The China–Vietnam border reopened after a three-week closure over Covid-19 concerns

, The China–Vietnam border reopened after a three-week closure over Covid-19 concerns
  • Closure of checkpoints following one Covid-19 case in border city of Dongxing had stranded thousands of trucks carrying goods from Vietnam.
  • Farm and frozen products to have priority to cross the border, Vietnam says, but some controls will remain in place because of the pandemic.

China has reopened a busy checkpoint on its border with Vietnam after a three-week closure over Covid-19 concerns, which had left thousands of trucks stranded and drawn criticism from Hanoi, SCMP reported.

According to SCMP, cargo and traveller clearance in the coastal border city of Dongxing – bordering Mong Cai in Vietnam – resumed on Monday, the local pandemic control office said. It added that China still required arrivals from Vietnam to show a vaccination certificate and a negative Covid-19 test result from within the previous seven days.

Border clearance had also resumed on January 1 at the Friendship Pass in Pingxiang, and six days later at the Longbang and Pingmeng checkpoints in Baise, according to Vietnam News Agency.

China has tightened its land border with Vietnam amid worries over the omicron variant of COVID-19, dealing a blow to trade from the Southeast Asian country as it battles to get its economy back on track in the face of the pandemic, the Nikkei reported.

Beijing informed Vietnam that foreign drivers would be barred from crossing the border between the two countries due to a request from Chinese health authorities, with similar measures also affecting China’s borders with Myanmar and Laos. China is Vietnam’s second-largest export market and its biggest source of imports.

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The move comes after Hu Suo Jin, an economic and commercial counsellor at China’s embassy in Vietnam, said on Monday that Beijing needs to restrict trade flows through regional borders to prevent coronavirus spreading ahead of “big events” in the next few months. The Lunar New Year holiday is coming up in February and Beijing is preparing to host the Winter Olympics in the same month.

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The customs process on the Chinese side of the border had already slowed from November, with authorities taking steps such as mass testing after a COVID case was discovered in a town near the border in China.

According to the Nikkei, before the border reopened, over 6,300 trucks carrying industrial goods and agricultural produce such as jackfruit, water melon, mango and dragon fruit were queuing for kilometers along Vietnamese roads to the four main border gates, waiting for customs clearance. Some had been there for over 20 days, while around another 3,000 trucks were also stuck on the Chinese side.

 

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