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Certain Western media outlets have never missed a chance to discredit China. This time, the combat training activities China's military force conducted along the Chinese side of the China-Myanmar border have turned out to be their new tool with which to attack China.
The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Southern Theatre Command announced on Saturday that it would conduct a series of real combat training and drills along the border to "test the rapid maneuverability, border sealing, and fire strike capabilities of theatre troops." Interestingly, certain Western media outlets immediately interpreted the drills as China's attempt to support local militia factions and meddle in Myanmar's affairs.
Such allegations are groundless. To begin with, the training activities are aimed at safeguarding China's sovereignty, border security, and people's safety.
Myanmar has been suffering from a long-standing civil war, and the periodic conflicts have posed a constant threat to its neighbor. It is worth noting that just a day ahead of the drill, a convoy of trucks carrying household goods, consumer goods, clothes, and building materials into Myanmar from China went up in flames in what local media reported as an insurgent attack.
While the cause of the fire is still unknown, one thing is for sure – the escalated civil war in Myanmar has put China's justified rights and interests at risk. China has no intention of intervening in Myanmar's domestic affairs, but in the meantime, will not allow any shell or bullet to encroach across its border. The country's live-fire drill is a warning to the conflicting parties in Myanmar that they must stay away from Chinese soil.
In addition, if the conflicts in Myanmar spiral out of control, a potential inflow of refugees would pose a big challenge to neighboring countries including China. The military exercises in the border area are also a show of China's will to prevent the spillover of Myanmar's domestic fighting, and a message to reassure people on the Chinese side of the border.
It is not the first time that the PLA has conducted live-fire exercises along the border with Myanmar. In 2015, Chinese military sent its forces to the border after several of its civilians were killed and wounded after being fired on by a Myanmar jet. And such drills have turned out to be effective in deterring Myanmar's warring parties and raising the Myanmar government's sense of duty to put the conflicts under control.
China's military exercise is for self-defense, and strictly follows the principle of non-interference. In contrast to Western allegations that China attempts to "support local militia factions," Zaw Min Tun, a spokesperson for the Information Team of Myanmar's State Administration Council, clarified that his country was told of the drills, adding that the activities did not undermine China's policy of non-interference in Myanmar's internal affairs.
"The military tie between China and Myanmar is firm and collaboration between both armies is friendly and building up," the spokesperson was quoted by Reuters as saying.
It is worth noting that some ethnic minority armed forces touted that China – in exchange for their help to counter telecom fraud – is "supporting" them in the fight against the Myanmar government. Admittedly, China is cooperating with Myanmar to crack down on online scams, but the country has kept its hands off the domestic fighting in Myanmar.
These forces are adept at playing the China card for selfish interests – Myanmar's ethnic minorities brag about their "closeness" with China for more support, and Western media outlets are taking these unverified claims as well as the ongoing military drills as a chance to discredit and attack China.
China has been committed to regional peace and stability. On the contrary, Western sanctions on Myanmar have lasted for years. If the U.S.-led West really cares about the well-being of Myanmar and its people, it should at least stop manipulating the country's conflicts to serve its selfish purpose of attacking China.