Thursday, March 30, 2006

China views North Korean defectors as illegal migrants

China recently repeated its view that North Korean defectors in the country are illegal migrants, not refugees, rejecting the U.N. Refugee agency's view that they should not be strictly categorized as such.

The North Koreans staying in China "are those who illegally entered the country, not refugees," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a press conference.

Qin's comments came as U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres visited Beijing [for the first time in 9 years] for talks with senior government officials to address the status of the North Koreans who have fled to China.

Concerned about the punishment that the North Koreans face if sent back to the North, the UNHCR has been pressing the Chinese government for access to the migrants. China has so far rejected the request.

[Japan Economic Newswire]
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