China Closes Border With Burma

Thursday, April 2, 2020

China has implemented a complete shutdown of its border gates with Burma since April 1, local sources told NMG.

All border gates in northern Shan State’s Muse District, including Mang Weing, Sinphyu, Nandaw, Mang Hero, Jin San Jao and Kyugok (Panghsan) have been closed to cross-border travel, they said.

“Officials from both countries discussed it, then they shut down all border gates between Muse District and China,” Muse local Naw San said. “I think the Chinese authorities decided to close the border gates after Burma reported 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19.”

He added that information had been circulating that the border would only remain closed for 14 days, but that he had been also told that the closure period had yet to be determined.

The closure has affected the day laborers in Burma who rely on travel to China to find work.

“If we return to Burma, we must stay in Burma. We don’t exactly know how long it will be. If we exit from China, we are not allowed to go back to China,” Ah Bawk, who works across the border in Ruili in Yunnan, said. “In the past, we needed to get a permission stamp at the border gate every week. We won’t go to get the stamp, because if we do, they won’t allow us back into China.”

Migrant workers say that they have been told—unofficially—that those who overstay their allowance of time in China with their border passes will not be arrested by Chinese authorities.

“As of today, migrant workers have not been forced to return,” Bawk said. “I’ve heard that they won’t arrest people who overstayed during this period. But officials have not released any official statement. We have no choice. We are in a wait-and-see situation. I don’t know what will happen.”

Nobody has been allowed to enter China since April 1.

Locals in Muse said that trucks and their drivers are allowed to cross the border at Mang Weing and Jin San Jao border gates, but that they are totally closed to foot traffic. The announcement of this change was made via loudspeaker in Muse.

Chinese authorities have also shut the Loije border gate in Kachin State’s Bhamo District since April 1.

The first restrictions in Muse began on March 29.

Burma’s Ministry of Health and Sport reported that there are 16 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Burma. Among them, one patient has already died from the virus.