Keesing`s Record of World Events (formerly Keesing`s

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Keesing's Record of World Events (formerly Keesing's Contemporary Archives),
Volume XI, January, 1957 Burma, China, Chinese, Page 15334
© 1931-2006 Keesing's Worldwide, LLC - All Rights Reserved.
Border Dispute - Chinese Troops enter Wa State. Talks
between U.N. and Chou En-lai. - Chinese Proposals for
Settlement. - Withdrawal of Chinese Troops from
Occupied Areas. -Chou En-lai's Visit to Burma.
The Burmese Foreign Ministry, in a communique issued on July 81, 1956, stated that
Chinese troops had entered Burmese territory and established outposts in the Wa State
(on the Chinese frontier cast of Mandalay). The statement added that the Burmese
Government was " seriously concerned " at this development and had brought the matter
to the attention of the Chinese Government. Denying reports of the incursion of several
thousands of Chinese troops, which had been published in several Rangoon newspapers,
the Burmese Prime Minister (U Ba Swe) said at a press conference on Aug. 7 that there
were about 600 Chinese troops on Burmese territory, scattered over an area of 700 to
1,000 square miles. He expressed confidence that a peaceful settlement could be achieved
through diplomatic means.
The frontier between China and the Wa State (the Premier explained) had been
demarcated by agreement between the British Government and the Chinese Nationalist
Government in 1941, although it had not been physically marked. In the Burmese
Government's view, the present Chinese Government should respect the demarcation line
agreed to by its predecessor, and should withdraw its troops before initiating further
negotiations on the subject. U Ba Swe added that the Burmese Ambassador in Peking had
been recalled for consultations, and that Burma was consulting India and other friendly
countries on the matter.
U Ba Swe subsequently stated on Sept. 4 that talks were in progress between Burma and
China, and announced on Oct. 2 that the Chinese Government had agreed to the 1941
boundary line; at the same time he denied press reports that resume focuses had entered
the autonomous Kachin State, in northern Burma.
At the Chinese Government's invitation, U Nu, the former Burmese Premier, arrived in
Peking on Oct. 23 for discussions with the Chinese Prime Minister, Mr. Chou En-lai. A
joint statement issued on Nov. 9 said that the Chinese Government had put forward " fair
and reasonable proposals which take into account the interests of both sides," and which
the Burmese Government had agreed to consider. The two Governments had also agreed
that all Chinese troops should withdrew from the area west of the 1941 line before the
end of the year, and that Burmese troops should withdraw from the villages of Hpimaw,
Kangfang, and Gawlum, in Kachin State. The Chinese forces completed their withdrawal
from the former area on Dec. 12, 1950.
In a broadcast from Rangoon on Nov. 10, U.N. summarized the historical background of
the dispute and gave details of the Chinese proposals. These envisaged a definitive
settlement of the frontier between the two countries, on which complete agreement had
never been reached; the recognition of China's claim to the villages of Hpimaw, Gawlum,
and Kangfang, which command seven high mountain passes into China; and the
termination of the arrangement whereby the Namwan Assigned Tract [in the disputed
area] had been leased by China to Burma.
Soon after the British annexation of Burma In 1886, U.N. stated, negotiations on the
undefined border had been opened, as a result, agreement had been ranched in 1897 that
the eastern border should run south of latitude 25 dog. 35 min. N., Just north of Myitkina .
This border had boon demarcated by 1900 except for the boundary of the Wa State,
which had remained undecided until 1941, when the British and Chinese Governments
reached an agreement on It. As regards that section of the border north of latitude 25 dog.
35 min. the British Government had Informed China In 1906 that It would regard the
watershed between the N'mai Kha and Salween rivers as the north -eastern frontier of
Burma, whereupon the Chinese claimed that they had rights to territories west of this line,
Including Hpimaw, Gawlum, and Kangfang. In a Note of April 10, 1911, the British
Government had rejected the Chinese claims except In regard to these three villages, In
return for the cession of which It offered to pay monetary compensation. When this offer
was refused, British troops had occupied the villages In 1913, an action which provoked
deep resentment In China.
In 1914, as a result of negotiations on the delimitation of the border between Assam and
Tibet, British, Tibetan and Chinese representatives bad agreed on the " McMahon Line "
as Burma's northern frontier. The Chinese Government, however, had disavowed its
representatives action and refused to ratify the convention, although effect was given to it
by the British and Tibetan Governments. Thus, when Burma became Independent In
1948 the frontier north of latitude 25 deg. 35 min had not been accepted by any Chinese
Government, and Chinese maps continued to claim a great port of this area.
U Nu explained that Mr. Chou En-lai had agreed to accept the 1941 frontier of the Wa
State, although he considered that it-had been unfairly Imposed upon China while she
was under Japanese attack. Moreover, he had also agreed to recognize the McMahon
Line and the N'mal Kha-Salween watershed as marking the frontier north of latitude 25
dog. 35 min. He had, however, made two reservations : (1) he bad claimed that Hpimaw,
Gawlum, and Kangfang were Chinese territory, a claim which was supported by the
British Note of April 10, 1911 and should therefore be returned to China, (2) ho had
asked that the loase of the Namwan Assigned Tract (an area of about 100 square miles
near Bhamo, which was recognized as Chinese territory but which had been under
perpetual lease to British Burma) should be abrogated, pointing out that the nominal
annual rent paid for It had been refused by the former Nationalist Government in 1948.
As both those areas formed part of the Kachin State (U Nu continued), ho had asked a
number of Kachin leaders to take part In the talks In Poking; U Zanhta Sin, the head of
the State, had said, however, that he was not in a position to give an immediate answer,
and discussions with the Kachin leaders were continuing. Meanwhile it had been agreed
with Mr. Chou En-lai that Burmeso troops should not enter that part of the Wa State
evacuated by Chinese troops until the boundary had been delimited; that the area would
remain under Burmese administration; and that Hpimaw, Gawlum, and Kangfang would
also remain under Burmese administration until a final settlement had boon reached.
U Nu expressed the opinion that the Chinese claims wore " fair and reasonable,"
emphasizing that Namwan had never boon Burmese territory and that the British had not
denied that China had claims to the three disputed villages. "Burma," he concluded,
"should not retail what she does not own. In all history, never has a boundary been
completely Bottled between China and Burma. A friendly settlement will be an
achievement… I realize, that it Is always hard to part with what we have, or what we
think we own. But It Is better to give up what Is not ours rather than allow such property
to become a home of contention … In regard to Namwan… we must leave It to the
friendly feelings of the Chinese to consider what they would do with It"
Mr. Chou En-lai arrived in Rangoon on Dec. 10 for a ten-day visit to Burma. His arrival
was made the occasion for a silent demonstration of protest against the proposed cession
of the three villages by Kachin students, who carried placards bearing slogans such as "
Friendship forever, cession never." In a speech on Dec. 11 Mr. Chou said that China must
"make even more strict demands on herself to put resolutely into practice the principles
of peaceful co-existence," and gave an assurance that China's policy towards Burma
would not be actuated by "big-Power chauvinism."
The Chinese Premier, accompanied by U Ba Swe, Sao Hkun Hkio (Burmese Foreign
Minister), and U Kyaw Nyein (Deputy Premier), flew on Dec. 15 to Mangshih, in
Yunnan (China), for discussions on the border question, which were continued after their
return to Rangoon. A joint statement issued on Dec. 20 said that talks, conducted " in a
spirit of cordial and mutual understanding," had led to a further clarification of the
Burmese and Chinese points of view and had brought the border problem nearer to a
solution.—(Burmese Government Information Department, Rangoon)
(Prev. rep. 14037 A.)
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