Myanmar Resistance Forces Seize Another China Border Crossing

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Myanmar Resistance Forces Seize Another China Border Crossing

The MNDAA’s reported capture of the Yanlonkyaing border gate marks a further step toward its reconquest of the Kokang Self-Administered Zone in northern Shan State.

Myanmar Resistance Forces Seize Another China Border Crossing

The Yanlonkyaing China-Myanmar Border Gate to the northeast of Laukkai, the capital of the Kokang Self-Administered Zone in Shan State, Myanmar.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Paingpeace

An armed resistance group in Myanmar has reportedly seized another key border crossing with China, tightening its grip on an important junta stronghold in northeastern Shan State.

Local media outlets reported yesterday that forces from the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) captured the Yanlonkyaing border gate in the Kokang Self-Administered Zone (SAZ) early on Monday. The Burmese service of Radio Free Asia also cited local residents as saying that the border crossing had fallen.

The MNDAA is a part of the Three Brotherhood Alliance, which in late October launched a coordinated offensive against junta positions in northern Shan State. Since then, the Alliance, which also includes the Arakan Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), has overrun hundreds of military outposts and seized control of important towns and border crossings. The current proximate objective of Operation 1027, as it is known, is the reconquest of the Kokang SAZ, which the MNDAA governed prior to 2009, and is currently ruled by a Border Guard Force aligned with the Myanmar military.

The Yanlongkyaing border gate sits about 5 kilometers northeast of Laukkai, the capital of the Kokang SAZ, and is one of two official border crossings along the zone’s 50 kilometer border with China. The first, connecting Chinshwehaw in Myanmar with the Chinese town of Mending, was captured in the initial stages of Operation 1027.

If the reports of the gate’s seizure are true, it brings the MNDAA one step closer to reconquering Laukkai, around which it has been closing in for several weeks, and, perhaps in time, pushing the military junta out of northern Shan State entirely. The MNDAA governed Kokang, a predominantly ethnic Chinese-majority enclave in northern Shan State, for two decades until 2009, when it refused to join a military-aligned Border Guard Force. It was subsequently driven from power by the Myanmar military, and a splinter group that betrayed the MNDAA was granted control of the territory.

Under the BGF, it has come under the insidious sway of Chinese crime families that have funded themselves with industrial-scale online scam operations. The closure of these operations in Laukkai has been one of the publicly announced goals of Operation 2017, most likely as a way of playing to Chinese government concerns about the criminality flourishing in the border region.

The seizure of the border gate takes place in the midst of a reported ceasefire between the Three Brotherhood Alliance and the Myanmar military, which was supposedly mediated by the Chinese government last week. While the exact terms and scope of the ceasefire were never made public, there are increasing signs that it has failed to hold. Yesterday also brought reports from the MNDAA of junta airstrikes on an important outpost on the edge of Laukkai.

Despite the announcement, local media reported the TNLA’s seizure of Namhsan, a town in the western part of the Three Brotherhood Alliance’s areas of operation in Shan State. The same day also brought reports that Alliance forces had taken control of the 105-Mile Trade Zone about 10 kilometers outside Muse, Myanmar’s most significant border crossing with China in terms of trade volume, which lies to the west of the Kokang SAZ.