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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

China's Illegals

I hate to take another swipe at China. I've blogged before about how troubled I am that the United States and other western countries have gotten so cozy with such a country that clearly doesn't share or even respect our values and that God I thought we all worshipped.

The thing is evidence continues to mount that I'm right. China clearly acts in ways that are quite contrary to Christian values. But even if you're not a Christian, China clearly acts in ways that are contrary to humanitarian or ethical values.

The latest example was a documentary I watched recently on public television. It was about desperate people in North Korea who flee across the border into China, hoping for asylum in China, or at least safe passage through China to South Korea or some other safe country. Living conditions in North Korea are miserable and the people are desperate for relief.

But it seems that North Korea has passed laws which make defection a crime punishable by death. So, for example, if you are caught trying to escape North Korea - or are returned after getting out of North Korea, you will be tortured, punished and probably killed. So these desperate people, when they become desperate enough to try and escape, must succeed. Their very lives are at stake.

So what's China's position? Well,, China says these people (the North Koreans who flee through China) are illegal "economic" immigrants. China's response? Capture them and return them to North Korea. Never mind that international laws say that you don't do this when the people's lives are clearly in danger. You at least give them safe harbor to a country that would be willing to take them. But China thumbs its nose at those international laws. You see, China ain't bound by no stinking international laws! Heck, China ain't even bound by any standards of human decency.

South Korea will not only take the North Korean defectors, but they will subsidize them economically to help them get on their feet in South Korea. Many other western countries are willing to take the North Korean refugees. So there is no need for China to fear that these people will become a burden to it.

But of course, China insists that they are not "refugees." It argues that they are simply gold-digging "illegal economic immigrants." It has no tolerance with them and no mercy for them. Never mind that their starvation is well documented and that they live in the single most evil, repressive regime on earth --- with the worst human rights record on earth. China thinks they're leaving North Korea because of money.

According to the report on public broadcasting, China captures and returns literally hundreds of North Koreans every single month. North Korean authorities keep such repatriates in penal labour colonies (and/or execute them), execute any of the Chinese-fathered babies "to protect North Korean pure blood" and force abortions on all pregnant repatriates not executed.

I was able to find similar reports on the Internet, as readily accessible as According to reports, China refuses to grant refugee status to North Korean defectors, and considers them illegal economic migrants. The Chinese authorities arrest and deport hundreds of defectors back into North Korea each week (that's considerably more than referenced in the documentary I watched on PBS), sometimes in mass immigration sweeps. Moreover, Chinese citizens caught aiding defectors face fines and imprisonment.

So again I ask, are the Chinese the kind of people we want to do business with? Are these the kind of people we want to buy all of our manufactured goods from? Are these the kind of people we want to borrow money from? Do we really want more trade with these people?

And finally, do we really think that China will ever change its behavior on human rights issues when the western world is so content to "look the other way" and keep treating them as if they were decent human beings?

I'm aware that the Clinton presidency was one of the biggest purveyors of the belief that free trade with China would make China a better partner in the world --- and would make the world a safer place. I'm still not convinced. There is little, if any evidence, that economically empowering China has brought about any change in its despicable behavior.

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