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Shellfire From Myanmar Enters China, Drawing a Rebuke

By THOMAS FULLER, BANGKOK (NY Times): China said Thursday that it had expressed “grave concern” to the Myanmar government after a shell, apparently fired during fighting between Myanmar troops and ethnic rebels, landed in Chinese territory, and a Chinese government spokesman called for an immediate cease-fire.

The Chinese response was unusually strong given the close ties between the two countries in recent years, and it suggested that China was growing increasingly impatient and nervous about the Myanmar government’s campaign against ethnic Kachin rebels.

“China has lodged urgent representation to Myanmar over the incident, to express grave concerns and dissatisfaction,” said Hong Lei, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, who called for a cease-fire, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader in Myanmar’s Parliament, called for an immediate stop to the fighting. But the Irrawaddy online news site reported her as saying she could not help more forcefully to resolve the conflict because she was not on the ethics committee.

“That doesn’t mean that I don’t take responsibility for the matter or that I don’t care about it, but different committees should respect each other and not interfere in each other’s work,” she said.

Myanmar’s government has repeatedly said that it wants to negotiate with the Kachin rebels, but the military appears to be accelerating its campaign, using heavy artillery, attack helicopters and other aircraft to flush out guerrillas from their positions surrounding Laiza, a town along the border with China.

Kachin rebels still control some territory along the border, including areas where Chinese companies own plantations.

Published Date: Thursday, January 17th, 2013 | 08:12 PM

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