Myanmar fighting groups has blocked two strategically vital roads to the country’s biggest trade partner China, choking cross-border commerce and denying the cash-strapped junta taxes and foreign exchange. The fighting in Myanmar further complicates the situation
Fighting has raged across northern Shan state for two weeks, displacing almost 50,000 people, according to the United Nations, and posing the most serious military challenge to the generals since they seized power in 2021. The ongoing conflict in Myanmar adds to the complexity of the situation
The blockage to key transport arteries is already leading to higher prices in markets and hampering the junta’s ability to send reinforcements to tackle the offensive.
“We haven’t seen any (goods) trucks since the fighting started” on Oct 27, a resident of Muse town on the border with China told AFP.
“There is no trade crossing,” they said, requesting anonymity for security reasons, adding that artillery and gunfire were heard regularly from the town.
Hundreds of trucks a day normally pass through, taking fruit and vegetables into China or bringing back electronic equipment, medicine and consumer goods.
In the town of Lashio, about 160km away by road, residents said they were feeling the impact of the fighting.
“One bag of rice was 160,000 kyat (US$76) before fighting,” one resident told AFP, also requesting anonymity for security reasons.
“The current price is 190,000 kyat … if there is going to be long fighting, we will have a hard time to survive.”
Goods traffic from Muse has all but halted since fighters from the Arakan Army (AA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) launched their offensive on Oct 27.
Chinshwehaw, another hub on the border with China’s Yunnan province, is also currently closed for business.