Over 40,000 scam suspects in Myanmar handed over to China in 2023, state media reports

Over 40,000 scam suspects in Myanmar handed over to China in 2023, state media reports
Over 40,000 scam suspects in Myanmar handed over to China in 2023, state media reports

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Online fraud compounds have flourished in Myanmar’s borderlands, staffed by citizens from China and other countries who are often trafficked and forced to work swindling their compatriots. — iStock pic

BEIJING, Jan 5 — More than 40,000 people suspected of taking part in cyber scams in Myanmar were handed over to China last year, Beijing state media said Friday.

Online fraud compounds have flourished in Myanmar’s borderlands, staffed by citizens from China and other countries who are often trafficked and forced to work swindling their compatriots.

The scams anger Beijing, a major ally of Myanmar’s junta, and China has repeatedly told the military to crack down on the industry, which analysts say is worth billions of dollars a year.

“Since August, the number of telecommunications internet fraud cases has continuously declined, and crackdown and control work has achieved outstanding results,” state broadcaster CCTV said.

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“With energetic cooperation of all parties in Myanmar, a total of 41,000 telecommunications internet fraud suspects were handed over to us in 2023,” said CCTV, without offering details of their nationalities.

The report added that China’s Ministry of Public Security had “cracked down heavily on fraud-related criminal gangs that provided illegal services such as online promotion, money laundering, technology development, and organisation of illegal migration for overseas fraud groups”.

In November, Myanmar’s junta said it has arrested two cyber scam ringleaders operating from a lawless northern town and wanted by China, and a third took his own life during the arrest.

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The United Nations said last year that at least 120,000 people could be trapped in scam compounds in Myanmar.

In October, an armed alliance of ethnic minority groups launched an offensive against the military across a swathe of northern Shan state, on China’s southern border.

The resumed conflict has spurred concerns in Beijing, which on Thursday voiced “strong dissatisfaction” that fighting had caused Chinese casualties, following reports an artillery shell had exploded after crossing the border.

The statement came from a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, without specifying how many people had been killed or wounded in the incident.

The ethnic alliance in Myanmar has seized several towns and border hubs vital for trade with China in what analysts say is the biggest military challenge to the junta since it seized power in 2021.

Last month, Beijing said it had mediated talks between the Myanmar military and the allied ethnic armed groups and reached an agreement for a “temporary ceasefire”.

However, clashes have continued in parts of Shan state, and China’s embassy last week asked its citizens to evacuate an area along the border owing to security risks. — AFP

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