China freezes Myanmar accounts over gambling


Ruili City, Yunnan, China. Photo: Wikipedia

China has temporarily frozen accounts of Myanmar traders as part of investigations into gambling in Southwest China's Yunnan Province, officials said Tuesday.

However, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told a daily briefing on Tuesday that the investigations will not affect legitimate cross-border trade.

Geng said China and Myanmar are working closely together to crack down on cross-border crimes and will continue to communicate to maintain order along the border. 

Geng's remarks come after Myanmar media reported that China froze more than 1,000 bank accounts belonging to 100 Myanmar traders, with estimated deposits of 40 billion kyat ($27.2 million). 

Traders from both countries are required to cooperate with ongoing investigations, and some Chinese and Myanmar traders' bank accounts have been temporarily frozen, according to a Monday statement sent from the Chinese Embassy in Myanmar.

China will coordinate with Myanmar to resolve the issue as soon as possible, said the statement. 

The freeze began on June 14. Although bank accounts of money changers and bean, rice and sugar traders have been blocked in the past, it has never been done on such a large scale, Myanmar news portal elevenmyanmar.com reported.

The Myanmar Times reported on Tuesday that the Agriculture Bank of China had frozen the traders' bank accounts in Southwest China's Yunnan Province.

Authorities in Ruili, Yunnan met with the traders and set up a temporary office at the Ruili branch of the Agricultural Bank of China on Sunday to collect the traders' bank account information, the Myanmar Golden Phoenix newspaper reported.

"Such incidents have happened before, and in most cases, traders' bank accounts were frozen for suspected involvement in gambling or underground banks that illegally transfer money. Some traders in Ruili and Muse had their accounts frozen during investigations into the export subsidy fraud," a Chinese businesswoman who runs a company in Myanmar told the Global Times on Tuesday.

The Chinese government has placed many bank accounts opened by Myanmar traders on the watch list, she said on condition of anonymity.

Kyaw Win Khaing, a Chinese-born Myanmar national who is selling Myanmar jade in Ruili, told the Global Times that the bank account of relatives who ran an underground bank was frozen, and their underground bank has been closed. 

Some Myanmar accounts were also frozen two months ago after drugs were allegedly found on a school bus near the border, the Myanmar Times reported.

Courtesy Global Times

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