In a pragmatic move, the Chinese government is readying refugee camps along its border with North Korea.
According to a document that appears to have been leaked from China’s main state-owned telecommunications company, one Chinese county along the border is constructing refugee camps that can hold thousands.
Three villages in Changbai County and two cities in the northeastern border province of Jilin, have been designated for the camps, according to the document from China Mobile.
The document appeared on Weibo — a microblogging site — last week.
The construction of the camps is a rare but tacit admission from the Chinese government that it expects the already tense situation regarding North Korea, the U.S. and South Korea over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons development to get worse.
Lu Kang, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, told reporters on Monday that he was unaware of the plan for the refugee camps, but he did not deny their existence.
“I haven’t seen such reports,” Mr. Lu said.
The China Mobile document said that a manager of the company inspected five sites on Dec. 2 at the request of the Changbai County government.
The company was asked to ensure there was viable internet service in the areas that would be used for the camps. “Because the situation on the China-North Korea border has intensified lately, Changbai County government plans to set up five refugee sites in Changbai,” China Mobile said in the document.
The areas designated for the refugee camps were on state-owned land, and temporary housing had already been constructed at several sites, according to a local businessman who requested anonymity for fear of angering the local government.
“It is highly possible that there is a conflict between North Korea and the United States now,” said Zhang Liangui, a professor of international strategic research at the Communist Party’s Central Party School. “What China does here is to be prepared for any kind of situation happening on the Korean Peninsula.” [source]
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