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China said planning to set up North Korean refugee facilities

By Takayuki Nakagawa in Beijing

 

It was learned that facilities for holding North Korean refugees temporarily are being planned in Changbai Korean Autonomous County in China’s Jilin Province. An informed source close to the county government told Yomiuri Shimbun that “candidate sites have already been selected.”

 

This is a rare instance where China’s policy on the influx of refugees became known. It appears that amid heightening tension on the Korean Peninsula, China is stepping up its preparations in anticipation of turmoil in North Korea.

 

According to the above source, five locations close to the Yalu River on the border with North Korea have been chosen for the refugee facilities. Construction work on the buildings has yet to start since “it is also conceivable that tents will just be set up in these facilities.” The stockpiling of food in preparation for the influx of refugees has already been completed last year, and the stocks will be replaced every year.

 

In addition to this plan, another source on China-North Korea relations says that “another refugee facility was completed last year” in the mountainous area north of Changbai County.

 

This county has a population of 84,000. Chinese citizens who are ethnic Koreans speaking the Korean language live there, and it is on one of the escape routes of defectors from North Korea.

 

In connection with this refugee camp plan, a report believed to be created by the branch office of China Mobile, the leading cell phone company in China, on its inspection of the telecommunications conditions at the candidate sites has been leaked on the Chinese version of Twitter, Weibo.

 

This report says that in light of the “tense situation on the North Korean border,” the county’s party committee and government are considering setting up five refugee camps. Employees of China Mobile, which was commissioned by the party committee and government, conducted a field survey on Dec. 2, with specific place names being mentioned in the report.

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