The live-fire drills of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in Southwest China's Yunnan Province near the Myanmar border on Tuesday serves as a warning to both the Myanmar government and ethnic militias that their conflict should not cross over to China, Chinese experts said.
The exercises, part of the training for army units of the PLA's Southern Theater Command, aims to test the military's capabilities, including mobilization, maneuvers and joint strikes, the Xinhua News Agency reported. Planes, artillery, air defense, infantry, missile and radar units are part of the exercises.
The drills come as the conflict between the Myanmar government and ethnic militias in northern Myanmar continues.
"The exercises are the result of extensive preparations rather than a snap decision, which reflects China's stance against war spilling over the border," Zhu Zhenming, a professor at the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.
The Myanmar government and armed ethnic groups should make sure the conflict stays within their territory, Zhu said, adding that China cannot tolerate others destroying people's lives and property, which is the bottom line.
"The drills showcased that the PLA is capable of protecting Chinese people," he said.
Innocent Chinese civilians near the border have been suffering from their stray bullets.
"The drills also serve as a warning to other neighboring and nearby countries as well, such as Vietnam and India, that China will not tolerate behavior that threatens its border security," Zhu said.
Xinhua reported that China had given Myanmar advance notice of the exercises, which means "China does not plan to attack Myanmar," Zhu said.
Song Qingrun, a research fellow at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times that he believes the drill is absolutely not a military showoff to Myanmar, given that it is a normal live-fire drill that many nations would do regularly in borders.
China has urged all parties for restraint, avoid escalating the conflict and take effective measures to resume peace and stability in the border area, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said on March 9.