Chinese Border Dispute Creates Challenges for Shan State Farmers

Locals say Chinese authorities are blocking them from tending their paddies and plantations in an area where China building a border fence.


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Villagers say they are facing difficulties in tending to their fields following the abandonment of a border fence project by Chinese authorities in northern Shan State’s Pangsai sub-township.

In September, China began construction of a border fence in the Kyukok and Hpai Kawng area of Pangsai. Claiming that they were blocking an “illegal road” from Shan State, they put in place iron and concrete pillars before later canceling the plan when it was pointed out that the pillars were on Burmese soil.

One resident on the Shan State side of the border said that there are paddy fields and vegetable plantations just 30 feet from the fence.

“Chinese authorities do not allow anybody to work there. They do not allow us to do anything there,” he explained, on the condition of anonymity. “We cannot work on our own land.”

He added that these restrictions have been in place for nearly two weeks.

“In the past, we could travel to both China and Burma. Now we can’t go there, not even for shopping. If we want to buy something in China, we can go there only through Pangsai,” he explained, referring to the larger, formal crossing.

Hpai Kawng locals said they have already sent a letter to the township administrator requesting that this problem be resolved, but that action has yet to be taken.

The local who spoke to NMG said security has increased since the border dispute began, with a stronger presence of soldiers and policemen on the Chinese side.

“We have seen many Chinese Hummer vehicles with heavy weaponry patrolling the border area,” he explained.

The border marker near Hpai Kawng village was agreed upon by both China and Burma in 1993.

The people in the area in in question are largely ethnic Shan and Kachin communities. Hpai Kawng is home to more than 500 residents from 60 households.