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October 2002, Volume 9, Number 10

China: Migrants

North Korean asylum-seekers continued to enter foreign embassies in Beijing, despite efforts of Chinese police to prevent entry into the area where most embassies are located. China treats the thousands of North Koreans living in its northeast as economic migrants, and refuses to allow UNHCR to interview them. China is obligated by treaty to send North Koreans home.

On September 11, 2001, the Chinese government allowed 36 North Koreans in a German school and at the South Korean Embassy to leave for South Korea. It was the largest one-day exodus of North Koreans. In the first eight months of 2002, 729 North Koreans went to South Korea, up from 146 in 2001. Human rights groups say up to 300,000 North Koreans may be living illegally among ethnic Koreans in northeast China.

Taiwan. Taiwan announced in September 2002 that it would stop expelling foreign woman workers when they become pregnant while working in Taiwan. There are some 168,000 female foreign workers in Taiwan, accounting for 54 percent of the foreign workers in Taiwan.

Taiwan is increasing imports of guest workers from Vietnam, but complains of a high runaway rate- three percent of Vietnamese guest workers leave the employers to whom they are assigned.

Joe McDonald, "North Korean refugees leave Beijing," Associated Press, September 11, 2002. Jonathan Ansfield, "Germany, China begin mulling fate of 15 N. Koreans," Reuters, September 4, 2002.