After workers in southern China began fleeing en masse to Vietnam in the hopes of better jobs and more freedom, the communist regime started building a wall to prevent further emigration in a move that is eerily reminiscent of the Berlin Wall that divided the German city during the Cold War.
Vietnamese authorities have also announced that they have begun to crack down on the increasing number of migrants entering the country, per Radio Free Asia. Officials have claimed that the immigrants, who are often based in Guangxi or the Yunnan province, often cross the border illegally on minor roads and paths to avoid detection.
In recent days, the Vietnam Public Security Border Bureau has reportedly arrested more than 100 stowaways in areas around the Chinese border, in addition to human traffickers. According to Kuo Hai-kuang, a Taiwanese businessman based in Binh Duong province, the stowaways will likely be held in custody before being fined and sent back to China.
“Vietnamese police don’t mess about,” he said. “They lock you up, investigate, then they drive you right back where you came from.”
The hundred detainees appear to be just a small number of those fleeing across the border. For example, a viral social media upload from October 20 showed around 1,000 migrants gathered at a checkpoint at the border in the hopes of crossing into Vietnam.
The emigration from China is a reversal in trends from earlier this decade. However, experts have pointed to the fact that factory work in southern China has stalled amidst an economy that may not be as strong as the CCP would have outsiders believe. In fact, recent reports have claimed the country’s economic growth is facing a 44 year low, per Reuters.
“At the very least, illegal migration to Vietnam shows that there aren’t that many opportunities in China,” noted Beijing resident Sun Yuchen. “It shows that the economy in mainland China is deteriorating.”
“Right now, Vietnam’s economic development is like Shenzhen back in the day,” added a Guangxi-based businessman. “It is probably much stronger than the open areas of mainland China.”
As a result, the CCP has started building a wall to keep residents from moving southward. Though exact details remain unverified, sources have claimed that the barricade would eventually cover the entire land border between the two countries.
That said, it is not just financial opportunity that appeals to migrants. Many of those leaving also hope to take advantage of the more democratic government in the neighboring nation.
“It’s not surprising that they are in such a hurry to build a wall along the Sino-Vietnamese border,” one Guangxi resident sarcastically explained. “It’s to prevent [Chinese citizens] from going astray and suffering all that freedom and democracy entails.”