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Chinese navy ships visit Myanmar amid heightened security tensions

Published Nov 28, 2023 12:38AM ET
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BEIJING (Reuters) - Three Chinese navy ships have arrived in Myanmar on a goodwill visit as part of renewed Chinese defence engagement amid Chinese concern about a surge of fighting between Myanmar junta forces and insurgents near the Chinese border.

The guided-missile destroyer Zibo and the guided-missile frigate Jingzhou were escorted by a Myanmar frigate to docks in Myanmar's main city of Yangon on Monday, China's People's Liberation Navy (PLAN) said in a statement.

The 700-strong force, on a four-day visit, is being led by Senior Captain Sun Bo and includes a Chinese resupply ship, the Qiandaohu, the Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported.

The Chinese task force would "conduct naval security exercises" with Myanmar, it reported.

The Chinese vessels are part of the Chinese navy's 44th fleet that has conducted anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia since 2008. The 44th fleet was sighted in the United Arab Emirates this month.

China's military has stepped up defence engagement in Southeast Asia this year after the lifting of zero-COVID restrictions in late 2022.

This month, the Chinese and Vietnamese navies conducted their 35th joint patrol in Beibu Gulf since 2005, while Chinese troops held a border defence exchange with armed forces from Laos.

The Chinese naval visit comes as Myanmar junta forces are battling ethnic minority insurgents near the border with China, raising concerns in China, which has called for peace.

Chinese troops have been conducting live-fire drills on their side of the border since Saturday so that People's Liberation Army (PLA) forces are "ready for any emergency", the PLA Daily reported.

The drills, due to end on Tuesday, are in line with an annual training plan but the PLA Daily said the conflict in Myanmar had inflicted casualties and was "complicating the security situation".

Chinese navy ships visit Myanmar amid heightened security tensions
 

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