Myanmar informs Chinese military attaché about Laukkaing clashes

State-controlled media said on February 12 that the government has informed the Chinese military attaché about the Laukkaing clashes, adding that "ethnic Kokang rebels" entered Myanmar through the Chinese border before the clashes and were well-trained in high-tech military weaponry. 

Afterward, there was widespread criticism of the government's earlier reporting about the clashes, which described the situation as a small skirmish involving a 100-strong rebel force. In fact, the rebel force included over 1,000 troops, and local people reported that the fighting was different from the usual fighting with ethnic armed forces.

There were 13 clashes from February 9 to 12, killing five officers and 42 soldiers, and wounding 11 officers and 62 soldiers, according to the state-owned Global New Light of Myanmar. The newspaper also said some of the "ethnic Kokang rebels"  were wounded, and some arms were seized while the rebels were "fleeing."

The Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) said three of its soldiers were killed and six were wounded, while on the government side, there were 70 casualties and injured.

The government's report included some concurrences with facts uttered by local Laukkaing residents as a special difference. [In other words, the government talked the same as Laukkaing residents.]

Laukkaing residents say the clashes were not the same like previous ones used to occur between the government troops and ethnic armed groups.

The government's report says the Kokang rebels seemed to arrive near the site of clashes [the intersection of 18 mile and Tarshwehtan] in advance wearing new uniforms without showing any tiredness for distant travelling and used first-rate compact vehicles for their faster transport via roads used for border trade and manufacturing. It also said the rebels used several rocket launchers and a large amount of grenades seeming to be well-trained for such fighting. 

According to facts not different with what local Laukkaing residents said, it has been learnt that the rebels were said to be Chinese mercenaries speaking only in Chinese holding flags written in theirlanguage as they're totally different from the ethnic armed groupsalthough they're joined together.

MNDAA said the fact is true that it had a 1000-strong force fighting in those clashes but not detailing about how it obtained such a strong force.

A faction of Kokang rebels fled to China after a four-day clash with government troops in 2009 sparked by drug-related problems and the issue of border guard forces. Later reports said that former Kokang leader Phone Kya Shin fled to China or Wa Special Region. 

The Kokang group has been crippled over the last five years. This month's clashes occurred a month after Phone Kya Shin's return last December.

The 84-year-old leader told the Global Times in a recent interview that he would attack the government again.

A month after the interview, the clashes began in Laukkaing, which is located between China and Myanmar. 

The Chinese foreign ministry announced on February 10 that the Chinese government was raising concerns about the clashes between government troops and the Kokang rebels. The ministry instructed the rebels and the Myanmar army to settle their disputes peacefully and said China would protect its security and rule of law.

Union Minister Aung Min said although the Kokang participated in the previous peace talks, they would be disallowed to take part in the signing of a nationwide ceasefire deal. 

Military observers pointed out that Phone Kya Shin resurfaced after he was identified by a Chinese newspaper.

A former communist party member said Chinese nationals joined the Burmese Communist Party and helped fight government troops with Chinese military assistance in 1968, 1970 and after 1980. 

According to the government’s official announcement, the insurgents intended to occupy Laukkaing before Union Day and attacked the Laukkaing administrative offices, as well as the prison and police station. 

Military observers pointed out that the clashes in Laukkaing were well-organised. The use of weapons and forces was different from other armed groups, except those of the United Wa State Army (UWSA). 

The Special Region-2 of UWSA, the Special Region-4 of Mongla and the Special Region-1 of Laukkaing are situated on the east bank of the Thanlwin River. 

The leader of Mongla is reported to be a son-in-law of Phone Kya Shin, leading some to believe that the Wa and the residents of Mongla may be behind the clashes in Laukkaing.

The UWSA is the largest rebel army in Myanmar. It has also a weapons factory and can use modern weapons. 

Journalist Bertil Lintner has written said that Chinese intelligence gave military training to the UWSA, despite denials by both sides.

Other rumours claim the UWSA provided reinforcements to the Shan State Progressive Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) in their clashes with government troops. Moreover, the UWSA provided weapons assistance to the Kachin Independence Organisation/Kachin Independence Army (KIO/KIA) in their clashes with the government troops.  

The UWSA describes itself as an ethnic organisation, but no members of its politburo were born in Myanmar. Most of the members were born in China. The UWSA usually makeS decisions only after consulting with the administrator of Yunnan Province, China.

The clashes in Kokang broke out amid growing anger of Myanmar people over natural resources illegally flowing to China. The Myanmar government officially informed the Chinese military attaché to Myanmar of the clashes taking place along the Myanmar-China border, saying the Myanmar Army will strengthen its forces to prevent Kokang rebels from infiltrating through the Chinese border.