Kachin Independence Army Captures Town Close to Chinese-Myanmar Border

Town Captured

The Kachin Independence Army (KIA), a resistance group engaged in hostilities against the junta running Myanmar’s government, captured a town named Lwegel, near the border with China in the southwestern part of Kachin State.

The KIA and Arakan Army (AA)  were reportedly welcomed as “liberators” by the local population of the village since the junta government remains unpopular with the public.

Junta camps within the town were taken over, with estimates of up to ten since offensives began in this area around March 27th.

KIA member posing near a sign. Source: The Kachin Net

Since March 7th, the KIA has captured around sixty junta outposts. Lwegel serves as a trading hub for China and Myanmar and hosts some important camps for the junta. 

There are ongoing unconfirmed reports suggesting leaders of some anti-junta groups, such as the KIA and the AA are scheduled to meet with Chinese officials, possibly to discuss the process of reaching a peace agreement, although this is also currently unverified.

Chinese Live Fire Exercise 

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is planning to conduct a live-fire exercise on the Chinese-Myanmar border,  from 8:00 a.m. on April 2nd to 6:00 p.m. local time on April 3rd.

Chinese soldiers likely on a patrol as part of a training exercise. Source: 81.cn

Any traffic is required to comply with local laws, according to a statement issued by the Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture, in southwestern China, Yunnan Province, today, April 1st.

China held similar drills around this area in November of last year.

Analysis

As fighting across Myanmar continues, the junta keeps losing territory to the many rebel groups, and many outposts and camps are lost. The government is slowly losing the civil war, additionally dealing with fleeing personnel, imposing unpopular conscription laws, and several accusations of committing war crimes.

Although China has not taken the side of the government or resistance groups, they did  broker a ceasefire between the Three Brotherhood Alliance and the junta. This is likely due to the fighting happening near the Chinese border. 

The upcoming live-fire drill China is conducting could be a warning to both resistance groups and the junta to keep conflict away from the border, with fighting sometimes taking place near Chinese borders. Indirect fire has lead to many instances of Chinese civilians being killed or injured, outraging Chinese officials.   

Since the captured town of Lwegel is a trading hub for the two nations, it is also in China’s interest that trade continues to flow, uninterrupted by the fighting taking place. 

Cyber scamming has been a big issue in Myanmar since the civil war broke out. With fighting still continuing, this makes it harder for Chinese police to crack down on these scams, as they are not able to enter areas these centers are operating due to fighting. Most of these scam centers are on the shared border with China. 

Evan Berridge
Evan Berridge
Evan is an analyst specializing in Indo-Pacific affairs and has over 5 years of experience as a freelance writer.

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