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Beijing rejects U.N. concerns about N. Korean defectors in China


BEIJING, June 19 (Yonhap) -- China again rejected U.N. concerns Thursday about the fate of North Korean defectors in its territory, reasserting its long-criticized policy of sending them back to their totalitarian homeland against their will.

China has classified tens of thousands of North Koreans hiding in border areas as illegal migrants, not asylum-seekers, and routinely returns them to North Korea if they are caught. Back in their home country, they face harsh penalties including even death.

Most North Korean defectors walk across the border with China before seeking to resettle in South Korea.

"With regard to the illegal border-crossers from North Korea, we are obliged to deal with the relevant issue in accordance with international laws, internal laws of China as well as humanitarian principles," China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters when asked about U.N. concerns about North Korean refugees in China.

"In China, we have no such thing as political asylum," Hua said.

In Geneva on Wednesday, Marzuki Darusman, U.N. special rapporteur on North Korea, urged China to exercise its influence on the North's regime and hold it responsible for human rights abuses.

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