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Burma orders 10,000 Chinese to leave

Sept 25, 2009 (DVB), Up to 10,000 Chinese nationals have been ordered by the Burmese government to leave the Kokang enclave in northeastern Burma, which was last month the scene of heavy fighting.

Rumours have spread throughout the region that fighting could again erupt between the Burmese army and a Kokang armed group, Reuters reported today.

A Burmese military analyst based in the China-Burma border could not confirm the reports, although the Chinese foreign ministry on Thursday advised its citizens not to travel to the region, and for Chinese businessmen in the region to exercise caution.

"The Foreign Ministry and the Chinese embassy in Myanmar [Burma] remind Chinese citizens and companies who are already in Northern Myanmar to pay attention to security risks," a statement on the foreign ministry website said.

The news coincides with reports that China is setting up new refugee camps close to its border with Burma, in anticipation of a fresh influx of refugees.

According to the Kachin News Group, the orders and funding to build the camps came directly from Beijing.

The three camps are around the Salween River that flows from China into Burma and are said to be able to accommodate around 15,000 people.

Around 37,000 civilians in the Kokang region in Shan state fled into China last month after the eruption of fighting. Chinese authorities reportedly provided food and shelter to the refugees, the majority of whom have since returned.

The influx of refugees pushed China into issuing a rare rebuke to the Burmese government, urging it to "properly deal with its domestic issue to safeguard the regional stability in the China-Myanmar border area".

A report released by International Crisis Group last month said that the problem didn't stop at conflict between the government and ethnic groups.

"Myanmar's borders continue to leak all sorts of problems , not just insurgency, but also drugs, HIV/AIDS and, recently, tens of thousands of refugees," it said.

Reporting by Joseph Allchin


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