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China Detaining Korean Nat`ls Over Civil Lawsuits

Posted November. 05, 2009 03:35,   


A Korean businessman visiting China has been detained there for three months. The 56-year-old man expressed anger when talking to The Dong-A Ilbo.

He said his passport was taken by a Chinese court while trying to enter China Aug. 21 through Shenyang Airport in Liaoning province.

This is the reason Beijing gave for his passport’s confiscation. The man was the head of a company in Korea’s South Chungcheong Province in 2004. The company planned to import sand from a company in Yantai in China’s Shandong province, but failed to keep its contract.

The company gave up its down payment of 10,000 U.S. dollars for the contract, and the deal was automatically nullified.

The Chinese company, however, sued the Korean entity, citing massive damage due to costs for sand storage. When the Korean company failed to respond, a Chinese court ruled in favor of the Chinese company in 2005, and ordered the Korean company to pay 849,283 yuan (120,000 U.S. dollars) in damages.

The businessman visited China several times afterwards with no problems, but yet had his passport confiscated this time. “After the collapse of the sand import deal, I resigned as the head of the company and the company was liquidated. Hence, I was unaware of the lawsuit,” he said. “I filed a counterclaim with the Chinese court and am engaged in a legal dispute.”

In a growing number of cases, the Chinese government has deprived foreigners, including Koreans, of their passports to detain them in China over non-obedience of Chinese rulings in civil suits.

According the Korean Embassy in Beijing, another Korean national had his passport taken for a similar reason.

In Shenyang in 2007, a Korean was detained in China for failing to repay personal debts. Last year, a Korean businessman had his passport taken on the charge of failure to pay wages on time in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, and had a travel ban placed on him.

The Korean Embassy in Beijing said Chinese civil procedural and immigration laws stipulate that authorities can impose a travel ban and up to 15 days in detention on Chinese nationals and foreigners who fail to honor court rulings. Korea, the U.S., and Japan have no such laws.

Jeong Yeon-ho, a Korean lawyer works in both China and Korea, said, “There is no country with an advanced legal system that imposes physical constraints due to a civil suit,” adding, “If China wants to be recognized as a superpower, Beijing must change such irrational legal regulations to meet international standards.”

A source at the Korean Embassy in Beijing said, “Korea and China have different laws,” adding, “At present, there is no other option but to proactively respond when sued in China.”