Monday, September 14, 2009

Tensions slightly easing on the Sino-Burma border

S.H.A.N.- The siege by joint Wa-Mongla forces to the Burma Army garrison at Mongyang, 260 km north of Maesai since 26 August, was lifted on 9 September last week following a number of official requests by the Burma Army, according to sources on the Sino-Burma border.

People who had fled from Panghsang (the Wa capital), Mongyang and Mongla, as a result, are slowly trickling back since. “The transport fare between Tangyan (west of the Salween) and Panghsang, up to K 120,000 ($120) the previous week, is almost back to normal (K 40,000),” said a local official in Panghsang. “Now about 50% of those people have returned.”

The siege was prompted by the disappearance of 3 Burma Army officers and men who were found moving suspiciously around Khosoong, the border between Wa and Mongla late last month. “Maj Kyaw Soe Aung, the 2IC (second-in-command) of IB 279 (based in Mongyang) was reported to have demanded the immediate release of his men or else,” said an informed source from Mongla.

The Burma Army’s Kengtung-based Triangle Command officers and Lt-General Ye Myint, Naypyitaw’s chief negotiator on the controversial Border Guard Force (BGF) plan, had in person and by letter to Mongla, requested the released of the said three saying the latter had no cause for worry about an impending attack.

While it wasn’t clear if the Wa and Mongla were convinced about the Burma Army’s intentions, both had finally decided to call off the siege, said the source. “I believe China must have a hand in the alliance’s decision,” commented a Burma watcher from Thailand.

A 15 member Chinese delegation had visited Panghsang on 8 September, the day before the lifting of the siege.

Thousands of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops backed by armored vehicles and artillery were seen in Meng Lien (Monglem), opposite Panghsang, according to a source who was recently visiting the Wa territory. “ ‘We will fight to the last man or woman,’ the Wa was reported to have told the delegation,” he said. “But it wasn’t clear how the Chinese representatives had responded.”

Peng Jiasheng, the deposed Kokang leader, who was reported by Global Times to be taking asylum in the Wa State, is believed to have left it, according to a reliable source in Panghsang. “He’s not in Mongla, where his daughter and his son-in-law Sai Leun are, either,” he said. “To both the Wa and Mongla, he’s a Ho Hsang (the Brahma head, meaning too hot to handle). The farther he’s away from them, the better it is for him and themselves.”

The Burma Army had earlier demanded his extradition, to which the Wa replied he had not been seen since 30 August, a day after the fall of Qingshuihe, the Kokang stronghold.

Burma Army forces laying siege to the Wa territory since late last month, meanwhile, have so far remained in place. “So despite the lifting of the siege Mongyang, the alert is still on,” said another source close to the leadership.

The UWSA has deployed 3 divisions plus supporting units for the defense, he added: the 318th commanded by Bao Ai Roong in the north; the 418th, commanded by Zhao Saidao in the west; and the 468th, commanded by Sai Hsarm in the South.

Along the Thai border, the UWSA’s southern 171st Military Region command has 5 “divisions”, commanded by Wei Xuegang, according to a UWSA publication: 772nd (Mong Jawd), 775th (Hwe Aw), 778th (Khailong), 248th (Hopang-Hoyawd) and 518th (Mongyawn).

Burma Newscasts - Tensions slightly easing on the Sino-Burma border
Monday, 14 September 2009

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