China has been strengthening entry restrictions into the country from Myanmar, sources familiar with the matter told Kyodo News Monday, as political confusion has been increasing in the Southeast Asian nation following February's coup.
Chinese authorities have started to prohibit Myanmar people from staying at hotels and sometimes detained them, the sources said, highlighting Beijing's concern that the social turmoil in the neighbor will spill over to the country.
The Chinese Communist-led government has refrained from condemning Myanmar's military coup, unlike Japan, the United States and the European Union, as it has traditionally tried to deepen ties with the neighbor in the economic and security fields.
However, the leadership of President Xi Jinping has apparently become worried that a possible huge influx of refugees from Myanmar would deteriorate the security situation in China, the sources added.
Myanmar is located right on the path of China's strategic plan to get direct access to the Indian Ocean as part of Beijing's "Belt and Road" project for the development of infrastructure and trade across Asia, Europe and Africa.
China has also put emphasis on economic and security relations with Myanmar, as it has imported natural resources such as gas and crude oil through pipes from the neighbor.
The sources in Ruili in Yunnan Province, China's southwestern border city with Myanmar, said China's security authorities in mid and late February ordered accommodation facilities there not to allow Myanmar citizens to use them.
Earlier this year, hotels in the city were available for Myanmar nationals, although the Chinese government stepped up measures to curb the intrusion of the novel coronavirus from the Southeast Asian country, the sources said.
A source related to a hotel in Ruili said a person from Myanmar was recently detained after checking in with a Myanmarese who has long lived in China, saying, "Once we return to Myanmar, we cannot come back to China due to strict restrictions."
In Ruili, tight security has been in place near the border with Myanmar, and some roads have been closed. Chinese authorities have also arrested several Myanmarese people who attempted to protest leader Aung San Suu Kyi's detention by the military junta.