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Beijing denies presence of North Korean 'defectors' in China

People who illegally enter China due to economic reasons are not refugees, says Chinese Foreign Ministry, responding to questions by South Korea

January 29, 2024

China on Monday denied reports of the presence of any North Korean "defector" in the country, state media reported.

"There is no such thing as 'North Korean defectors' in China," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin.

"People who illegally enter China due to economic reasons are not refugees. They violate Chinese laws and disrupt China's entry and exit management order," Wang stressed.

Beijing's statement came after South Korea sought China's response on the matter of repatriation of North Korean citizens.

At a universal periodic review by the UN, Seoul submitted questions asking China about its refugee application procedure that is accessible to defectors from abroad, including North Korea.

Seoul had raised the issue of North Koreans crossing into China for work and Beijing's repatriating the neighboring country's nationals, whom it called "illegal immigrants."

This was the first time South Korea submitted written questions to the UN on China's universal periodic review, held on Jan. 23.

Wang underlined that China "always adheres to the principled position of combining domestic law, international law and humanitarianism in dealing with these people."


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