February 25, 2009 / 2:48 PM / 10 years ago

China warns of kidnappings at Myanmar casinos

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese should not go to Myanmar to gamble, because of the risks of scams and kidnapping, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

Casinos lining the Mekong River along the border of Myanmar and China’s southwestern Yunnan Province are popular with Chinese, since gambling is illegal in mainland China.

But in recent years, Chinese lured by the promise of free trips or cheap jade have run into trouble or been cheated of all their money, the Xinhua news agency said.

“People who don’t know what’s going on have been trapped in casinos, beaten and their relatives asked to pay ransoms,” the foreign ministry said on its website.

Just last month, 19 Chinese teenagers from the northern province of Shanxi were freed after their families paid ransoms to kidnappers in Myanmar. They had gambled themselves deep into debt in Myanmar when they went to Yunnan seeking work.

Another group of 124 migrant workers from the northeast were stopped at the border crossing into Myanmar in December, after also having been told by human smugglers that they would find work in Yunnan.

Reporting by Lucy Hornby; Editing by Valerie Lee

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