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Chinese state firm condemns “rebel groups” after attacks on copper site

Wanbao Mining Copper Ltd. issued a statement Tuesday condemning recent attacks carried out by what the Chinese state firm labeled “rebel groups” on its copper project sites in Sagaing’s Salingyi township.

Long-range artillery is said to have been fired at the site since June 22, destroying a high voltage electricity tower in the company’s compound. No casualties have been reported.

Wanbao claimed that it had suspended operations in Sagaing since Feb. 2021, but that some Burmese workers voluntarily lived and worked inside the company compound, with most of the staff continuing to be paid a basic salary.

It said that it did not want to “be entangled in Burma’s civil war” and wished to ensure the safety of its staff, urging that its employees’ decision to continue working be respected.

On June 24, the A Mi Myay Special Task Force and Young People Force local defense groups claimed they carried out a joint attack on one of the company’s electricity towers as a warning as the company was providing food and shelter to the military within its compound.

Wanbao Mining Copper Ltd. is a joint venture between the Burmese military’s MEHL and Norinco — a Chinese state-owned entity that supplies arms to the Burmese military. The company operates a highly criticized copper mining operation at sites in Letpadaung. Its employees have been urged by citizens to partake in Burma’s CDM.

Beijing has previously contacted the NUG with regards to attacks on its strategic investments within Burma, asking the parallel government to “control” its forces after a Jan. 7 attack on the power supply to Sagaing’s Tagaung Taung nickel plant — a similarly controversial joint venture. Many of Sagaing’s local defence forces lack direct command links to the NUG.

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