Hundreds of Chinese Nationals Trapped in Northern Burma: Report
By Reuters 19 January 2015
BEIJING — Hundreds of Chinese citizens, including miners and jade traders, are among 2,000 civilians trapped by fighting between government troops and insurgents in northern Burma, China’s state-backed Global Times reported on Monday.
The Chinese nationals and local civilians are trapped in the northern state of Kachin, which borders southern China, where the Burma Army has been battling the rebel Kachin Independence Army (KIA) for years, the newspaper said.
It cited an unidentified intelligence official for a Burma rebel group, although the group also was not specified.
The Chinese nationals included jade dealers, gold miners and lumberjacks, the report said. There is an open pit mine in the Kachin town of Hpakant, the largest source of Burmese jade.
The rebel intelligence official told the Global Times that those trapped have limited food and water and no medical supplies.
A Chinese consular official said the Foreign Ministry was in the process of confirming the report and that no Chinese nationals had requested assistance, according to a state television report.
Officials from ethnic armed groups told the Global Times they would allow the Chinese to go home “if conditions allow.”
The report said that Burma has beefed up its military presence at the Kambaiti Pass, which sits on the border with China, in a bid to curb illegal cross-border traffic.
That could cut off passage for Chinese nationals lacking documentation to return home, the Global Times said, quoting unidentified sources. It said some of them had gone into hiding in homes and forests in the area.
The area is renowned for the flourishing illegal jade trade, much of it smuggled over the border into China.
In Burma, peace talks between rebel groups and the quasi-civilian government that took over in 2011 after nearly 50 years of military rule have thus far failed to yield a peace agreement.
The KIA took up arms in 1961 and is the second-largest ethnic armed group in Burma.