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Sunday, 12 May, 2002, 14:00 GMT 15:00 UK
China asylum problem grows
Chinese police hold down a female North Korea asylum seeker
Japan is sending a senior official to China
Another two North Korean asylum seekers have succeeded in entering a foreign embassy in the Chinese capital, Beijing.

Officials at the Canadian embassy have confirmed that a young man and a woman managed to enter the embassy on Saturday.

North Korean family is stopped by police from entering the Japanese embassy in Shenyang
There has been a series of attempts by North Korean asylum seekers
This comes amid increased tension between Japan and China over Wednesday's incursion by Chinese paramilitary police into a Japanese consulate to remove a group of North Korean asylum seekers.

A Japanese deputy foreign minister is due in Beijing on Monday to push Tokyo's demand that the five North Koreans be allowed to leave China and not be returned to North Korea.

Numbers grow

The last two asylum seekers bring to 30 the number of North Koreans who have succeeded in entering foreign embassies and consulates in China in the last two months.

The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes says that over the past two weeks the Chinese Government has gone to enormous lengths to try to prevent more North Korean asylum seekers from getting into foreign embassies.

Embassy compounds have been ringed with barbed-wire and surrounded by armed guards, some even wielding baseball bats.

But still the North Koreans keep coming, and keep getting through, our correspondent says.

The latest asylum bid comes with two previous asylum attempts in north-east China still unresolved.

Row with Japan

Three North Koreans remain holed up in the US consulate in the city of Shenyang nearly five days after they managed to climb over the wall.

And there is still no sign of a resolution to the diplomatic storm that has blown up between China and Japan after five North Koreans managed to enter the Japanese consulate in Shenyang.

Chinese military police officers march near the US and Japanese embassies in Beijing
China has stepped up security around embassies
China insists that a Japanese consular official gave the police permission to enter the mission and that the official later offered thanks for dealing with the situation.

However, Japan has denied this and is sending its deputy foreign minister to investigate the incident.

In March, 25 North Koreans successfully entered the Spanish embassy in Beijing demanding political asylum in South Korea. They threatened to kill themselves if China sent them back home.

Beijing regards the tens of thousands of North Koreans in China as economic migrants who must be sent home.

But in this and similar cases, the asylum seekers were allowed to go to South Korea, prompting other groups to try similar tactics.

See also:

11 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
China asylum row escalates
09 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
Japan-China spat over North Koreans
08 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
N Korean refugees held in China
14 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
N Koreans storm Spanish embassy
13 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
US offers N Korea 'unconditional' talks
26 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
China's North Koreans in hiding
03 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
'Record numbers' defect to S Korea
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