Lianhe Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan notes that while the recent live-fire drills by China’s Southern Theater Command at the China-Myanmar border is aimed at testing the PLA’s capabilities, it is evidently a form of warning to all sides involved in the war in northern Myanmar. Some are even supporting the idea of Chinese military deployment across the border to tackle the serious, long-term issues of smuggling, drug trafficking and telecommunications fraud in northern Myanmar.
It seems that scam operators, not least the “four big families” of northern Myanmar or Kokang, are being put on notice in Northern Myanmar. Skirmishes between the Brotherhood Alliance armed forces and the junta are helping to ferret out these organisations. Given that Kokang borders China, the animosity between the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and the junta government will test how China strikes a balance between them.
In an unexpected twist, the warring groups in Myanmar’s civil war have a unified goal: combating cybercrime and ingratiating themselves with China.
Lianhe Zaobao journalist Daryl Lim steps into the world of scam syndicates and scam hubs in Southeast Asia, particularly Myanmar, which is one centre of activity. How can the authorities clean up the industry so that tourists — especially from China — will return and boost the recovery of the tourism industry?
Cybercrime scams and the related kidnappings have exploded since 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent economic downturn fuelled the number of such crimes, including fake online romantic ploys, bogus investment pitches and illegal gambling schemes. Scam centres were concentrated in Cambodia, but have now been found in Laos and Myanmar, and at least four other Asian countries have become human trafficking hubs.
The recent 15th BRICS summit held in South Africa heralded an expanded organisation with new African members. While China seeks to increase its presence and influence on the African continent, it also faces the difficult task of juggling security and development, particularly given that Russia is likewise adamant about safeguarding and expanding its own interests in the area.
While members of the “Fujian gang” have made the news recently for their billion-dollar money-laundering case, less is known about their lavish lifestyles and the trails their clandestine activities leave behind. Zaobao senior correspondent Poh Lay Hoon reports.
At least half of the Chinese men who were recently charged in a billion-dollar money-laundering probe in Singapore are from Anxi — a province in Fujian known for producing tea but is now frequently linked to its involvement in scams. Lianhe Zaobao correspondent Chen Jing visits the county to find out how prevalent fraudulent activities are and the impact on its locals.
Illicit nominations of Thais as shareholders in businesses run by Chinese operators are threatening local concerns. This highlights a dense network of transnational criminal activity that the Thai authorities are up against.