CHIANG MAI, Thailand — The Chinese government is attempting to secure a long-term lease of around 200,000 acres of land from the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in northern Shan State, according to informed Kachin sources and independent foreign intelligence analysts.
The land is based around the village of Mong Ko, 70 kilometers (43 miles) east of Muse on the Chinese border and the site of a former Communist Party of Burma military base. The area is now the headquarters of the KIA’s 4th Brigade, while an ethnic Kokang rebel base belonging to the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army sits on the opposite side of the Thanlyin River. Mong Ko is also close to units from the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA). All three ethnic armed groups are currently in active conflict with the Burma Armed Forces.
The Irrawaddy has learned that Chinese authorities have been approaching Kachin rebels to lease the land since 2013 without reaching any agreement. Intelligence sources told The Irrawaddy that Chinese authorities are seeking to secure a 90-year lease in order to ensure the stability of the border area, which is close to the main overland trade route between Burma and Yunnan province. They added that the KIA has so far rebuffed the Chinese approach.