After Chinese customs authorities began their crackdown on smuggling of agricultural products last year, smugglers have shifted their routes to remote mountain areas where they are harder to catch. The trade is apparently so profitable that smugglers are using excavating equipment to build new roads.
According to Grain and Oils News, the "green wind" campaign to crack down on smuggling of rice and other agricultural products into China has led to arrest of ten smuggling rings since the campaign was launched last year. While the program has "effectively curbed smuggling," the situation is still "grim." Smugglers are still in business and have increased the scale and professionalism of their operations.
The director of the Guangxi Province Grain Industry Association explained that farmers in neighboring countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia can grow up to three crops of rice annually at much lower cost than Chinese producers. The price of rice in neighboring countries is 15 to 30 percent less than the Chinese price, so the incentive to smuggle rice into China is strong.
Smuggling business focuses mainly rice, corn, sugar, and frozen meat. When customs officials began their crackdown in 2012, the main routes included waterways and roads in the eastern part of Guangxi Province near the Vietnam border. Now smuggling has shifted to Chongzuo and Baise, mountainous, heavily-forested areas further inland that also border Vietnam.
An official from Pingxiang City explained that last year smugglers began using excavation equipment to build roads that link into a network of roads built for military patrols along the border. Authorities have destroyed some of them but smugglers supposedly rebuild them.
There is no mention of whether smugglers pay off the officials nor whether the military is involved in the smuggling.