Ij reportika Logo

800 Chinese deported from Myanmar’s Thai border

More than 800 Chinese nationals were deported from near Myanmar’s border with Thailand in relation to online fraud, according to China’s Ministry of Public Security.

The group was deported Wednesday from Myawaddy’s infamous gambling and scam center, Shwe Kokko, in Myanmar’s Kayin state through neighboring Thailand, the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

Scam centers have plagued the border areas of Thailand, Myanmar and China as nationals from all three countries are tricked into – and subsequently enslaved in – online fraud. Tens of thousands of Chinese nationals were deported from Myanmar in 2023 by both junta and rebel army officials for their roles in both perpetuating and being trapped in criminal schemes. Many are linked to forced labor, human trafficking and money laundering, which proliferated after COVID-19 shut down casinos across Southeast Asia.

A resident in Myawaddy told Radio Free Asia that the gambling businesses in Myawaddy should be eradicated.

“The [Chinese nationals] have been repatriated through Thailand as they were illegally staying in Shwe Kokko. They kept saying that [authorities] are continuously sending them back,” he said, declining to be named given the issue’s sensitivity. 

“There are still gambling businesses in Myawaddy. The [big] gambling business split off and many small ones appeared in the city center. They are still there.”

Since March 2023, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security has been cooperating with Myanmar and Thai authorities on the border to crack down on transnational communication network fraud and online gambling activities. The 800 Chinese nationals were linked to an online money laundering gang, according to the statement.

The details of the repatriation could not be confirmed by RFA. The arrests were a result of the long-term trilateral cooperation between China, Myanmar and Thailand, it continued.

According to Myanmar junta-backed media, 52,820 foreigners, including 50,772 Chinese nationals, were repatriated from Oct. 5, 2023 to March 6, 2024.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Kiana Duncan and Mike Firn.