China today staged air and ground live-fire drills close to the border with Myanmar in an apparent show of strength to prevent spillover of fighting between the Myanmarese army and ethnic rebels.
Chinese authorities had informed Myanmar of the drill before it kicked off, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The joint drill, carried out by the Southern Theatre Command of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as per annual training schedule, was aimed at testing the troops’ capabilities in rapid manoeuvre, precise destruction, vertical blockade and joint strike.
As required in a live-fire drill, the exercise sites and attack targets were randomly selected, the report said.
The armoured infantry, artillery, air defence, army aviation, and air force units participated in the drill, the report said.
Colonel Fang Xin, who was with the the theatre command, said the live-fire drill demonstrated the PLA’s resolve and will help in safeguarding national security in border areas and air defence and protecting people’s safety and their property.
Chinese military had deployed its force along the Myanmar border in 2015 after five people were killed and several others wounded in firing by a Myanmar jet which was reportedly chasing Kokoang rebels in the border areas.
The main rebel force in Kokang, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MDAA), are ethnic Chinese and once formed part of Communist Party forces in the region.
The MDAA is led by ethnic Chinese commander Peng Jiasheng who has reached a peace accord with the Myanmar government which lasted until 2009.
He again resurfaced in 2015, prompting Myanmar to seek Chinese assistance to crackdown on his outfit.
Peng has denied any Chinese involvement in interviews to the official media here.