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Myanmar holds Chinese over illegal lumbering
January 20,2015   By:Xinhua

Jan.20, 2015 -- The Foreign Ministry has confirmed that Chinese citizens were detained by Myanmar authorities for illegal lumbering and that embassy staff members had been sent to offer them help.

"China has requested that Myanmar authorities protect Chinese citizens' safety and their justified rights and interests," ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily news conference on Monday.

The incident comes amid reports that hundreds of Chinese citizens could be trapped in northern Myanmar by a renewed outbreak of fighting between government forces and rebels.

Hong said Myanmar authorities have responded positively to China's request and have noted the Chinese government's concern. They said that those detained will be well looked after.

He added that the embassy in Myanmar has sent staff members to visit the detained Chinese and offer them all necessary assistance.

As for the situation in northern Myanmar, Hong said that China is still trying to get more information and verify the situation.

However, he did not confirm whether several hundred Chinese were trapped in northern Myanmar as reported.

Guo Jiguang, a researcher on Asia-Pacific studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the Chinese government is still checking information, as citizens near the fighting might have fled across the border.

Global Times reported that about 2,000 people, including hundreds of Chinese citizens, have been trapped by fighting in northern Myanmar as of Sunday, as tensions between Myanmar government troops and rebels escalated.

Heavy clashes erupted between government troops and the Kachin Independence Army in Phakant on Thursday after the KIA ambushed a convoy carrying Transport Minister U Kamann Du Naw in Kachin state on Wednesday, Xinhua News Agency reported on Sunday.

An armed KIA group stopped the convoy while the minister was traveling on an inspection tour, it said.

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