Authorities in southwest China are offering rewards of up to 30,000 yuan (US$4,500) for information about foreigners living, working or travelling illegally in the region, as part of efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The Yunnan provincial government announced a tiered structure for the payments on social media on Thursday night.
People who provide information leading to the arrest of an individual foreigner would be paid up to 1,000 yuan, while those who actually caught them would receive between 1,000 and 3,000 yuan, it said on WeChat.
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The reward for information about groups “organising or transporting foreigners illegally across the border” was 2,000 yuan to 5,000 yuan, while tips that played an “extremely big role” in the crackdown would be worth between 10,000 yuan and 30,000 yuan, it said.
Members of the public can also earn up to 1,000 yuan for providing information that leads to the arrest of individuals who help foreigners live or work in China illegally, or are involved in the production of fake documents.
The aim of the scheme is to weed out foreigners who are living or working in China without the required papers, the government said.
The campaign comes as China is trying to prevent new coronavirus infections being “imported” into the country. Yunnan shares a 4,000km (600-mile) border with the Southeast Asian countries of Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.
The Yunnan city of Ruili, which has a population of about 200,000, was put under lockdown in September after two people from Myanmar, who had crossed into China illegally, tested positive for the coronavirus.
Since then, local authorities have stepped up their surveillance measures, including shutting down unofficial river ports, confiscating vessels and increasing patrols. The tightened security resulted in more than 450 people being charged with illegal entry, Beijing Daily reported.
While China has mostly brought Covid-19 under control, outbreaks continue to be reported across the country, and they cannot all be blamed on illegal foreigners.
On Tuesday, the city of Kashgar in Xinjiang province was put under lockdown in response to an outbreak linked to a factory in Shufu county. The first identified patient was a 17-year-old girl whose parents worked at the plant.
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