New Delhi: Indian officials say China is assisting rebel groups that have stepped up attacks on its border with Myanmar in recent months, opening another front in the conflict between two nations already engaged in a deadly standoff in the Himalayas.
Armed groups in Myanmar- including the United Wa State Army and the Arakan Army, which was a designated terrorist group this year – are acting as Beijing proxies by supplying weapons and providing hideouts to insurgent groups in India's North-eastern states, according to Indian officials with knowledge of the situation, who asked not to be identified due to rules for speaking with the media.
Multiple security agencies warned PM Modi's government that at least four of India's most wanted insurgent leaders were suspected to be in the Southern Chinese city of Kunming to train and source weapons in mid-October.
The group- including three ethnic Naga rebels fighting for a separate homeland in an area straddling the India-Myanmar border – met with acting and retired Chinese military officials as well as other middlemen who make up an informal network for working.
The friendly activity along the Myanmar border has sparked concern in New Delhi that India's military is becoming stretched as tensions remain fresh with China and Pakistan on other parts of its land border, which runs roughly 14,000 kilometres.
However, China's Foreign Ministry denied claims that the country was supporting armed groups against India. It said outright that China does not interfere in the affairs of other countries.
The Ministry said in a written response that, "China has always taken a prudent and responsible attitude toward arms export. We only conduct military trade in cooperation with sovereign states and do not sell arms to non-state actors."
The denial came from the United Wa State Army also. They denied providing any aid or support to Indian rebel groups on China's behalf.
The New Delhi officials said that those insurgents arrested in the Indo-Myanmar were supplied with weapons from the Arakan Army, which had received support from China.
Calls and Whatsapp messages to India's Ministry of Home Affairs requesting explanations went unanswered. Repeated efforts to contact senior members of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland, whose leaders were believed to have been in Kunming, were unsuccessful as well.
Both India and Myanmar are investing in Myanmar for strategic reasons. Beijing is investing in gas pipelines and roads to link its southern province of Yunnan with the Bay of Bengal.
It permits various imports through the Malacca Strait between Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.