Four Yunnan farmers killed in blast from bomb reportedly dropped by Myanmese military jet.
A top Chinese official has warned Myanmar his military would take “resolute measures” if its neighbour failed to ensure the safety of the joint border area.
The warning comes after Beijing fighter jets sped to the border when four Chinese farmers were reportedly killed by a bomb dropped by a Myanmar military aircraft in China’s southwestern province of Yunnan.
Fan Changlong, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, told Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of Myanmar’s armed forces, that the Myanmese military should “seriously control” its troops and prevent any recurrence of such an incident.
“Otherwise, Chinese military will take resolute measures to protect the safety of Chinese people and their assets,” Fan was quoted as saying by Xinhua, the state-run news agency.
Fan said Myanmar should understand the seriousness of the incident, launch a thorough investigation and also provide compensation to the families of the victims.
His strongly worded remarks came after state media reported that a bomb fell from a Myanmar aircraft on Friday and exploded in a sugarcane field near the city of Lincang, killing four people and injuring nine others.
However, Myanmar officials claimed that no bomb had been dropped by its aircraft.
The Chinese fighter jets were sent to “track, monitor, warn and chase away” Myanmar military planes that had flown close to the Chinese border on Friday, air force spokesman Shen Jinke was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
In a diplomatic protest, Yang Houlan, China’s envoy to Myanmar, summoned the country’s Vice-President Sai Mauk Kham and Min Aung Hlaing to issue “solemn representations”.
On Friday, Liu Zhenmin, China’s Deputy Foreign Minister, summoned Thit Linn Ohn, Myanmar’s ambassador to Beijing, to a meeting where he urged Myanmar to carry out a thorough investigation into the bombing, Xinhua reported.
A villager living 3 km from the sugarcane field, identified by her surname, Zhang, was quoted by news portal thepaper.cn as saying that the bomb was dropped just as villagers were cutting down the crop.
“We heard a Myanmar military aircraft approaching, and then there was explosion,” she said. “We got to the scene after half an hour and found body parts scattered [over the field].”
Myanmar’s military aircraft had stepped up their activities during the past week, she said
Other residents living along the border said they had been on high alert following conflicts between the Myanmar military and rebel forces, led by ethnic Chinese commander Peng Jiasheng. The fighting prompted Myanmar to declare a state of emergency in Kokang last month.
The unrest has led to more than 30,000 people fleeing from Myanmar to Yunnan.
“We have not been accepting any guests with Myanmar passports since December,” a hotel receptionist in Lincang told the Sunday Morning Post.
Myanmar denied that any bomb from its military aircraft had fallen in China, and said that its forces had kept Chinese forces fully informed of their air operations. “The targets of all our aerial attacks have been inside our own territory,” said Zaw Htay, an official from the Myanmar president’s office.
“It’s possible those fighting us purposely created these attacks to cause a misunderstanding between China and us.”
Myanmar has claimed Chinese mercenaries were fighting with the rebels. China has denied that, and said it had not offered any support to Peng.
On Monday, China’s Foreign Ministry said it made representations to Myanmar after stray bullets fired by Myanmar soldiers hit the home of a Chinese resident, without causing any injury.
Fan Hongwei, a professor of Southeast Asian studies at Xiamen University, said Beijing was unlikely to take strong action against Myanmar. “It is a dilemma for Beijing,” he said.
“China needs a stable relationship with its neighbours as part of its ambitious plan to boost connectivity among nations stretching through Europe.”