Friday, July 20, 2007

China more tolerant of North Koreans?

There are some signs that China is easing up on its policy on North Korean refugees who have escaped from the starving Stalinist country. China reportedly issues temporary-resident permits to some North Korean refugees.

The beneficiaries of the temporary IDs are female North Korean refugees who are married to Chinese men, who have children with those men, and who have lived in China for a prolonged period without causing any problem drawing the authorities' attention.

The South Korean official said some villages in China have set up rules stipulating the criteria for issuing such identification cards, adding: "Given the Chinese political structure, without the implicit nod or direction from Beijing, this rule wouldn't have been in place."

China has apparently been carrying out such measures since as early as 2004 in a very low-key manner. It has been less forthcoming in accommodating the demands from the international community for better humanitarian treatment of North Korean refugees for fear that doing so might anger its often irascible neighbor, with which it has a repatriation treaty.

The identification cards issued to North Korean refugees are temporary residential permits or cards that show they are Chinese citizens, said a South Korean expert on North Korean human-rights conditions. He said they are issued only in certain villages and under a limited scope. Most are reportedly in China's inner and western regionsrather than the northeast near the North Korean border where the Korean refugee population is concentrated.

[Excerpt of an article by Sunny Lee, Asia Times]

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