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People's Daily Online

Joint probe crucial to ease tension at Myanmar border

People's Daily Online

By Liu Zhun (Global Times) 09:56, March 18, 2015

A joint investigation has been launched into a bombing incident by a Myanmese warplane which killed five Chinese civilians and injured eight in China's Southwest Yunnan Province last Friday, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei on Monday. Meanwhile, the Myanmar government has issued an official statement, in which it expressed 'deep sorrow' for the fatalities and injuries, and promised to find out the truth as soon as possible in joint efforts with its Chinese counterparts.

Both the Myanmar government and armed ethnic forces denied they were responsible for the fatal bombing. Since no one claimed responsibility in the first place, the investigation is essential. Both the Myanmese government and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) are willing to cooperate.

China's proper response to the incident, which incorporates restraint and deterrence, has resulted in positive preliminary developments.

This upward trajectory must be maintained so that the risks of a deadlock can be minimized. The current bilateral cooperation, or a tripartite negotiation if the MNDAA joins later, will be the essential way to address the issue.

Looking at the big picture, we must realize that, given the possibility that the problem-solving process, if prolonged, might trigger side effects. So the sooner the facts are revealed and the culprits are punished, the sooner the Myanmar-China relationship can get back on track. Unexpected complications should be avoided to the best of all parties' abilities.

Mutual perception is crucial to long-term bilateral ties between Myanmar and China. The Myanmese public has had a worsening perception toward China in recent years, fostered by various political groups. The bombing incident will negatively influence the Chinese public's attitude toward Myanmar. How to address this issue will be a challenge for the two countries.

Above all, this incident can serve as both a challenge and a chance for all parties involved. As for China, the incident raises the alarm that China can never relax vigilance over border security issues, but in the meantime, China has more responsibilities and confidence to play a constructive role in mediating the crisis which has been tormenting northern Myanmar fitfully for decades. As for the Myanmar government and the local armed ethnic forces, this incident must be regarded as a lesson, by which they should reflect on the disasters caused by their ceaseless war and try to seek a political channel to settle their antagonism.

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