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China Considers New Approach in Dealing with North Korean Defectors

China Considers New Approach in Dealing with North Korean Defectors

Posted July. 22, 2003 21:40,   


Li Bin, the Chinese Ambassador to South Korea, met with main opposition party’s chairman Choi Byung-yul Tuesday. During the meeting held at the GNP headquarters in Yeouido, Seoul, the Chinese Ambassador said, “The Chinese government will deal with the issue regarding North Korean defectors in China in a new approach.”

In response to GNP chairman Choi`s request for the Chinese government`s humanitarian treatment of North Korean defectors, Li Bin said, “As US embassies started to accept North Korean refugees, the Chinese government is now reconsidering its official stance on the issue.”

However, officials at the Foreign Ministry interpreted that the Chinese Ambassador`s remark doesn`t directly mean the Chinese government’s policy shift in dealing with North Korean defectors.

The Chinese Ambassador added, “First of all, Chinese authorities will verify the nationality of a person in custody, a Chinese or a North Korean and whether he or she committed an illegal activity. And then, in case of a North Korean defector, how to deal with the defector will be determined on China`s domestic law, international laws, and humanitarian aspects.”

Touching on a format of talks on North Korea`s nuclear issue, Mr. Li Bin said, “What matters most right now is to make the North return to a negotiating table. Therefore, it will be better to resume nuclear talks in the three-way format involving the US, the North, and China and later expand the talks into a multilateral dialogue.”

“I have an optimistic outlook toward nuclear talks, given the fact that when the Chinese special envoy visited North Korea, he received a warm welcome by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il,” the Chinese Ambassador expressed his opinion on future nuke talks.

He also added, “In response to South Korean President Roh`s state visit to China, the Chinese government is now working on a plan to send a large Chinese delegation including prominent figures to Seoul.”

Min-Hyuk Park mhpark@donga.com