Burmese Army Acquires Chinese Military Equipment Amid Peace Talks
Local sources in Muse, a gateway town border with China’s Ruili, today reported that they saw 22 wheeler trucks which are common carriers in China transporting mobile artillery transport vehicles from China side of the border to Muse. At least 12 trucks have been seen traveling from Muse to Lashio, northern Shan State’s capital where Burmese army’s Northeast Regional Command is headquartered, at around 11 am, the sources said.
On February 19, a convoy of over 100 military trucks transported infantry soldiers, food, ammunition and other military equipment from Kachin State capital Myitkyina to Gang Dau Yang and Nam San Yang village. About 20 Burmese military trucks fully loaded with combat prepared troops travelled from Bhamo to Nam San Yang on the same day.
Local eyewitnesses said another 160 military trucks loaded with troops, food, artillery, ammunition and 50 small boats head out towards Sumpra Bum from Myitkyina in this week.
Burmese army has steadily increased its military presence in the whole Kachin and northern Shan State despite ongoing peace negotiations with ethnic armed groups. There has been an increase in the number of troops deployed in KIA’s 6th Battalion area in jade-rich Hpakant. Sources say more infantry units from a new Light Infantry Division (LID) are expected to deploy in Hpakant to reinforce current infantry units under Pakokku-based 101st LID.
Sept. 15 (Xinhua) — Myanmar is planning to upgrade and open the existing Muse border point with China’s Ruili as an international entry and exit gate as the second phase of boosting tourism following those with Thailand, Myanmar Minister of Immigration and Population U Khin Yi told Xinhua at a press conference here Sunday.
“It can be possible within two to three months ,” Khin Yi said.
Foreign visitors holding valid passport and visa will be allowed to enter and exit Myanmar through the Muse gate like Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw international airports, he said.
Previously, Muse border point stands as a gate for foreign visitors to enter across border and exit from the same point holding temporary border pass. The same applies to Myanmar citizens.
As the first phase of transforming border gates into international entry and exit gates, Myanmar opened on Aug. 28 four entry and exit gates on the Myanmar-Thai border, namely Tachileik- Maesai, Myawaddy-Maesot, Tiki-Sunarong and Kawthoung-Ranong. There are 16 border points of Myanmar with neighboring countries.
Myanmar grants different categories of visa, namely Entry Visa, Diplomatic Visa, Gratis Official Courtesy Visa, Tourist Visa, Business visa, Transit Visa and Multiple Journey Special Re-entry Visa.
In 2012, the number of tourist arrival reached 1.02 million, an increase of 200,000 compared with 2011’s 820,000 due to the significant changes in Myanmar during the year. Myanmar targets 2 million in 2013 and up to 3 million in 2014.
It is assumed possible that many foreign visitors would visit Myanmar to attend the 27th Southeast Asian Games at the end of this year and the ASEAN Summit and other related summits next year.
Moreover, Myanmar authorities have also granted visa-on-arrival for visitors from 48 countries. Foreign investment in the hotels and tourist sector amounted to 1.585 billion U.S. dollars, standing the fifth largest sector in foreign investment as of July 2013, according to official statistics.
The government has been trying to sign a final contract with China to start a railway project extending between the western and eastern regions of Myanmar without releasing any information to the public, reports say.
Officials from Myanmar and China signed a memorandum of understanding for railway project connecting Kyaukphyu, Rakhine State and Muse, Shan State two years ago and they are now trying to sign a memorandum of agreement in the near future. Details about the project have not been released yet.
“Chinese Ambassador Mr Yang Houlan visited Maday Island yesterday (May 19) and met with the local residents. I don’t exactly know the reason for his visit. When we asked the Chinese ambassador whether there are railway and motorway projects in Maday Island, he didn’t give a direct answer and said he didn’t know. The Chinese ambassador himself didn’t give an official disclosure about whether there is a railway project or not. We, the local residents, don’t get to know anything about the Kyaukphyu-Muse railway project,” said Tun Kyi, a local resident from Kyaukphyu.
Local residents from Kyuakphyu also say that they were not informed about the oil and natural gas pipeline project and they only found out after the project started.
The residents say they will not accept any projects including the new railway and motorway projects that lack transparency and public notifications.
“The gas pipeline and Kyaukphyu deep seaport projects are nearly completed. The local residents are now suffering from the disadvantages of the gas pipeline project, but the authorities and respective companies continued to work [on the project]. When the locals protested to show their dissatisfaction, they get sued. Such kinds of things are still happening in this time,” said Snow from Myanmar-China Pipeline Watch Committee.
“Even though the government kept saying to have transparency, [they] haven’t done anything about it in reality. We accept the investment arriving to Rakhine State, but we only have the locals to benefit from these projects. Now, only a group of people receive the benefits but the locals don’t receive any benefits. Instead, they have to face the consequences of the projects. As [they] still haven’t solved the compensation issues of the local residents, they shouldn’t work on the railway project now. So, I want to tell those who will make the decisions about the project to make the decisions after cooperating with the local residents,” she added.
The railway project is 868.262 kilometers long (539.19 miles) and will pass through Kyaukphyu, Ahn, Mandalay, Lashio, and Muse.
