BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Chinese Vietnamese Burmese Thai Indonesian
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
    You are in: Asia-Pacific  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
 Monday, 20 January, 2003, 09:38 GMT
China detains N Korean refugees
Refugees trying to enter the Japanese consulate in Beijing in 2002
China is in a continual battle with the asylum seekers
A large group of North Korean refugees has been detained in China as they tried to leave the mainland to seek asylum abroad.

The international aid agency, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), said 48 refugees were detained, including families with children, just as they were about to set sail from the Chinese port of Yantai, in Shandong province, at the weekend.

Chinese police confirmed the arrests, but would not say how many people were held.

MSF said three people who had been helping the group were also arrested - two South Koreans and one Chinese.

Many thousands have fled food shortages and political repression in North Korea, via China, in recent years, but Beijing usually repatriates North Koreans found to have secretly entered the country, in line with an agreement with Pyongyang.

Grim future awaits

According to a South Korean agency which helps defectors from the North, the North Koreans were headed for Sasebo port in Japan, and Chuja island, off South Korea's south coast.

The detained refugees now face being forcibly repatriated to North Korea, where they could be sent to prison, or a labour camp.

As for the South Korean organisers, the BBC's correspondent in Beijing, Adam Brookes, says the Chinese Government will now have to decide whether they have broken the law and should go on trial, or whether they should be quietly deported to avoid the possible embarrassment of trying foreign nationals.

China has sent home about 3,200 North Korean refugees since early December alone, following the launch of a "100-day campaign" against those fleeing the Stalinist state.

Steady flow

Many thousands more remain in China, building a life on false papers.

Others try to make a break for South Korea, or other countries, where asylum is guaranteed. China allowed more than 130 North Koreans who made it into its foreign embassies last year to leave for South Korea.

Our correspondent says that reports from the China/North Korean border suggest that the security authorities there are devoting considerable time and effort to locating North Korean asylum seekers and to dismantling the networks that help them.


Nuclear tensions

Inside North Korea

Divided peninsula

TALKING POINT
See also:

04 Sep 02 | Asia-Pacific
03 Sep 02 | Asia-Pacific
15 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
20 Jun 02 | Asia-Pacific
14 Jun 02 | Asia-Pacific
25 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
18 May 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
13 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.


 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes