Myanmar ups the ante on fencing along China border as Wang Yi visits Yangon

Myanmar had upped the ante ahead of Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit and asserted that China will have to remove any new permanent fences which encroach on the buffer zone between the two countries.

Government spokesman U Zaw Htay, in response to a query by leading Myanmar media outlet The Irrawaddy said last Friday. “There is a border agreement. No side can build permanently within 10 meters of the border on either side.”

He said barbed-wire fences, which China said were preventing the spread of COVID-19, encroach on neutral land. Foreign ministry from both countries are set to discuss the issue this month and Myanmar will only allow temporary fencing, he added.

Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, has arrived in Myanmar on a two-day visit and the border is expected to be on the agenda.

Myanmar and China signed border management and cooperation agreements in 1997 to solve disputes. Myanmar says it is working to settle the issue to avoid further disputes.

China started erecting the fence in October along the border in Kachin and Shan states of Myanmar.

Myanmar’s military spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun said no permanent building should be constructed within 10 meters of the border.

Then Burmese prime minister U Nu and his Chinese counterpart, Zhou Enlai, signed an agreement in October 1960 introducing the 10-meter rule along the 2,170km border. Border posts were erected the following year.

In January 2019, armed Chinese border guards removed Myanmar’s flag from within 5 meters of the border in Chin Shwe Haw in the Kokang Self-Administered Zone in Shan State, straining bilateral ties.

A source from Myanmar’s foreign ministry told The Irrawaddy after the incident that the border needed to be re-demarcated in the area.

Political analyst U Than Soe Naing told The Irrawaddy, “Being a superpower, China pokes its nose into everything and it looks down on its neighbours. But the fence is not the national policy from Beijing. It was done for security reasons [by the regional authorities].”

China must respect bilateral agreements and Myanmar should react if its interests are at risk, he said. (Economic Times)