China is giving shelter to more than 3,000 people who have fled Burma after fighting between the government and rebels, and stray shells have fallen inside Chinese territory causing minor damage but no deaths, state media said on Tuesday.
Four ethnic armed groups have attacked security forces in the north of Burma, dealing a major blow to leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s top goal of reaching peace with ethnic minorities.
China, which has been alarmed by previous fighting along the porous border, has put its armed forces on high alert and called for all sides to exercise restraint.
The official China Daily said injured people among the 3,000 Burmese citizens have been taken to hospital in the southwestern province of Yunnan, which shares a long border with Burma.
“The Chinese authority has responded swiftly and handled the situation appropriately,” Pan Xuesong, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Burma, told the newspaper.
Stray shells have fallen in Wanding, an important border crossing, causing some minor damage, state television added.
The Global Times newspaper also said a Chinese government building in Wanding had been lightly damaged.
China’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday that at least one Chinese resident had also been injured.
The sudden escalation of fighting comes as the Burmese government grapples with a conflict in northwestern Arakan State that has sent hundreds of Rohingya Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh, posing a new challenge to Nobel peace prize winner Suu Kyi, who swept to power last year on promises of national reconciliation.
Previous fighting along the border pushed thousands of people into China. China was infuriated last year when five Chinese people were killed when the fighting spilled over into Chinese territory.