China has urged Myanmar to take better care of Chinese citizens living in a border region where clashes between an ethnic militia and Myanmar troops flared last month, the Foreign Ministry said in a rare display of displeasure with the military junta.
China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement late Friday the recent conflict in Kokang, a northeastern Myanmar region bordering China, "harmed the rights and interests of Chinese citizens living there," and it urged Myanmar to make sure such incidents don't happen again.
Several days of clashes sent more than 30,000 refugees fleeing into China and prompted an unusual request from China that Myanmar calm the situation. Myanmar's junta said the fighting killed 26 government soldiers and at least eight rebels, but it was impossible to verify that report.
A Foreign Ministry official lodged a formal complaint with the Myanmar Embassy on Monday and called on the government to investigate the incident and punish anyone found to have broken the law, the statement on the ministry's Web site said. Myanmar, also known as Burma, is largely estranged from the West, but China has maintained close economic and diplomatic ties with the junta that have ensured access to the country's vast mineral wealth. Large numbers of Chinese have migrated to Myanmar for business, and major state companies are big investors in Myanmar's oil and gas industries.
Myanmar's border regions have for decades been the scene of fighting between ethnic armies and the military that has displaced hundreds of thousands of people.