hit a sugarcane field in the Chinese border city of Lincang, killing four people working there on Friday and wounding nine others.

Air force spokesman Col. Shen Jinke said China sent several warplanes to warn off and chase away any Burmese planes approaching the Chinese border. Shen said that Beijing would closely monitor the airspace along the border.

Liu Zhenmin, a vice foreign minister, summoned Burma’s Ambassador Thit Linn Ohn on Friday to issue the protest.

China “strongly condemns” the incident and calls on Burma to carry out a thorough investigation, report the findings to China, punish the guilty and take steps to ensure similar events do not occur, the ministry said in a statement.

Beijing has disavowed any links with the ethnic Chinese rebels in Burma, saying it respects Burma’s sovereignty. Burmese officials have said former Chinese soldiers have trained the rebels, an allegation the insurgents have denied.

Burmese officials blame the renewed fighting on a renegade rebel faction led by Peng Jiasheng, which attempted to seize Laukkai, the capital of the self-administered Kokang Special Region.

US officials have long suspected Peng of playing a major role in drug trafficking, initially in opium and more recently in methamphetamines. The guerrillas used to be part of the now-defunct Burmese Communist Party, which had been backed by China until it signed a ceasefire with the then-military government in Burma in 1989.