China: The Refugee Weapon

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October13, 2006: While unhappy with North Korea's recent nuclear weapons test, there is not a lot China can do about it. This is because North Korea threatens to unleash hundreds of thousands of desperate North Korean refugees across the border, into northern China, if China applies too much pressure. Currently, the North Koreans have pretty tight control over this border, but that could be relaxed in an instant, allowing a flood of refugees into China. To counter that threat, over the last month, China has been moving more troops and police into northern China, not just to look for existing North Korean refugees, but to man more border posts, in an effort to keep out North Koreans.

China is a major supplier of fuel and food to North Korea, as well as assisting in illegal exports coming out of North Korea (by air and rail). This and and access can be reduced somewhat, to pressure North Korea. But too much pressure, and the number of starving North Koreans getting into China seems to increase. That increases crime and unhappiness in northern China, which already has a large Korean minority (and always has).

October 11, 2006: Chinese weapons experts believe North Korea is still several years away from having a nuclear bomb that would work with a ballistic missile. It would also be two or more years before the North Koreans had a nuclear bomb that could be dropped from an aircraft.

October 10, 2006: China said it would not block international "punitive actions" against North Korea. This apparently includes a naval and air blockade by other nations (like the U.S). China would still supply North Korea with "humanitarian aid" (fuel and food.)

 

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