China prepares refugee camps amid growing tensions in North Korea

 A propaganda slogan and portraits of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il (R) and his father and founder of North Korea Kim Il Sung (L) are seen in a North Korean village on the banks of the Tumen river, which is seen from the Chinese side in Tumen, China, January 7, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

A propaganda slogan and portraits of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il (R) and his father and founder of North Korea Kim Il Sung (L) are seen in a North Korean village on the banks of the Tumen river, which is seen from the Chinese side in Tumen, China, January 7, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Despite a long history of refugee policy reporting any North Koreans back to almost certain imprisonment or death, China is now constructing refugee camps along

The camps, located in provinces nearby China’s iconic but porous border with North Korea – the Tumen River – are expected to house thousands of migrants.

The construction, amid increasing volatility and international pressure in the region, represents a shift in policy for the long-time ally of the hermit kingdom.

Though officials from Changbai County declined to comment, the leaked documents from state-owned telecommunications company China Mobile document inspections of internet connectivity.

“Because the situation on the China-North Korea border has intensified lately, Changbai County government plans to set up five refugee sites in Changbai,” China Mobile said in the document.