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China’s stance on refugees alarms North Korean defectors

Chinese authorities have reiterated their policy of not recognizing North Koreans as refugees, causing increased anxiety among defectors’ relatives in North Korea’s border regions, according to a source in Yanggang Province.

Speaking anonymously for security reasons, the Daily NK source reported that Chinese police in Liaoning Province issued a warning last month stating China “would never recognize North Koreans as refugees and that this policy will never change.” This announcement was conveyed to female defectors living with Chinese men, and word of the warning then made its way to residents of the border city of Hyesan.

On June 18, Liaoning Province police instructed local stations that China would not allow United Nations refugee bodies or rescue organizations to operate in the country. The directive warned that anyone assisting such activities would face severe punishment for “abetting violations of national sovereignty.”

The police emphasized that people crossing illegally from North Korea are not considered refugees. China allows some defectors to stay only because they live with Chinese men and have children together. Defectors were warned to “live quietly and not cause social problems” and to avoid contacting South Koreans or encouraging relatives in North Korea to cross the border.

Chinese men living with North Korean women were told to report any “unusual or problematic behavior” to the police immediately.

The directive, disseminated through local police and village heads, has caused anxiety among female defectors who fear forced repatriation for even minor infractions. Some Chinese partners have exacerbated these fears, suggesting that international pressure on China regarding defectors could lead to mass repatriations.

News of the directive has also reached North Koreans in border regions of Yanggang Province through defectors in China. The source reported that relatives of defectors are particularly worried, feeling “their hearts sink” at the possibility of forced repatriations.

Daily NK works with a network of sources living in North Korea, China, and elsewhere. Their identities remain anonymous for security reasons. 

Please send any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

Read in Korean

July 08, 2024 at 07:00AM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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