China Feeling Pressure Over North Koreans

The Los Angeles Times is running a profile story about the Chinese crackdown on North Korean refugees.

The arrests have been part of China’s relentless crackdown on North Koreans who cross over in an attempt to defect to South Korea. High barbed-wire fences have been erected along the banks of the Tumen River, which runs along part of China’s border with . Recently, the Chinese have started blocking routes leading out of China as well, installing ultrared heat and motion sensors in the desert terrain near the border with Mongolia.

Mobile telephone calls and e-mails among activists are monitored, and informants pose as defectors to infiltrate safe houses where North Koreans are hiding. Those caught are repatriated to North Korea.

According to the article, human rights activists have asked China to change its policy toward the estimated 100,000 refugees.

“These Olympics are just about the most important international event in Chinese history. If they want to brag to the world about what a safe and stable place China is, they have to do something for the refugees,” said Do Hee-youn, who runs a fund for North Korean defectors in Seoul.

But, even if the Chinese government does modify its policies, some activists say they are not convinced the change would be substantive.

“At best, they’ll put on a public relations show for the Olympics,” activist Tim Peters said. “But it won’t be anything more than smoke and mirrors.”

Read the rest of the Los Angeles Times report here.

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