Chinese customs officials nab a truckload of smuggled rice
In April this year, this blog reported on the "green wind" campaign against smuggling of agricultural products. In July, customs authorities launched a new publicity campaign that mostly warns about the seriousness of rice-smuggling along the border with Southeast Asian countries, linking it to food security and "pressure" on domestic industry.
According to Legal Daily, the aggressive crackdown on smuggling in Guangxi Autonomous Region has pushed the smuggling trade to Yunnan Province. The Kunming customs authorities say they recently broke up two smuggling rings that have illegally brought in 60,000 metric tons of rice and corn this year.
Officials in a Yunnan Province prefecture bordering
Vietnam discuss the rice smuggling crackdown
Customs enforcers describe the smugglers as "ants" that bring in small loads of 12 to 16 metric tons of rice late at night. The smugglers keep tabs on the whereabouts of customs officials and checkpoints to avoid being apprehended.
In a 2 am raid on July 16, enforcement personnel nabbed seven alleged smugglers, eleven trucks and discovered four storage facilities holding 210 metric tons of rice and 90 tons of corn. Officials claim this gang smuggled 40,000 metric tons of rice.
Officials say rice is first brought from Vietnam to Qujing City, northeast of Kunming (incidentally, this is also the site of the deadly earthquake this week). From there it is shipped by rail to Sichuan and Hubei Provinces for sale.
Rice smuggling route from Vietnam into central China
The smuggled Vietnamese rice is said to have a similar color and flavor to Chinese fragrant rice, but it is about 30 percent cheaper. However, the authorities also warn readers that moisture from improper storage turns the rice a yellow-green color or can become black with mold. Smuggled rice is either sold to noodle processors or mills, processed and sold, or mixed with domestic rice.
Smuggling appears to be a food security threat regardless of whether it's coming in or going out. At the northern end of the country, the "green wind" campaign is catching smugglers taking grain OUT of the country. Grain prices in Mongolia are said to be three times higher than in China, causing "serious" smuggling along Inner Mongolia's vast border. In Heilongjiang, traders without an export license illegally shipped corn to a pig farm in Russia.