Chinese officials say North Koreans are crossing the border and committing crimes in China. To protect the area, China is organizing civilian patrols in the Yanbian border region.
It is unclear if these civilian patrols have guns. Private citizens in China are not permitted to own guns, but officials make some exceptions for people who have permits for hunting.
Matthew Halsall is with Durihana, a Christian organization that helps defectors escape from North Korea. He says North Korean soldiers are committing most of the crimes near the border. For instance, a North Korean soldier reportedly killed four people in the area during a robbery attempt in December.
Mr. Halsall also says the crimes near the border are increasing fears Chinese have of North Korean defectors.
“What is a massive problem is the Chinese public’s perception of North Korean defectors and the fact is that the Chinese do just see North Korean defectors as economic migrants and have very low opinions of them.”
The number of defectors crossing into China has decreased significantly in the last few years, in spite of poverty and malnutrition in North Korea. Part of the reason is because North Korea has increased the number of border guards. The government has also started using harsher punishments for Koreans caught trying to cross the border.
But China is still concerned about border safety and security. In addition to the civilian guards, China has installed video cameras and a telephone hotline to report illegal activity.
Kang Dong-wan is a professor of international relations at Dong-a University in Busan, South Korea. He says the increase in crime and security measures at the border does not suggest any change in the relationship between China and North Korea. The countries are close allies and trading partners. Professor Kang says the authorization of the civilian militias is just a measure to protect Chinese citizens living in the border regions.
I’m Jonathan Evans.
Correspondent Brian Padden reported this story from Seoul. Ashley Thompson wrote it for Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.
Words in this Story
patrol – n. a group of people or vehicles that go through an area to make sure that it is safe
defector – n. a person who leaves a country, political party or organization and goes to a competitor or an enemy
perception – n. the way you think about or understand someone or something
hotline – n. a direct telephone line set up for a specific purpose, especially for emergencies or communication between heads of government