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China repatriates over 3,000 N. Korean illegal workers

Posted March. 28, 2019 07:44,   

Updated March. 28, 2019 07:44


China reportedly repatriated some 3,000 North Korean workers late last month alone when the secondary round of U.S.-North Korea summit fell through. “China sent back some 3,000 North Korean workers in Dandong City of Liaoning province, a region bordering North Korea,” according to a North Korean source in China on Wednesday.

The move is seen as China’s move to strengthen crackdown of illegally employed North Koreans by way of an entry pass instead of a working permit. The change of China’s stance is a stark contrast to its previous position of turning a blind eye on illegally employed North Koreans.

“China recently submitted a report to the North Korean Sanctions Commission of the UN Security Council in response to reports that China repatriated more than half of North Korean workers,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told a press conference Tuesday. “China internally and externally posted several notices demanding compliance of UN Security Council resolutions on North Korean expatriated workers to which it is consistently, sincerely and rigorously adhering to.”

China had asserted the need for relaxing economic sanctions to North Korea in correspondence to North Korea’s denuclearization. Since the sanctions apply to the majority of North Korea- China trade including North Korean worker issues, relaxed sanctions would be the only meaningful “gift” to North Korea if Chinese President Xi Jinping decides to visit North Korea. Now China faces the dilemma of demanding eased sanctions while faithfully adhering to the sanctions as a permanent member country the United Nations Security Council. With negotiations between the US and China on trade war protracting, executing North Korean sanctions has become critical for China to avoid giving a pretext to U.S. President Donald Trump.

Wan-Jun Yun zeitung@donga.com