China has called on Myanmar’s ruling junta to work with it to strengthen security on their shared border amid escalating fighting between government forces and armed groups.
Nong Rong, an assistant foreign minister, was dispatched to Naypyidaw over the weekend in an apparent effort to ease tensions, a week after armed groups in Myanmar launched a major offensive against the military government in the country’s northeast.
“As a friendly neighbour, China sincerely hopes that Myanmar will restore stability and development as soon as possible, and supports all parties in Myanmar to properly resolve differences within the constitutional and legal framework and achieve reconciliation through dialogue.
“[China] asked Myanmar to cooperate with us to maintain stability on the China-Myanmar border, effectively ensure the personal and property safety of Chinese border residents, and take effective measures to strengthen the security of Chinese personnel, institutions and projects in Myanmar,” Nong said in the statement.
China and Myanmar’s shared border runs for 2,000km (1,250 miles).
Nong’s trip came as Chinese residents and infrastructure in the region faced growing security risks from heavy fighting near the border. Unconfirmed reports online said that Chinese homes in the border city of Ruili had been damaged by shelling. One picture showed what appeared to be craters on a road left by shell impacts.
It is unclear whether there were any Chinese casualties, and the Chinese government has not confirmed the reports.
Nong was received by the junta government’s foreign minister Than Shwe and deputy foreign minister Lwin Oo. According to a Myanmar foreign ministry statement, both agreed to work with China to further promote bilateral and international cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative and the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation.
The economic framework was proposed by late Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in 2014 with states along the Lancang-Mekong river, which also include Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam.