Fear stalks land with abundance of natural resources

Updated: 2013-01-23 02:00

(China Daily)

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Bang! Bang! Two streams of smoke rose from the summit of the mountain behind the township of Nabang on Jan 17.

Meanwhile, tracers from anti-aircraft guns flashed in the air. Residents thronged the streets, asking each other "Did you see the aircraft?"

Fear stalks land with abundance of natural resources 

Students recite stories in the Je Yang Hka refugee camp in Myanmar. More than 7,000 refugees live in the camp.  [PHOTOS BY CUI MENG / CHINA DAILY]

This is not make-believe. It was the scene during an air raid by the Myanmar military on the autonomous state of Kachin in northern Myanmar. The state, which borders Yingjiang county in Yunnan province, is rich in jade, timber and minerals. In Laiza, the headquarters of the rebel Kachin Independence Army, residents have dug bomb shelters close to their houses and camouflaged them with pieces of bamboo.

Nabang has been badly affected since June 2011 as the violence has deterred visitors and resulted in a reduction in business.

"In the past four months, we have heard explosions every day. In the beginning, the blasts were pretty far away, but now they occur just behind the mountains. The conflict has stopped most of the trade with Kachin because no one wants to risk their life by coming here," said Xie Junchen, the manager of the Qixi Jade Store in Nabang, who has imported Myanmar jade into China for 10 years.

Kachin is a place Xie has to pass through on her trips between Myanmar and Nabang. During the first four years, her business boomed in tandem with the soaring price of jade.

However, her income has fallen along with the number of buyers since the latest round of battles between the Myanmar military and the KIA started in June 2011.

"My store has jade worth 1 million yuan ($161,000) and I can't move away. But, if it weren't for the business, my family wouldn't stay here, because we are worried that the bombs might fall on my store one day," she said.

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