Chinese province offers cash to locals to capture illegal immigrants from Russia

Health officials say 409 imported infections are Chinese citizens returning from Russia

A staff member wearing a face mask  at the Suifenhe Port in Heilongjiang province on the border with Russia. Photograph: Yew Lun Tian/Reuters

A staff member wearing a face mask at the Suifenhe Port in Heilongjiang province on the border with Russia. Photograph: Yew Lun Tian/Reuters

 

China is offering cash rewards to local residents to track down and apprehend illegal immigrants coming across the Russian border, as the country intensifies efforts to stave off a second wave of coronavirus infections.

The epidemic command centre in the northastern province of Heilongjiang, which borders Russia, set up a hotline and is offering a reward of 3,000 yuan (€389) for information leading to the capture of illegal immigrants, and 5,000 yuan (€648) for residents who capture illegal arrivals themselves.

Health officials said that 409 imported infections have originated in Russia, all Chinese citizens returning home.

China prohibited foreigners from entering the country two weeks ago but established the hotline to guard against illegal entries along its porous 4,200km border with Russia.

Health officials reported 89 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, all but three of them imported infections. Authorities said 79 of the imported cases had come across the Russian border.

Daily wage workers in Suifenhe on the Russia border. Photograph: Huizhong Wu/Reuters
Daily wage workers in Suifenhe on the Russia border. Photograph: Huizhong Wu/Reuters

China’s number of confirmed cases now stands at 83,254, with a death toll of 3,341. More than 78,000 people have already recovered.

As part of reinforced measures, the border city of Suifenhe and the provincial capital of Harbin said they would require all arrivals from abroad to undergo 28 days of quarantine, as well as taking nucleic acid and antibody tests.

Don’t come home

The state-run newspaper the Global Times urged Chinese in Russia to stay where they were and not come home. They said there could be up to 1.5 million Chinese in Russia, and many might return to China fearing the Russian medical system could break down. Russia has reported 21,000 cases to date but experts feel the true number might be much higher.

“For Chinese people in Russia, we encourage them to stay where they are to avoid being infected. The most effective way to prevent infection is to implement strict self-quarantine. The risk of long-distance travel is very high,” the newspaper said in an editorial on Tuesday.

“Russia is the latest example of a failure to control imported cases and can serve as a warning to others,” the Communist Party’s paper said.

In the southern city of Guangzhou, Chinese officials and businesses have been trying to placate the African community after widespread allegations of prejudice inherent in the city’s Covid-19 containment measures. McDonald’s apologised on Tuesday after one of its restaurants hung up a sign saying black people were banned from entering.

Ambassadors of African countries in China formally complained over the weekend of racist policies after many of their citizens were evicted from their homes and hotels in the city, subjected to arbitrary quarantines and mass testing, and refused service in shops in restaurants.

After an angry meeting with more than 20 African diplomats, a Beijing official pledged to lift the “special health management measures” on African people “according to the principle of non-discrimination”.