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Govt adviser calls for ban on overland Chinese visitors

The China-Burma border crossing at Muse, northern Shan State. (Photo: DVB)

A Burmese government adviser has called for a ban on all cross-border travellers from China.

Khin Zaw, adviser to Minister for Hotels and Tourism Ohn Maung, told DVB that many of the Chinese who travel overland to Burma are illegally involved in businesses and trade.

“Some come here to work on construction sites, but most Chinese are coming to this country to do business,” he said. “However, they do not come on business visas. This will have a negative impact. We need to control those coming to Myanmar [Burma], and make sure they follow the rules.”

Chinese travelers do not require an official tourist visa or business visa to enter Burma by road, but are automatically issued a seven-day pass.

Khin Zaw noted that although thousands of Thais likewise cross the border by land to visit Burma, he had not heard of them becoming involved illegally in business or trade.

“That’s what I advised the union minister, and he will take the matter up with the relevant ministries,” said Khin Zaw.

Ohn Maung, Union minister for Hotels and Tourism, told journalists on 22 March that the Ministry of Defence did not allow border passes to Chinese travelers who intended to do business in Burma.

“For the Chinese, it is impossible. For the Thais, if they came from the Myawaddy border gate, they can go from there to Kyite Htee Yoe pagoda and they cannot go to other places,” he said.

Last year in Hpakant, a jade-rich town in Burma’s northernmost region, Kachin State, the township administration office issued an order that Chinese visitors register at their office upon arrival in the town.

Speaking to DVB on 23 March, Myint Kyaing, permanent secretary of the immigration ministry, said that his department had arrested a number of Chinese who were adjudged to be trading or doing business illegally.

According to Burma’s Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, tourist arrivals nationwide in January and February 2018 declined by five percent to 600,000, compared to 630,000 arrivals the year before.

“Travellers from the Chinese border have totalled 110,000 within two months. The Temporary Border Pass is just for six nights and seven days. I cannot say how many Chinese travellers have been arrested or have had action taken against them for illegal businesses. We have no data for that,” said Myo Win Nyunt, director of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

Chinese travellers entering Burma overland can do so legally from official border crossings at Muse, Chin Shwe Haw, Laukkai and Kem Pai Tee.