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China-Myanmar pipelines not affected by border conflict

By Xin Dingding and Li Yingqing (China Daily)

10:00, March 11, 2012

The China-Myanmar oil and gas pipelines under construction have not been affected by fighting inside Myanmar, Meng Sutie, director of the Yunnan public security bureau, said on Saturday.

Since last year, clashes have been reported between Myanmar's central government forces and the Kachin ethnic armed group in Northern Myanmar's Kachin State, where the oil and gas pipelines pass through.

"Many Chinese companies have invested a great deal in Myanmar, especially in the oil pipeline which passes through the Kachin State area," Meng told reporters after an open panel discussion at the ongoing National People's Congress meetings.

"At present, the construction of the oil and gas pipelines is proceeding smoothly and there are no outstanding problems. The Myanmar side has been cooperating well and effectively with us on the construction," he said.

The pipelines, due to be completed in 2013, are expected to be the fourth channel for oil and natural gas to enter China, after ocean shipping, the Sino-Kazakh pipelines and the Sino-Russian crude oil pipeline.

Media reports said peace talks between Myanmar's central government and the Kachin ethnic armed group have been held several times in Ruili, a border town in Yunnan province.

About 2,000 to 3,000 Kachins from the China-Myanmar border region are now staying in Yunnan province, according to Meng.

"These people, including some elderly and children, come to visit family and friends through a normal channel, and they stay with their relatives or friends," he said, denying earlier reports that the Kachins lived in tent settlements.

But he admitted that some of the Kachins have overstayed in Yunnan province.

"The government's attitude is, if fighting endangers these people's lives and property safety, Yunnan will offer help and settlement. But, we will encourage them to be peaceful and we will give necessary humanitarian aid," he said.

In another development, Qin Guangrong, Party chief of Yunnan province, said on Saturday that the serious drought that hit the Southwest China province will not affect the quality and quantity of vegetables exported to Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Southeast Asian cities such as Bangkok.

The vegetables for exports grow in the area where water conservancy facilities are in good condition and are not affected by the drought, he said.

The provincial government plans to invest 100 billion yuan ($16 billion) to improve local water conservancy facilities between 2011 and 2015, he said.

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