PLA Military Drills Along Sino-Burmese Border ‘Natural,’ Chinese Envoy Says

By Lawi Weng 3 June 2015

LAW KHEE LAR, Karen State — A Chinese envoy here observing a summit of ethnic armed groups described his country’s live-fire military exercises near its border with northeast Burma as routine, expressing confidence that the activities would not affect Burma’s relations with its communist neighbor to the north.

Sun Guoxiang, China’s Asian affairs emissary, made the remarks to reporters on Tuesday at a gathering of 19 ethnic armed groups in Law Khee Lar, Karen State, a stronghold of the Karen National Union (KNU) near the Thai-Burma border.

“Our Chinese army exists to protect our country,” he said. “By doing the military [exercises], this is natural. We do not intend to fight other countries with this military training.”

He said that given the strong ties between the two countries’ militaries, the exercises conducted this week would not damage relations between Naypyidaw and Beijing.

The decision by the People’s Liberation Army to conduct the live-fire training has raised eyebrows given recent tensions between Burma and China arising from at least two incidents in which the former’s armed forces have allowed artillery rounds to stray into the latter’s territory.

The Burma Army has been waging a fierce campaign against ethnic Kokang insurgents in northeast Burma since February, and one errant munition killed five Chinese villagers in neighboring Yunnan province on March 13, provoking condemnation from Beijing.

The Burmese government has not commented on the Chinese military exercises being staged this week.