Eleven businessmen from Myanmar’s Shan state were reportedly arrested while visiting China’s Yunnan province over the weekend, according to traders based on the border.
Among them are local officials from the Kokang Self-Administered Zone.
Liu Zhengxiang, the director of the Laukkaing-based Fully Light Group, was also arrested. Along with Liu’s connections to the Kokang Border Guard Force, the director is also allegedly involved in online gambling across the country.
Fully Light Group, a multi-sector conglomerate working in jewels, tourism, and rubber, is the largest business in Laukkaing.
On Sept. 30, about 30 businessmen from Kokang, Laukkaing and Chinshwehaw cities attended a Chinese trade fair in the Lincang district of Yunnan province.
The police arrived at the hotel where they were staying and targeted the most well-known businessmen, said a border-based merchant, asking to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals.
“Nothing happened on the first day of the trade fair on September 30. They were arrested in their hotel where they were staying on the second day,” the man told Radio Free Asia.
“Big businessmen from Laukkaing, in other words the wealthy businessmen, were taken.”
Laukkaing junta spokesperson and economic minister Khun Thein Maung told RFA he did not know the specifics of the most recent arrests in Yunnan province.
RFA contacted the Chinese Embassy in Yangon and the Myanmar Consulate in Kunming via email, but received no response at the time of publication.
Arrests of Chinese nationals living in Myanmar increased sharply last month. An official from the Kokang Self-Administered Zone confirmed on Sept. 28 that authorities detained 377 Chinese nationals who were living illegally in Laukkaing city.
The area is a well-known hotspot for fraudulent online businesses, human trafficking and casinos. The official told RFA those arrested last month are being interrogated in relation to online money laundering in Laukkaing.
The United Wa State Army also arrested more than 1,300 Chinese nationals in relation to online money laundering schemes last month and handed them over to Chinese authorities at the border.
Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn.