Sun, 03 Dec 2023

BEIJING, China - On Sunday, the Chinese government issued four arrest warrants targeting senior junta-linked figures in Myanmar's Kokang Self-Administered Zone, highlighting the regime's strained relationship with Beijing.

The warrants were issued for Ming Xuechang, a 69-year-old former state assembly member from the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), and three members of his family for suspected involvement in illegal gambling operations in the autonomous region in northern Shan State.

Ming Xuechang's 42-year-old son Ming Guoping, who the Chinese government wants, is a Kokang Border Guard Force (BGF) leader working under Myanmar military command.

His daughter Ming Julan, 43, and granddaughter Ming Zhenzhen, 27, are both wanted by Chinese authorities for alleged involvement in crimes committed in Kokang territory bordering China.

Bounties ranging from 100,000 to 500,000 yuan (US$13,700 to $68,600) have been offered in exchange for information leading to the arrest of the four wanted people. The warrants also threaten to prosecute anyone who assists them in evading arrest.

The move has increased pressure on junta leader Min Aung Hlaing, who, as head of Myanmar's military, controls the USDP and has final authority over BGF commanders' activities.

It also comes six weeks after China arrested Maung Maung, a Kokang lawmaker elected as a USDP candidate in 2020. Ming Xuechang's son-in-law (Ming Julan's husband) was also apprehended at the same time.

Ming Xuechang was elected to the Shan State Assembly in 2010 to represent Laukkai Township's Constituency (2).

Ming Xuechang retired from politics and appointed his son, Ming Guoping, to a senior BGF position. Ming Ko'an (or Min Ko An) is another son who works for the regime's Ministry of Home Affairs as a sub-inspector in Kokang. He is also reportedly being sought by the Chinese authorities.

While China has been putting pressure on Min Aung Hlaing for months to address its concerns about illegal activities in Myanmar's border regions, Chinese media outlets have speculated that an incident on October 20 may have tested Beijing's patience.

Several Chinese undercover agents posing as victims of human trafficking were killed on that day while investigating cyber crimes allegedly committed by groups based in Kokang territory, according to Chinese news reports.

A junta-backed news outlet subsequently announced that at least one Chinese government agent, as well as many other Chinese citizens, had been killed in Laukkai.

At that time, the Chinese government demanded that the Myanmar regime investigate Ming Xuechang.

According to some analysts, Operation 1027, the offensive launched by the MNDAA and its allies on October 27, likely had the tacit support of the Chinese government, which has long played a significant role in managing conflicting forces along its border with Myanmar.

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