SEOUL, Aug. 8 (UPI) — China is taking a more active role in repatriating North Korean refugees as relations between Beijing and Seoul have deteriorated in recent weeks over the deployment of THAAD.
A source in North Hamgyong province told South Korean news service Daily NK two North Korean women in their 30s who left from Musan country in early August were repatriated after a resident in China reported them to authorities.
The repatriation is a break from a trend toward “looking the other way” when North Korean defectors make their way into China, the source said.
Chinese security officers now encourage local residents to report defectors, providing award money to Chinese citizens who turn in undocumented North Koreans.
The policy has resulted in an increase of arrests and decreased chances of a successful defection, the source said.
The source also said the new measures are connected to a recent trend by the government in Beijing to come to North Korea’s defense as China has grown increasingly critical of Seoul’s decision to deploy a U.S. anti-missile defense system on the peninsula.
“The Chinese government is showing behavior that is advantageous to North Korea,” the source said.
Chinese public security officials are offering $150 to individuals reporting a defector. For Chinese citizens who directly apprehend and turn in a defector, the award is $300, the source said.
There is also a fine of $450 for anyone assisting a North Korea refugee, according to the report.