The Chinese military has deployed troops near the border with North Korea to counter defections, as well as stem the number of violent incidents that have taken place there, Radio Free Asia reported.
Sources in the area said that troops from the People’s Liberation Army have been stationed in the area near the Tumen River, the most frequent crossing point for North Korean defectors, whether they stay in China or ultimately move on to another country.
Sources in the city of Helong, in China’s northeastern Jilin Province, told the network that, in areas where there had previously been only border guards, there were now members of the regular People’s Liberation Army that had also been deployed, and that these do not appear to be temporary developments.
Sources in the area said the PLA had not been stationed at the border previously, but now it has been almost a month since they arrived. In local villages they are officially starting to build offices, an indication that they plan to stay long-term.
“After seeing this,” a source told RFA, “we can say that they have officially been stationed there.”
As the regular forces of the People’s Republic of China, the PLA has not traditionally been stationed in the border areas near the North. However, sources told the RFA that the troops had suddenly been stationed there in response to a number of armed incursions by North Koreans.
For instance, in December a deserter from the Korean People’s Army reportedly killed four Korean-Chinese in Jilin Province’s Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture before being captured. Then, in April, an unknown number of gunmen crossed the border, killing three Chinese.
Just last week Chinese guards reportedly shot and killed a border-crosser who resisted arrest.
High-ranking military authorities are known to have issued a command last June to crack down on defectors in the area, but North Korean defectors are believed to have disregarded the order and simply sought to evade the crackdown.
However, the long-term deployment of Chinese forces in the area may indicate that they are preparing so as to be able to push back or prevent large numbers of border crossings in the event of a sudden change on the Korean Peninsula.
Sources told RFA that the Chinese military had spread throughout in border areas across from North Hamgyong Province in North Korea.
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