Myanmar Resistance Group Claims Attack on Chinese Pipeline Facility

By The Irrawaddy 11 May 2023

Local resistance group Natogyi Guerrilla Force (NGF) attacked junta troops guarding an off-take station for the China-backed oil-and-gas pipelines in Mandalay Region’s Natogyi Township on Sunday, the second attack on the facility following one last year.

The station is located about 5 km to the east of Natogyi, and is guarded by some 20 junta soldiers. NGF attacked the control center at around 8.30 p.m. on Sunday, said Bo Zeyar, a member of the group.

“We fired three 60-mm rockets at the control center on May 7. The rockets hit the building. We learned that two junta soldiers were killed and five others wounded,” Bo Zeyar said.

The Irrawaddy could not independently verify the junta casualties.

The same station was damaged when a local resistance group attacked regime forces guarding the facility in February last year.

The oil-and-gas pipelines, which run from the Rakhine coast to southern China, were constructed in 2011 and began operation in July 2013.

The 973-km pipelines pass through Magwe and Mandalay regions and Shan State to China’s Yunnan Province.

The attack comes on the heels of Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang’s meeting with Myanmar junta boss Min Aung Hlaing early this month, at which the Chinese official offered support for what he called Myanmar’s efforts to maintain stability, revitalize the economy, and realize sustainable development. Qin became the first top-level Chinese government official to visit the leadership of the Myanmar regime since the coup. The junta has so far killed more than 3,400 people in its crackdown on opposition to its rule.

Following the visit, anti-China protests were staged in Yangon and Sagaing Region’s Yinmabin, Salingyi and Letpadaung, where the Chinese flag was burned.

China has attracted public ire for its failure to denounce the coup and for offering support—along with Russia—for the military regime at the UN. Anti-China protests erupted across the country in the wake of the putsch and some resistance groups have threatened to attack China’s investments in the country.

China is a major investor in Myanmar and places great importance on mines, oil-and-gas pipelines, and infrastructure projects designed to give it access to the Indian Ocean.

Referring to Sunday’s attack, Bo Zeyar said: “I want to say that the steps recently taken by the Chinese government and Communist Party disappoint and anger the entire Myanmar people. If the Chinese government supports the military and those committing war crimes, it will also become the accomplice of a terrorist.”

Following the attack, the regime reinforced the control center. Around 80 junta soldiers have been deployed there now, and security has also been tightened in the neighborhood with camouflage-clad junta soldiers guarding the area.

In May 2021, three security personnel guarding another off-take station of the pipeline in Singtaing Township in Mandalay Region were slashed to death by unidentified attackers. Despite the attacks, the twin pipelines themselves have not been affected.