Since the start of a major anti-junta offensive late last month in Myanmar, border crossings in northern Shan State to China, including Muse and Chin She Haw, have been closed….reports Asian Lite News
Myanmar is particularly worried about the conflict in neighbouring northern Shan State that has created problems for Mandalay-based traders, who are now dependent on Mongla, a town lying on the Myanmar-China border. The town is controlled by the ethnic armed group, the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), reported Myanmar Now.
Since the start of a major anti-junta offensive late last month in Myanmar, border crossings in northern Shan State to China, including Muse and Chin She Haw, have been closed.
After Yangon, Mandalay is Myanmar’s second-largest city and has left Mandalay-based traders with no option but to use the Mongla gateway into China, which they say is not an ideal situation, according to Myanmar Now.
“The road is not straight; it has a lot of twists and turns and hills. It’s actually quite dangerous for the driver and it takes at least 10 days to make the trip from Mandalay to Mongla,” said a woman who exports watermelons to China.
“But we have no other choice,” she added.
In addition to the long journey to the border, shipping goods taken through the Mongla area means paying higher taxes.
It now costs a total of 12,000 yuan (1.4 lakhs) to send a 12-wheeled truck with a load of watermelons from Mandalay to China, she said.
In response to the emerging concerns of traders, the NDAA announced last week that taxes on exports of goods travelling through the NDAA-controlled gate would be cut in half.
Other traders in Mandalay say they have also reluctantly switched to using Mongla as their main transport route since the junta announced on November 8 that the Muse and Chin Shwe Haw border gates had been closed, reported Myanmar Now.
“The majority of us in Mandalay have started [using Mongla], but only as a last resort,” said one trader.
Due to the instability of the February 2021 military coup, border trade, worth billions of dollars to Myanmar each year, has almost entirely halted, with Thailand being the only state with significant volumes of trade.
The NDAA is not directly involved in the current northern Shan State conflict, although it is closely allied to the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, one of three members of the Brotherhood Alliance that launched Operation 1027 against the regime on October 27.
The NDAA has seen tensions with Myanmar’s military in the past after it refused to transform itself into a Border Guard Force under military command ahead of elections held in 2010.
The highway from Kengtung to Mongla was closed prior to the coup due to tensions with the United Wa State Army, but was reopened by the regime in late 2021, reported Myanmar Now. (ANI)