China strengthens border security targeting foreigners

Choi Song Min  |  2017-02-12 04:52
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The Chinese authorities are increasing surveillance directed at tourists, especially South Koreans, in the border areas between China and North Korea. According to a source, the measure is said to be in retaliation to South Korea's adoption of THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense), and is also intended to prevent information on border trade between China and North Korea leaking to the outside world.

"Recently, restrictions and crackdowns on travelers in the border areas have been significantly strengthened. At the entrances of villages in the border areas near the Tumen River including Kaishantun and Hualong of Longjiang City, border guard posts have been constructed and officers are conducting surveillance over the area and checking people in vehicles, a source close to North Korean affairs in China told Daily NK on February 6. 

"Even Chinese citizens have to state the purpose of their visits and their exact destination when traveling near the Tumen River or visiting relatives. The inspections are especially strict for South Koreans; they are first questioned at the border guard post and then handed over to Chinese police for further investigation."

According to the source, South Koreans taking taxis in the border areas have been abruptly stopped by officers, who ride together with them to the police station. At the station, they are interrogated about the purpose of their trip and final destination in a tense atmosphere while their luggage is scrutinized.

The same process applies for tourists staying at hotels. In the past, foreigners only had to fill in a registration paper at hotels but now the rule is to report names to the police. Police officers are then sent to the hotel to investigate the person and check their passport.

"Since early this year, employees in the tourism and hotel industry have been instructed to thoroughly report on all foreigners in the border area. If they don't report foreigners, they have to pay a fine," a separate source in the region said.

"As such, inspections of South Koreans are being conducted everywhere, on the roads and in every hotel in the town. The officers even go through their mobile phones during the interrogations. All private hotels have been instructed to adhere to the reporting system for South Koreans, and the travelers have to meet regional police officers before they can put down their luggage and rest.

Chinese public security forces are paying particular attention to electronic devices, which they are checking thoroughly, looking for photos of the border areas in mobile phones, USBs, and SD cards. Many locals are surmising that this is due to the fact that South Koreans sometimes take the photos of areas near customs offices or the riverside to publish on media platforms, with some positing that the measure is the result of frayed diplomatic Sino-South Korea relations following the latters decision to deploy THAAD.

*Translated by Yejie Kim
*Edited by Lee Farrand

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