The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) launched live-ammunition drills on Tuesday in southwestern Yunnan Province, close to the border with Burma.
The troops from China’s army and air force under of the Chengdu Military Area Command assembled in Linchang, Yunnan Province on Monday to prepare for the joint drill.
Tang Jibing, senior colonel of the operations department of the Chengdu Military Area Command, said on Monday that the drill is aimed to improve the joint operation capabilities of the army and air force in order to protect the border and air security of China.
China had already cordoned off large swathes of its territory extending alongside Burma’s restive Kokang region.
Air force, artillery, air defence, infantry, missile and radar military units participated in the drills, in an area which has been the site of fraying tensions between Burma and China.
Burma’s ferocious war in the Kokang region has pushed tens of thousands of refugees across the border and into China. In March, a Burmese war plane crossed over into Chinese territory, dropping a bomb which killed five.
On Monday China’s foreign ministry assured that the military drills had nothing to do with the deadly incident.
“This activity falls within the normal remit of the army. In terms of the issue you mention of bombs from Myanmar falling within the Chinese border recently, at that point we expressed our position. We think the situation in northern Myanmar touches upon peace and tranquility in the China-Myanmar border region, we are willing at this point to once again urge those concerned in Myanmar to show restraint and prevent an escalation in the conflict, and to bring the heat down on the situation as soon as possible so as to avoid loss of safety and order along the China-Myanmar border,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a regular news briefing.
Beijing says it has informed Naypyidaw about the drills.
Burma’s parliament last month extended martial law for three months in the Kokang region.
Burmese government soldiers have been battling rebels who were dug in as close as 500 meters from the border area, Burma’s Information Ministry said in April.
The main rebel group in Kokang is called the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), which is led by ethnic Chinese commander Peng Jiasheng.
The MNDAA was formed from remnants of the Communist Party of Burma, a powerful China-backed guerrilla force that battled the Burmese government until it splintered in 1989.
The group struck a truce with the government which lasted until 2009, when government troops took over their region in a conflict that pushed tens of thousands of refugees into China’s Yunnan province.