China Reportedly Fortifies Southwestern Border to Keep Citizens From Fleeing

December 15, 2020 Updated: December 16, 2020

The Chinese regime is reportedly building structures at its borders with Vietnam and Burma, as an influx of its citizens seeks to flee to southeast Asia in search of economic opportunities.

China–Burma Border

China and Burma (also known as Myanmar) share a roughly 1,258-mile border, including about 191 miles that aren’t clearly defined. Especially in Yunnan Province, the border splits many villages, and even streets, leaving family members as residents of different countries.

For centuries, there was no border wall separating the countries. In recent decades, both regimes have mandated that citizens must apply for a pass to travel back and forth legally. But many parts of the border have no walls or barriers, so people have easily crossed over.

On Dec. 12, the ethnic Chinese insurgency group Burma Kokang posted on its official Twitter account two photos that it claims are photos of the Chinese government constructing a barbed wire fence at the border. Several armed groups have been operating in the country for decades.

The group says the first phase of the project—a 410-mile stretch—has been completed, while the second phase will be finished by the end of next year, and the third phase done by October 2022. Chinese authorities will install high-voltage fencing in areas where illegal crossings are common, while surveillance cameras and infrared alarm systems will be installed all along the border.

The Epoch Times couldn’t independently verify the information.

Epoch Times Photo
Food trucks wait to enter China near Muse, close to the Chinese border in Shan state, Burma, on April 20, 2020. (PHYO MAUNG MAUNG/AFP via Getty Images)

China–Vietnam Border

China and Vietnam share a 796-mile border, which is separated by low partitions.

In October, locals shared videos online, reportedly showing parts of the Chinese regime’s new wall structure at the border, which stands more than two meters (6.56 feet) tall.

Some Chinese and Taiwanese entrepreneurs said they believe the Chinese regime has put the structures in place to prevent Chinese from leaving the country in search of jobs, as more and more multinational firms have moved their production lines out of China and into Vietnam or other Southeast Asian countries.

A manufacturing exodus out of China and into Southeast Asia began last year as Chinese wages increased and U.S. trade war tariffs loomed.

Guo Haiguang, head of a Taiwanese business group in Binh Duong Province, Vietnam, told Radio Free Asia (RFA) in October that more and more Chinese workers were trying to sneak into Vietnam because they couldn’t find a job in their home country.

Chen, a Chinese entrepreneur in Guangxi Province, told RFA: “My friends closed their factories in China, and opened new ones in Vietnam. They told all technicians in the closed Chinese factories that they would pay the same salary or even higher if they [the workers] could smuggle into Vietnam.”

Because the Vietnamese government limits working visas for Chinese workers, many who are unable to obtain a working visa choose to work illegally in Vietnam.

Legal immigrant workers enter Vietnam via the China–Vietnam Border Friendship Pass in Guangxi Province.

Epoch Times Photo
A man works at a construction site of a residential skyscraper in Shanghai on Nov. 29, 2016. (JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)

As export orders have dried up amid the pandemic, and as China’s economy continues its downturn, many Chinese have become unemployed.

The Chinese regime doesn’t issue reliable unemployment data, so it’s difficult to know the true scale of China’s unemployment crisis. But the issue is alarming enough that Beijing’s top officials warned about its effects and announced policies to alleviate it.

A Chinese dissident remarked on Twitter: “There’s only one country in the world [China] that would build walls to prevent its people from fleeing the country.”