China is reportedly preparing for an exodus of millions of North Korean refugees, with at least five settlements being constructed along its shared border.
A leaked document has revealed China’s plans to construct a network of refugee camps along the border it shares with North Korea, as tensions between Washington and Pyongyang show no sign of abating.
In an indication that China anticipates war, or the imminent collapse of the Kim Jong-un regime, it is believed to be constructing at least five settlement points in the north-east Jilin Province along the 880-mile (1,416km) stretch separating the two states.
Jilin Province is situated just 60 miles from Punggye-ri, the main North Korean nuclear test site.
Beijing is reportedly preparing for a potential mass exodus of more than one million North Koreans, as Kim Jong-un continues to test missiles and Donald Trump promises to “take care of it”.
The plans were exposed when an internal communication from the state-run telco giant China Mobile was leaked for public consumption. It is understood China Mobile has been tasked with providing internet services to the camps.
The document was first published in English by the Financial Times, and has since been deleted from Chinese website. However, an unverified copy has been republished by mainstream media.
According to the Guardian, it says: “Due to cross-border tensions… the [Communist] party committee and government of Changbai county has proposed setting up five refugee camps in the county.”
The document also says a manager of China Mobile had inspected locations on December 2, at the behest of the local council.
In response, Lu Kang from China’s foreign ministry was tight-lipped, saying he hadn’t seen such reports.
The New York Times however, spoke to a local businessman (on the condition of anonymity), who claims that temporary accommodation had already been erected at several sites.
Jilin Province publishes nuclear attack survival guide
Jilin Province, home to the reported refugee camps, is bracing for nuclear war.
On December 6, the local newspaper Jilin Daily dedicated a full page to articles with instructions for citizens on how to survive a nuclear explosion and minimise their exposure to radioactive fallout.
A week earlier, Kim Jong-un successfully launched an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the US mainland. President Trump, in turn, suggested retaliation would be forthcoming.
As such, the timing of the content raised alarm both in China and abroad.
But the state-run masthead quickly made assurances that it was only disseminated to enhance education on the topic.
It said information on the same subject was provided by the People’s Air Defense Office of Jilin Province (PADO), and the article was published in an attempt to “strengthen normal national defense education”.
The PADO then added that the instructions were only “common sense”, and “should not be over-interpreted”.