Live-fire drills to start near border with Myanmar

Live-fire drills to start near border with Myanmar
This photo released by the official WeChat account of PLA Daily shows an infantry fighting vehicle being deployed to take part in a live-ammunition drill which will start Tuesday in a border area of Yunnan province near Myanmar.

People's Liberation Army forces will start a live-ammunition drill on Tuesday in a border area of Yunnan province near Myanmar.

An analyst said the exercise indicates Beijing's determination to safeguard border security and the well-being of citizens.

It comes after two bombings caused by Myanmar in March and May that resulted in Chinese casualties in Yunnan near the border and triggered protests by Beijing and calls for investigations.

Zhao Picong, spokesman for the PLA Chengdu Military Area Command, said on Monday that the drill, which will involve troops from the PLA army and air force, has been scheduled in accordance with training plans.

"No aircraft will be allowed to enter the airspace for the drill without permission", and vehicles entering border areas in Gengma and Zhenkang counties will be subject to traffic controls, the PLA said.

The drill will not affect the public's work, and daily lives and local people will not be allowed to enter the drill areas without permits, according to a PLA statement.

Completion of the drill will be announced later, the release said. The statement said China has informed Myanmar of the drill, in accordance with accepted international practices and agreements between the two countries and two militaries. The first bombing on March 13 in Gengma county left five people dead, and the second, on May 14 in Zhenkang county, caused no deaths but left at least five injured, Xinhua reported.

Jia Duqiang, an expert on Southeast Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the drill sends a signal that recent unrest in northern Myanmar still poses a threat to Chinese citizens along the border.

"China expects an early easing of the situation," and the drill also shows its determination to champion security in the area, Jia said.

Asked about the reasons for the drill, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said it is "a regular activity within the scope of the military's mission".

Responding to the bombings, Hua said the situation in northern Myanmar "is connected to the peace and tranquility" in the two countries' border areas.

Hua said China is calling for Myanmar to "maintain restraint, prevent the escalation of conflicts, to cool the situation as soon as possible" and avoid harming security and order in the border areas.

Hua said China also hopes that Myanmar can work with it to ensure peace in the border areas and to "promote the long-lasting, healthy and stable development of the China-Myanmar relationship".

President Xi Jinping told his Myanmar counterpart on the sidelines of an Asian-African summit in late April that China supports efforts to find a political solution to the unrest in northern Myanmar.

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