The Chinese government is investigating the detention of more than 100 Chinese citizens by Myanmar on suspicion that they entered the country to engage in logging, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Myanmar said Tuesday.
A group of diplomats has arrived in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State in northern Myanmar, to discuss the situation with officials there and to offer consular services to the detained Chinese, the spokesman, Pan Xuesong, said in a written statement.
According to Chinese news reports on Monday, the Chinese were detained in early January after having entered Kachin, which is west of Yunnan Province. The state is a volatile area of Myanmar, also known as Burma, that has been split by a long-running civil war. Part of the state is controlled by the Kachin Independence Organization and its armed wing, the Kachin Independence Army. There has been intense fighting in recent years between the rebel army, made up of ethnic Kachin, and the military of Myanmar. Recently, there has been another surge in violence.
Kachin is rich in natural resources that include jade and wood. Chinese have often crossed the border from Yunnan to exploit and trade those resources.
Mr. Pan said the Chinese diplomats in Myitkyina were holding talks with “relevant officials from the local government and police and immigration departments.”
Mr. Pan also said that the diplomats in Myitkyina had failed to find any evidence that hundreds of Chinese civilians had been trapped with ethnic Kachin civilians in an area of Kachin where clashes have been taking place in recent days. On Monday, a state-run Chinese newspaper, Global Times, reported that hundreds of Chinese, including jade miners and merchants, had been trapped by fighting in the state and were running low on food and water. The Global Times report cited an intelligence official with a rebel group but did not give the official’s name.