Over 100 Chinese Migrant Workers Detained for Illegally Entering Vietnam

October 29, 2020 Updated: October 29, 2020

Vietnamese border authorities recently detained more than 100 Chinese migrant workers who were being smuggled over to Vietnam from Guangxi, an autonomous region in southern China, bordering Vietnam. Meanwhile, netizens claim that Beijing is building a wall along the China-Vietnam border to prevent the illegal smuggling of migrant workers. 

Unemployment is a major issue for China due to a large number of foreign companies and investments leaving the country. An increasing number of Chinese workers are looking for jobs in neighboring countries, but many of them cross the border illegally. 

On Oct. 25, Vietnamese border authorities caught two groups of Chinese workers who had illegally entered the country from Guangxi. The Public Security Border Bureau of Lang Son Province in northern Vietnam arrested 76 Chinese nationals, and the Hejing Province Border Bureau of Vietnam detained 25 Chinese nationals, according to Vietnamese media outlets. 

During the interrogation, the detainees revealed that they were originally working in Guangdong but they lost their jobs—since the beginning of 2019, many foreign companies left the Chinese province and relocated to Vietnam, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported on Oct. 28. When the workers learned that their companies had moved to Vietnam, they planned to come to Da Nang in Vietnam to find jobs, the report said. 

RFA interviewed Guo Haiguang, the head of a Taiwanese business group in Binh Duong Province, Vietnam. He said that since last year, many mainland Chinese have smuggled workers into Vietnam to find employment. 

“In recent years, more people have moved here from the north, smuggled across the border from the small roads. They crossed the border mainly from Guangxi, and some have come from Yunnan,” he said.

Guo told RFA in the interview that foreign companies generally do not hire illegal immigrants, but the small factories owned by the Chinese in Vietnam may hire them. 

“Others don’t dare, only the mainland Chinese are more bold, but they are not big companies, just small companies,” he said. It is believed that those Chinese companies in Vietnam are recruiting illegal Chinese migrant workers to save on labor costs.

RFA cited Chinese social media account “Things in Vietnam” on Tencent Weibo, which reported another incident of Chinese illegal migrant workers being arrested. According to the post, Lang Son Public Security and the local traffic police team worked together to arrest 20 workers from Guangxi who entered Vietnam illegally and three Vietnamese drivers who helped them. Two of the drivers tested positive for drugs.

A netizen posted a video on Twitter that shows nearly 1,000 Chinese technicians at the China-Vietnam Border Friendship Pass in Guangxi on Oct. 20. They were en route to Vietnam to find jobs. 

Netizens revealed that Beijing is building a concrete wall along the China-Vietnam border to prevent Chinese citizens from crossing over illegally. The China-Vietnam land border is about 807 miles (1,300 kilometers) long. According to a netizen who posted a video on Twitter, the wall (about six-feet high) will be built along the entire border. 

Renowned economist He Qinglian wrote in a recent article that for decades, up until 2019, it was the Vietnamese workers sneaking into China to find jobs; but since the Chinese economy has been deteriorating rapidly this year, the situation has changed. 

She said that the reversed illegal immigration between China and Vietnam shows that China’s economic prosperity has faded, the investment environment has deteriorated, and it is no longer the “the world’s factory” as more and more companies are leaving the country—part of the major global shift in manufacturing that is currently happening. 

A businessman from Guangxi, surnamed Chen, told RFA in an interview, “The economic development of Vietnam is like Shenzhen back then … so the trend of labor flow towards Vietnam is basically inevitable.”