border review | 24 August 2012

Impasse at China's southern borders

VietNamNet Bridge reports “abnormal phenomena” at the Mong Cai border crossing:

The Chinese authorities have taken a lot of enigmatic moves recently, thus leading to the stagnation of the cross-border trade.

Vietnamese workers on contracts with companies across the border in China complain that their salaries are being confiscated at the border. Traders observe tighter control and report the construction of armed inspection stations by the Chinese authorities along the border line. The verification of goods exported from Vietnam to China is taken much more seriously. Formerly unproblematic items in high demand, such as frozen seafood products, face difficulties at the customs.

Meanwhile, Vietnam’s Plant Protection Department has found pesticide residues in imported Chinese grapes that exceed Vietnam’s standards five times, according to tuoitrenews.

This could just be one of the frequent little trade disputes – were it not for similar developments elsewhere. In northern Burma traders complain about increased import tariffs at the Chinese border. The Irrawaddy quotes a local businessman:

The Chinese government has increased taxes on agricultural products, mining products, jade and jewelry, etc.

The tax for jade, for example, was rose from 15 to 33 percent, according to the same Irrawaddy report.

Last week, Human Rights Watch came forward with the claim that Kachin Refugees are forcibly sent back to Burma. And Mizzima News reports a joint Chinese-Thai raid busted a major amphetamine factory on the Burma-China border.

It seems that China’s southern border has entered a phase of crack-downs and tighter control.