Seng Latt Aung & Seng Htoi Zin / March 22, 2020
The border gates along the Kachin-China international boundary have still opened for Chinese visitors and workers amid the global outbreak of the deadly virus causing coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
The director of the Kachin State government office Zaw Myo Nyut said the State government has no power to close the border gates and only the union government in the Naypyidaw control the border issue via Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The border gates can’t be shut down by the State government and the gates are open for both countries for friendship relationship, Zaw added. The previous government handled the same thing, he continued.
However, on last Wednesday, Burma’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that all the land border gates across the country were ordered to close temporarily until further notice. The Ministry yesterday also stop issuing visa-on-arrival and e-visa for all countries in order to restrict foreigners coming into the country. Diplomats and U.N officials are also encouraged to take a 14-day home quarantine upon arrival.
Aung Win, the Kachin State minister of Immigration and Human Resource, said that people cross the border illegally and smuggle goods because some illegal routes are not settle and there is no peace yet. Some part of Kachin State border with China is controlled by an ethnic-armed organization called Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), which still in active fighting with Burma Army.
Since last month, Myitkyina residents urged the Kachin State government to shut down the border gates temporarily along the Chinese border. Myitkyina based Kachin State People’s Party (KSPP) also requested the State government to order the temporary border closure. The Vice Chairman-2 of the KSPP Gumgrawng Awng Hkam told The Kachin Post that he is worried about the deadly virus could easily infect people in Kachin State due to the many Chinese and commercial vehicles are coming in and out the of the border.
Kachin State has six border gates along the Chinese border. Three of them—Kampaiti, Pang Wa and Hpimaw— are jointly administered by Burma Army, Border Guard Force and local militia. Two of the border gates—Laiza and Maija Yang—is controlled by KIO. Only the Loije border gate is run by the Burmese government.
Until yesterday, Burma’s Ministry of Heath claimed that there is no Covid-19 case in the country, indicating that the nation has an over 150 of suspected and surveillance patients who have similar symptoms of Covid-19.