The project includes 79 train stations, 409 bridges, and 101 tunnels and will also connect with Kunming, Yunnan province in southern China. It will be built with full investment from China.
The Shan State Progressive Party and Shan State Army plan to open a drug rehabilitation hospital near Muse and Namhkham townships in northern Shan State, a spokesperson for the party said.
“There has been an increase in the number of drug addicts in our state. Most of them are living in downtown [areas]. Our party has a strong desire to improve Shan State in all aspects. So, we are now planning to build a drug rehabilitation hospital for ethnic Shan drug addicts,” he said.
The site for the hospital has not been selected yet but it will be near Muse and Namhkham, the spokesperson added.
“Human resources play a vital role in the development of a nation or a state. The major problems of the people living in Shan State are war and drug abuse,” he said adding that drug abuse was damaging youths in particular.
Senior military officials and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) will be attending the peace talks between the Myanmar government and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), an organizing member of the peace negotiations said.
Peace panel member Lamine Guamja said the government on October 10 offered to hold the peace talks with the KIO, the political wing of the KIA, and the group agreed to it.
“The KIO refused the government’s invitation to hold peaces talk in Muse or Nay Pyi Taw in September as the skirmishes were mounting at the time. The upcoming meeting is scheduled to be held in Muse or Ruili,” Guamja said.
He said that Aung Min, vice chairman of Union Peacemaking Work Committee, was the one who requested senior military officials to participate in the union level peace talks.
But Dwe Bu, an ethnic Kachin lawmaker from Lower House Parliament, said, “While peace talks are being made on the table, the fights are still occurring in border areas. It is totally impractical to believe that the government forces are not launching offensive (attacks) as both sides would try to anticipate each other. Key persons who can stop the conflict should participate in the peace talks.”
The ongoing armed conflict between the army and KIA started in June last year, when fighting broke out after a 17-year ceasefire agreement fell apart.
When the KIO and the government reached a ceasefire in 1994, and KIO was removed from the list of “Burma’s unlawful organizations”. But in October 2010, following the KIO’s refusal to transform its armed wing into a border guard force, Myanmar state media again started calling them “KIO insurgents”, signaling an official shift in government policy towards the KIO.
Speaking about the Kachin conflict, Noble laureate Aung San Suu Kyi said: “Some people are criticizing me as I remain silent on this case. They can do so as they are not satisfied with me. In fact, I do not want to fan the flames of skirmishes to any side.”
Government military truck which carrying soldiers has been attacked near Namlawng village between Namhkam and Muse, near Chinese borderline on July 9, 8:30 AM. Some buildings in the compound of Namlawng monastery are damaged because the government troops are firing back.
The government military convoy has been attacked by remote controlled bombs near Chinese boarder, Selan village in Muse township, northern Shan state on July 8, 11 AM. Two soldiers were dead and another six were wounded.
29.may 2012 Traffic between Lashio and Muse, the Sino-Burmese border, has been suspended by continued conflict between the Burma Army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) since yesterday. Also affected is the traffic between Mantong and Namtu where the oil and gas pipelines will be passing through, said sources coming to Lashio. (SHAN)
20.April 2012 A bomb exploded about 05:00 this morning at 105th mile trade zone, Muse, killing one immigration officer and injuring a few others. No one has yet declared responsible. Earlier on 14 April, another bomb exploded on the rail track in Myitkyina. (SHAN)
A Burmese immigration officer died Friday following an early morning explosion at a gate located on the edge of Muse’s 105-Mile special trade zone in Shan state.
Located opposite the Chinese city of Ruili, multicultural Muse is one of Burma’s most important trading hubs with its northern neighbor.
In addition to fatally wounding an immigration officer, the 5 am explosion also injured five other people, according to a resident of Muse who spoke on condition of anonymity.
No group or individuals have taken responsibility for the bombing. It remains unknown if the blast was related to fighting that is currently taking place in northern Shan and neighboring Kachin states.
Gate infamous for blatant corruption
For many years officials at the gate where the explosion occurred have openly sold Burmese national identity cards to Chinese citizens who want to work and do business in Burma. Informed sources tell the Kachin News Group that $4,500 is the current going rate Chinese business people must pay to obtain Burmese papers.
One soldier from Burma’s army and a police officer were killed yesterday following an attack by the Kachin resistance in Muse township in northern Shan State, witnesses report. The attack by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) also injured three other government troops.
The guerrilla ambush took place at noon near Namtau village, close to Burma’s ‘105th Mile Border Trade Zone’, an area responsible for more than 70% of Burma’s trade with China. According to KIA sources the assault was carried out by members of Battalion 36 under the KIA’s 4th Brigade.
Despite President Thein Sein’s recent public declaration that Burma’s army must cease its offensive against the KIA, the armed forces known as the Tatmadaw, has during the past week sent an additional 500 troops to crush the 8th Battalion of the KIA’s 4th Brigade. Over the last few days fighting between the 8th Battalion and government forces has been particularly fierce along a strech of territory slated to be the route of the Shwe gas pipeline project.
A roadway connecting the ‘105th Mile Border Trade Zone’ to the rest of Burma, the Mandalay-Muse route, has sustained repeated attacks by the Kachin resistance since a ceasefire between the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and the central government ended this past June.
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