China began military exercises along its border with Burma on Saturday, November 25, and called on its nationals to urgently leave the north of the country, which has been in the grip of fighting since the end of October. For its part, Indonesia has strengthened its sea patrols in the Aceh region to prevent the arrival of new boats carrying Rohingya refugees, more than a thousand of whom have disembarked in a week, police said on Saturday and local officials.

Clashes in Burma have intensified, particularly in large areas of northern Shan State, near the Chinese border, locally forcing more than 80,000 people to leave their homes according to the UN.

For the past month, an alliance of several insurgent movements representing ethnic minorities has launched a major offensive against the army in regions close to the Chinese border. These rebels seized dozens of military positions and a strategic city for trade with China.

“Live Combat Exercises”

In this context, the Chinese army has launched “real combat exercises” along the border with Burma, its southern command said in a statement on Saturday, which did not specify the duration of the operations or the number of soldiers involved. .

These exercises aim to “test the troops’ ability (…) to control and close the borders and to strike with firepower”, explains the army, ensuring that it is “ready to respond to all kinds of emergencies”. China informed the Burmese army of these exercises, junta spokesperson Zaw Min Tun said on Saturday.

On Friday, junta-backed Burmese media claimed that opponents of the regular army had used drones to drop bombs on vehicles in Muse, a border town.

The attack, which took place on Thursday, destroyed one hundred and twenty vehicles “transporting household goods, consumer goods, clothing and construction materials,” according to the Global New Light of Myanmar, a state media outlet.

A significant part of trade with China passes precisely through this zone. Its blockage for several weeks has deprived the Burmese army of liquidity, which has become precious in an economy that has broken down since the 2021 coup.

In view of the deterioration of the security situation, China on Friday called on its nationals to leave northern Burma “as quickly as possible” and to stay away from the fighting.

Indonesia tries to ‘prevent the arrival of Rohingya’

“Police are patrolling twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to prevent Rohingya refugees from arriving in East Aceh,” Indonesian police chief AKBP said on Saturday. Andy Rahmansyah, in a press release. He added that the order had been given “in coastal areas to intensify surveillance, both on the coast and in the Strait of Malacca, in order to prevent the arrival of Rohingya.”

More than a thousand Rohingya refugees have arrived in Indonesia’s far-western province of Aceh since November 14. This is the highest number of arrivals since 2017. Villagers tried last week to push migrant boats back into the sea but authorities eventually welcomed them and transported them to a temporary accommodation center.

Bangladesh blocked the departure of Rohingya

Mostly Muslim, the Rohingya are persecuted in Burma and thousands of them risk their lives every year on perilous and costly sea journeys from Bangladesh, most often aboard makeshift boats.

Indonesia is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention and says it is not obligated to welcome migrants arriving from Burma

Bangladesh, for its part, hosts around a million Rohingya, including some 750,000 who fled repression by the Burmese army in 2017, who are the subject of an investigation for “acts of genocide” before the International Court of Justice ( ICJ).

On Saturday, Bangladeshi police said they had, the previous evening, “prevented 58 Rohingya from leaving,” including nine men, 16 women and 33 children, as they left refugee camps to embark at Teknaf, a river port on the border. with Burma, in order to travel by sea to Indonesia. “We arrested two suspected Bangladeshi smugglers,” Teknaf police chief Osman Goni told Agence France-Presse.