China urges Myanmar to address ethnic conflict
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Last Updated: Friday, August 28, 2009, 18:52
Beijing: China on Friday issued a rare admonishment to its southern neighbour and ally Myanmar, urging it to resolve an ethnic conflict that has driven at least 10,000 refugees into Chinese territory.

"(China) hopes that Myanmar can appropriately solve its relevant internal problems and safeguard the stability of the China-Myanmar border," foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in a statement.

"We also urge Myanmar to protect the safety and legal rights of Chinese citizens in Myanmar," said the statement, posted on the ministry's website.

A battle in Myanmar's remote Shan state between the army and the Kokang rebel group broke out yesterday, in violation of a 20-year ceasefire, according to the US Campaign for Burma (USCB), which uses Myanmar's former name.

China is one of Myanmar's closest allies, its main source of military hardware and a major consumer of its vast natural resources, despite Western concerns over the military-ruled nation's rights record.

The impact of US and European sanctions against Myanmar has been weakened by neighbours such as China spending billions of dollars on the country's natural gas, timber and precious stones.

China has in the past vetoed UN Security Council resolutions condemning its isolated neighbour. The countries share a 2,200-kilometre border.

Bureau Report

First Published: Friday, August 28, 2009, 18:52

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