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China mulls refugee camps: Report

Leaked document says gov’t may build 5 to prepare for Korean war
Dec 09,2017
China plans to build refugee shelters at five points along its border with North Korea in the northeastern Jilin Province in anticipation of a possible war on the peninsula, reported Radio Free Asia Friday, citing a leaked telecommunications document.

An internal memo from state-owned telecommunications company China Mobile’s local branch office showed that the Changbai Korean Autonomous County in Jilin plans to install five shelters. The document was leaked on Chinese portal sites, including Weibo on Wednesday, but has been deleted within the country since then.

The memo called for the shelters to be set up in Changbai County, amid heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula. According to the memo, the Chinese Communist Party’s Changbai branch and local county government requested that China Mobile guarantee telecommunications signals for the areas around the five shelters.

It also called for network coverage in these areas, and said that the mobile company conduct a field inspection, sending a team to the shelter on Dec. 2 for signal testing.

The document goes on to name the specific locations of the sites, noting that three locations had irregular signals, and that it would be difficult to provide telecommunications signals to two of these sites, including the Yanjiang shelter.

This reflects concern that in a war scenario on the peninsula, North Korean refugees will flock to Changbai County, which faces Hyesan in North Korea’s Ryanggang Province and shares a 260 kilometer (162 mile) border with North Korea. It is also in one of two Korean autonomous regions in China.

RFA reported that the Changbai local government currently denies that it has any plans to set up a refugee town, and that it is looking into how the document was leaked.

Such reports, though unconfirmed by the central government, indicate a heightened anxiety about the potential for military escalation, after the North’s latest Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile test last week.

The Jilin Daily, run by a provincial branch of the Chinese Communist Party, ran a full-page article on Wednesday about how to survive a nuclear attack, without specifically mentioning the North. But the Chinese government did not confirm whether this was to prepare for a nuclear detonation on the Korean Peninsula.

“Should there be war, it would be in no one’s interests and the ordinary people would be the ones to take the toll,” said Geng Shuang, spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, in a briefing Thursday, responding to North Korea’s remark that there will be a war, if necessary.

He said that the current situation on the Korean Peninsula “remains complex and sensitive,” urging that “all the relevant parties exercise restraint and take actions that will ease tension rather than provoking each other.”

BY SHIN KYUNG-JIN, SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]