09/30/2023, 15.00
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China promises to fight online fraud (but for its own strategic interests)

Provincial authorities in Yunnan have set up a restricted zone as of tomorrow to limit human trafficking. In Myanmar, the ruling junta slams a Chinese film on crime syndicates that paints Myanmar in a bad light. The authorities in the two countries continue to work on railways connecting China to the Indian Ocean.

Yangon (AsiaNews) – The authorities in Yunnan, a province in southwestern China, have announced a restricted zone near the border with Myanmar to stop human trafficking, a problem that afflicts people in China and across Southeast Asia.

Through fake online ads offering jobs and promising love, people are tricked to travel to Myanmar where they end up in modern slavery working as phone operators, computer programmers, and other jobs as part of online scams.

Starting tomorrow until the end of the year, Tengchong, a county-level city on the border with Kachin State, will control the entry of people and vehicles in order to monitor cross-border traffic.

China has been trying to prevent its citizens from falling victim to human trafficking for some time. To this end, in several Chinese cities, police are telling residents to block all unknown incoming overseas calls.

China has also pledged to work with Laos and Thailand to fight regional crime groups.

Earlier this month, China’s Ministry of Public Security announced that a joint operation with Myanmar took down 11 criminal bases in the northern part of that country, with 269 fraud suspects detained, including 186 Chinese nationals who have been repatriated.

China has called on Myanmar’s military junta, which seized power in February 2021 in a coup, to crack down on criminal gangs active along their common border; however, regular law enforcement has been hampered by the civil war that began more than two years ago.

Meanwhile, Myanmar’s military rulers, who depend on China for military supplies, are irked by the success of the movie that paints a negative portrait of its fight against human trafficking.

Titled "No More Bets”, the Chinese thriller relays the story of a computer programmer who is trafficked to Southeast Asia and is forced to work as an online scammer.

Although no particular country is mentioned, the setting looks like northern Myanmar, and Myanmar representatives in China have expressed concern about it.

“The storylines are related to Myanmar and there are reports that Chinese nationals are worried about visiting Myanmar,” said Myanmar’s consul general in Nanning, a city in south-western China.

Released in August, the movie grossed about 3.8 billion yuan (US$ 520 million), the third most popular feature film this year in China.

In reality, in the past two years, Beijing has continued to finance not only Myanmar’s junta, but also some ethnic militias, in particular the United Wa State Army (UWSA), which operates along the border and is involved in serious illegal trafficking.

Chinese support for UWSA is meant to prevent the outbreak of unrest along the borders and allow Chinese companies to carry out their infrastructure projects, but in so doing, Beijing is fuelling the civil war.

Recently, Myanmar Deputy Prime Minister Mya Tun Oo attended a transport forum in Beijing to discuss train links between southern China and Mandalay and Rakhine State, which would provide China with access to the Indian Ocean.

The railway project is part of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, which in turn is part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Thus, through the port of Kyaukphyu, Rakhine, Chinese goods could bypass the Strait of Malacca.

Mya Tun Oo, who is also the regime's transport minister, visited the headquarters of China Railway Group and discussed a feasibility study for railway routes.

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