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[Series] #1 Le Yunnan, Chinese police operating base in Myanmar

[Series] #1 Le Yunnan, Chinese police operating base in Myanmar

This series aims to describe the increase in Chinese police presence in Southeast Asia.. We start with Myanmar. Other countries like Laos and Thailand will follow.

Myanmar, spot Chinese fraudsters and criminals online

These last months, the Chinese media are rave. Between September and October, 2 349 suspects of “internet fraud” [Telephone fraud] were handed over to Chinese authorities by Burmese police.

Ce “success”, illustrated by a number of videos and photos in Chinese newspapers, interrogates. The nationality of the accused is never specified. Are they Chinese nationals, or simply Burmese of Chinese origin ? The media does not specify. Why doesn't Myanmar try them in its own courts?, under the principle of territorial jurisdiction of judges ? And finally, why this jubilation on the part of the official media ?

The operations leading to these series of extraterritorial arrests go back a long way. Already in 2017, la province du Yunnan (Chine) laid the foundation stone of police cooperation with its border neighbors, and in particular Myanmar with the founding of a “Lancang-Mekong Global Security and Law Enforcement Cooperation Center”. Goal displayed: fight against online fraud [Telephone fraud].

Sign of the importance given to this institution, its president is also Member of the Disciplinary Inspection Commission of the Ministry of Public Security

This “online fraud” (Telephone fraud) is a catch-all concept that covers both “games of chance, the fraud (vol), et derivative offenses such as human trafficking, kidnappings and illegal detention”, according to Chinese official media. Portmanteau words are frequently used in official Chinese communication, as in the case of the fight against mafias, in order to make their results figures more impressive.

The situation which gives rise to this increase in the Chinese police presence among its neighbors is worrying. Many Chinese nationals are victims of human trafficking, forced prostitution, racket, disappearance or even assassination after “online scammers” lured them to Burmese territory via the internet. This territory, badly organized, poorly directed, constitutes an ideal refuge for these fraudsters – and in particular its northern part (Northern Myanmar).

This human trafficking goes both ways. Many Burmese women have been kidnapped and forced into marriage to Chinese farmers, as reported in this survey the Nikkei. Victims of the bloody ethnic conflicts that punctuate the country, they are vulnerable targets for traffickers.

The criminal phenomenon is becoming so widespread that it 25 July , when the Chinese ambassador to Myanmar, Chen Hai, met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar, Than Sui, they came to one conclusion: their common will “to eradicate the cancer of gambling fraud in Myanmar and bring mafia forces and organized crime to justice” [source: Yangzi Evening News].

A report on victims of Myanmar fraudsters forced into prostitution

The criminal reputation of the Chinese in Myanmar is proverbial : the Chinese from this country even tend to hide their origin. On the Red Star News media, a woman testifies : ” We returned to our village, in Sichuan. We were asked where we were coming from, and we answered : “you Myanmar.” We clearly felt that the other villagers who were smiling earlier changed their expressions.. Some of them even started avoiding us“.

And many testimonies are to match, testifying again heavy Burmese liabilities in the eyes of the Chinese of Yunnan, a province victim of trafficking of all kinds, kidnappings and pimping which are rooted in the famous “triangle d’or” border.

Chinese police infiltrate Myanmar

To shake this sanctuary of fraud in China, the police did not just agree with their neighbor.

China follows the example of the Qingtian police stations, Ouhai, and overall Wenzhou who build “bridges” in Europe to act directly on site via intermediaries. Ici, for Myanmar, it is the province of Yunnan which is requested, and in particular its capital, Kunming [Kunming], as well as the towns of Pu'er [Pu'er], de Lincan [Lincang] et de Xishuangbanna [Xishuangbanna Prefecture] all three of whom are at the border.

China's ascendancy is stronger over Myanmar than over European countries, Chinese police involvement is naturally more significant there.

Thereby, joint border police operations are regularly organized. But Yunnan also sends “workgroups” police directly in the area, in Burmese territory. These police “working groups” realize directly extraterritorial police operations. The 27 august 2023, for instance, and “Zhejiang working group” traveled to Myanmar to “escorts” 5 fraudsters as far as China. [27 august 2023].

The 5 fraudsters in question

Chinese provincial governments do not hesitate to issue wanted notices public, with bonuses, for some “fugitives” or criminals suspected of operating from Myanmar, with supporting photos. The information is therefore directly given to the Chinese police, who is responsible for intervening subsequently.

This direct and assumed infiltration of China into Myanmar, although rarely specified, is facilitated by its dominant position vis-à-vis its neighbor.

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Myanmar suffers from a troubled political situation, and some of its regions are in insurrection against the central power. This concerns in particular the “pays Wa” [Wa State – Wa Bang].

Fact, China cultivates a special relationship with the Wa country, which corresponds to a buffer zone with Myanmar and its numerous troubles and trafficking of all kinds. “The Wa are one of the least known populations in Asia although their number is estimated at 800,000 in Burma (Shan State) and 400,000 in China (Yunnan)” [Conflicts and opium trafficking in the Triangle d’or (International issues no 11 – January February 2005) by Pierre-Arnaud Chouvy].

Map showing the territory “Of” in dark yellow, and Yunnan in gray.

China has largely armed the Wa resistance against the Burmese central authority, providing helicopters and anti-aircraft missiles. She uses it as an advanced police base in Burmese country., as well as as an instrument of pressure on the central authority of Myanmar. To give an idea of ​​Chinese influence on this piece of territory in Myanmar, let us cite the case of Bao Yanban, the former minister “of urban construction” from the Wa country. After having been accused by China to protect online fraud networks, he was simply removed from his position and his military rank.

CCP Official Notice Issued Against Wa Country Minister (Myanmar), Bao Yanban.

Why China wants to employ its own police force in Myanmar?

First and foremost, China considers that the use of extraterritorial force is the first sign of great power. She draws inspiration from her own story, as well as the example of the United States. Mainstream films, like Wolf Warrior 2, express unequivocally this Chinese will.

Ensuite, China wants to deal directly with its nationals wherever they are, and whether or not they are of Chinese nationality. This last point is important. From the point of view of the Chinese police, nationals and foreign citizens of Chinese ancestry must depend on it. Thereby, China encourages foreigners of Chinese ancestry to “surrender voluntarily” in the event of a violation of Chinese law, in exchange for a more lenient judgment than that which their country of origin would inflict on them, and who would shelter them under the principle of “not twice in the same“.

Finally, as explained Head of the Lancang-Mekong Global Security and Law Enforcement Cooperation Center, this Chinese police deployment within the Burmese units should provide security for the new Silk Roads project. The passage of the Yunnan-Myanmar line should help revitalize this Chinese province, one of the poorest in the country [Wilson Center].

With the kind proofreading of Lily Grumbach.

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