Border Dispute Arises Over Mysterious Trench in Namkham


Locals and authorities in Namkham, northern Shan State, have been puzzled following an incident where four men—believed to be Chinese nationals—dug a ditch on the Burmese side of the border overnight. 

2019 10 18 Nam Kham 1
Photo by –  Namkham villager

The digging occurred in Nawng Kham village, 60 feet from the Burma-China border, on the night of October 9. 

“They dug a ditch with a bulldozer all night,” Sai Aung Win, who works with Namkham’s Social Unity Association, told SHAN of the four men, who he said were wearing civilian clothing and not uniforms. 

Namkham Township General Administration Department officers came to observe the situation and informed the Office of External Affairs on the Chinese side of the border, in Ruili. 

No one was able to explain why the ditch was being dug. 

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Namkham Township elders, political party representatives from the Shan Nationalities Democratic party, and members of various civil society organizations released a joint statement calling on the Union government to observe the situation on the ground in the area and resolve any border issues. 

Disputes along the Burma-China border are common, and have occurred in Muse and Panghsai, as well as in Namkham Township in the past. 

SHAN repeatedly reached out to Namkham Township GAD officer Tun Thein Aung by phone. A poor telecommunications connection meant that an interview was not possible.