China Closes Myanmar Border to Stop COVID-19 Returning

By Zarni Mann 24 April 2020

Mandalay – China has ordered a 60-day closure of all border checkpoints with Myanmar on Thursday, as the confirmed cases of COVID 19 rose to 139.

The order from the Yunnan Province government said all kinds of travel between Myanmar were banned and Chinese citizens would not be allowed to cross the border until June 24.

“The order came from the Yunnan government to control the coronavirus spread. Chinese police and soldiers will be deployed at border checkpoints for security. All travel not involving trade will be suspended and the order could be extended, depending on the COVID-19 situation in Myanmar,” said an official from the Muse Township administration office on the border.

Anyone trying to cross the border illegally faces prison terms and rewards of 1,000 yuan (202,000 kyats) were being offered to anyone apprehending Myanmar citizens trying to cross the border illegally, the source said.

“The order applies to all of the border checkpoints in Shan and Kachin states. If Chinese citizens break the law and try to leave Myanmar with the virus, they will face more severe punishments,” the official said.

There are about 11 border checkpoints with China, including at Kampaiti and Lweje in Kachin State and Muse, Mongkoe, Mongla, Pang Hseng and Pang Kham in Shan State.

According to the official, the order only aims to suspend travel and not affect trade, especially the trade center at Ruili-Muse in northern Shan State.

“Trucks loaded with commodities can cross the border, however, the Burmese driver has to leave the trucks between the checkpoints. The Chinese drivers will pick up the trucks, unload the commodities and hand the trucks back to the Burmese drivers to reduce the contact,” said U Sai Myint Bo, the chairman of the fruit wholesale center at Muse.

According to traders, there are fears of delays transferring goods due to the need to reduce contact.

“Since traders from both sides cannot cross the border, they are seeking help from the Chinese brokers. They are expecting some delays but the trade will not be affected greatly,” U Sai Myint Bo added.

While border trade has declined because of COVID-19, fruit is still being exported to China and fabric, fertilizers, medicines, protective equipment such as masks and sanitizers are being imported from China through Muse.

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