A Private Citizen’s Letter to Chinese Authorities

Citizens Speak Out  

LFNKR recently acquired a copy of a letter sent to Chinese authorities by one of our readers, a private citizen living in the United Kingdom. This letter clearly outlines some of the more critical issues now facing China and North Korea.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to you concerning the issue of North Korean refugees in China or passing through China.

The current Chinese policy is to repatriate North Koreans and I understand that you have recently made the controls more strict in the border regions around Yanbian province, the Korean autonomous region.

From what I can see, the heightened security and amount of police patrols involved in the search for refugees must consume a large amount of the Chinese security budget. I am fully aware that in the border regions, particularly Tumen, the crime associated with these refugees is a cause for concern among locals, due to the fact that the poverty, starvation and failure of the current revaluation has led to many starving and struggling families resorting to crime in order to obtain food, as is the norm in North Korea.

This issue is not directly the fault of the Chinese Government but of the decline of the North Korean economy. However, the current Chinese policy is unsustainable when the influx of North Koreans in search of food in China or even a means to survive by taking the dangerous route to Thailand or similar third countries via China in order to reach South Korea, has an ever increasing number of North Koreans who have lost faith in the regime and no longer place value on their livelihoods.

Through my in-depth study of Chinese Political, Social and Economic history, I know for a fact that during the Cultural Revolution under Chairman Mao, where poverty and starvation prevailed in extremely large numbers in China, migration via, for example, Hong Kong, to third countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and the United States in particular happened with large numbers of Mainland China citizens and this movement out of the country was much less restricted than the difficult and nigh-on impossible escape from North Korea and was not restricted by these countries as North Korean emigration is in China.

China is now a very rich, respected and developed nation, in a small part due to the economic market reforms by Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s. It is currently the view of many North Korea enthusiasts that such similar reforms are unlikely in the country, though they are essential to the survival of many citizens.

It is also internationally known about the widespread human rights abuses in North Korea and many videos and photos taken by defectors of public executions or to prove the existence of such brutal prisons have been released to the international public.

So, I am writing in the hope of obtaining some information as to whether China has any intention of reforming its policy related to North Korea? The influx due to the famine as resulting from a shattered economy and failed crop due to lack of equipment, fertiliser and the adverse weather conditions which flooded and killed crops this season, will only further increase the number of those seeking to leave North Korea via China.

I assume the cost of policing the border is highly apparent to the Chinese Government and so, in the long term, would it not be more economical and would promote to the international community China’s recognition of North Korean human rights abuses and their dedication in cooperating to help fellow human beings, and Communists, by creating some kind of facility – perhaps similar to the re-education center in South Korea named Hanawon – to teach the North Koreans the importance of etiquette such as no longer stealing for food or begging, and to eventually assimilate into a normal society, be it by integrating into South Korea where the language would not be a barrier, or by educating the North Koreans in Chinese in order to increase the labour force of workers in rural China and to feed money back into the economy to finance the building of the re-education center, or even to help them move on to another country where they would not be taking anything from the Chinese economy or jobs from regular Chinese.

The current holding of North Koreans in Japanese Diplomatic Holding Centers around China needs also to be reviewed. By transporting the North Koreans to Japan, it will remove the strain of the detaining of these citizens on the Chinese economy and will help to alleviate any tension between Japan – with a large and successful economy – and China. The stabilisation of the Northern Hemisphere Asian Continent is the key to China’s continued success in both the East and West, and will, in the long run, benefit China socially – by reducing crime – and economically – by improving neighbouring relations and thereby trade.

Even not to go so far as to directly help them but adopt a policy similar to that in Thailand where the North Koreans are detained and held until their visa to South Korea, the United States or similar countries is approved and they can be mobilised. This would cut down the costs of forced repatriation by transportation and the necessary bribes which are widely known to be accepted for repatriating escapees by North Korean soliders. This would not be of great debt to China and would also improve China’s international standing among both the UN security council and human rights organisations (such as Amnesty International) and would likely increase cooperation between countries such as the United States and South Korea with China.

What is more, the heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula, which threaten the potential of a second Korean War daily, means that if this were to happen, the international community would be looking to China’s position as to who they would support; what is China’s current stance on the potential of this situation, as China has diplomatic relations with the South and often seems to support the North? Also, such a War would only bring vast numbers of refugees into China, which would be impossible to send them all back. It would be inevitable for China, being so close and being bordered to the Korean Peninsula, to get involved. Many innocent civilians would be killed by the South Korean and US soldiers, it would also cripple the South’s economy. I personally am not suggesting War is the answer and North Korea should be allowed to continue with their Communist ideals if they take a more open policy as has China which is a flourishing and wonderful nation.

However, North Korea is a repressive and failing nation, and it requires intervention to improve the situation. The North Korean regime is also very paranoid and unstable; they could turn on China, as much of their propaganda focuses on the fact that China is no longer a centrally planned economy and therefore, traitors to Communism, in the North’s words.

China needs to react soon in response to the negative propaganda and the way North Korea uses China to gain rice and materials in return for no substantial gain to the Chinese side. China can not be used in this way as it is a strong and honourable nation; thus, it needs to act now in order to help the helpless human beings repressed and abused under Kim Jong-Il’s regime and to make some kind of agreement in the eventuality of the Korean War where China is at high risk of being affected.

North Koreans did not ask to be born in their country, especially during a time of economic hardship and food shortages. With the recent developments where the United States has closed many North Korean bank accounts internationally, the situation is only likely to become worse. There is no way to send every North Korean back to their country and many will commit suicide in order to avoid going back due to the situation in the country being so dire.

So I request from China, as I know many others in support of the plight of the North Korean people will too, that you review and amend the policy concerning the influx of starving North Koreans who are sent to their death after repatriation either by starvation, disease, firing squad or torture in their own country of North Korea.

I await your reply and thank you for your time.

Name withheld for security reasons