China recently declares that it is closing its border with Russia to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Now, Russia is left with stranded Chinese tourists.
China shares one of the longest borders in the world with its neighbor to the north, Russia. Recently, tension on the border rises as people are demanding passage for them to be able go home to their country in fear of COVID-19.
Right in the middle of this tension is the city of Suifenhe, in Chinas southeastern province of Heilongjian province. While the city is more than 2,000 kilometers away from the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is one of the busiest point of entry or exit between the two counties.
As thousands of Chinese citizens are seeking entry back into China, the government decides to close the border in fear that they might spread the virus further. This leaves thousands of Chinese citizens stuck either in the border in within Russia.
A journey full of peril
Chinese citizens seeking to return back to their country embark on a perilous journey. This includes a nine-hour flight to the Russian city of Vladivostok and a two-hour land travel to reach the administrative district of Pogranichny.
Entry through the Russian-Mongolian border for Chinese nationals has been restricted – head of the emergency response centre and Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova
— Government of Russia (@GovernmentRF) January 31, 2020
The number of citizens seeking a way home is so huge that rumors claiming Russia is deliberately expelling Chinese nationals spread like wildfire. Reports are now claiming that COVID-19 cases on the border are spiking.
The massive exodus of people forces China to commit a difficult decision. The country has to choose between locking the border and risk tension between Russia, or open the border and risk the further spread of the virus.
Drastic measures to curb the spread of COVID-19
In an effort to mitigate the spread of the virus, China allowed re-entry of its citizens, provided that they will undergo a 28-day quarantine. Imposing strict lockdown rules is also part of the strategy. These drastic measures to secure Suifenhe has led many citizens to refer to the city as “Little Wuhan.”
China is pushing its strict lockdown orders. The administration is even offering as much as $700 to report those who cross the border illegally. With Wuhan as the epicenter of the pandemic, China is not easing its efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing countries to close borders. China and Russia must work out a solution in order to control the tension on their border. Measures should be taken in order to curb the spread of the virus.
Image courtesy of Macau Photo Agency/Unsplash