Myanmar’s ethnic minority militia seizes strategic border crossing, disrupting trade with China

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File Photo

26th November 2023 – (Bangkok) A prominent border crossing between Myanmar and China has fallen under the control of an armed ethnic minority group in Myanmar, according to local media and security sources. The seizure occurred on Sunday, amid escalating clashes in Myanmar’s northern Shan state, adjacent to the Chinese border.

An alliance of three ethnic minority groups initiated a military offensive against the ruling Myanmar junta in October, resulting in intense conflict across the region. The insurgents have successfully taken over numerous military positions, including a town significant for trade with China. This strategic seizure has stifled commerce routes, imposing further financial strains on the already cash-strapped junta.

The Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), one of the three groups in the alliance, reported that it had captured the Kyin San Kyawt border gate. The Kokang news, a local media outlet affiliated with the group, confirmed the takeover on Sunday.

“MNDAA also reported they seized one more border trade gate, which is called Kyin San Kyawt, in the Mongko area, Muse district this morning,” the Kokang news stated.

The report also mentioned that the alliance — which includes the Arakan Army (AA) and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) — had claimed other positions in the border trade zone since launching the attack on Friday.

A security source revealed to AFP that the MNDAA had hoisted its flag at the border trade zone at Kyin San Kyawt. The crossing point, a crucial hub for trade along the Myanmar-China border, was reopened in 2022 following disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier in the week, Zaw Min Tun, a spokesperson for the junta, informed state media that around 120 trucks parked near the border crossing had been set ablaze. The junta blamed the destruction on the armed groups.

The intensification of conflict has further strained Myanmar’s already beleaguered economy, severely affecting critical cross-border trade and depriving the military government of crucial tax revenue and foreign exchange. Local reports suggest that the goods commonly transported through the Kyin San Kyawt crossing include machinery, electrical appliances, agricultural tractors, and consumer items.