China denies rumours of Burma eviction

Oct 1, 2009 (DVB), China's foreign ministry has denied rumours that the Burmese government forcibly evicted some 10,000 Chinese nationals from its northern border region.

At a press briefing yesterday, foreign ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu was asked to confirm whether the incident reported last month took place.

"According to our knowledge, the reports are not true," he said. "The current situation in the China-Myanmar [Burma] border are stable and in order. The exchanges between the two peoples are also normal."

Following clashes in late August between Burmese troops and the Kokang rebel group, based in Burma's northeastern Shan state, which borders China, Beijing warned its citizens not to travel to the region.

Tens of thousands of Chinese live in the region, many of them shop owners and businessmen. The Kokang rebel group is also predominantly made up of ethnic Chinese.

The fighting forced some 37,000 refugees across the border into China's southern Yunnan province.

China has since set up a number of refugee camps along the border, with rumours of fresh clashes circulating in Shan state.

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.

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

Jiang Yu yesterday reiterated that Burma "take effective measures according to law to protect the lawful rights and interests of the Chinese citizens in Myanmar".

Reporting by Francis Wade

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