How Russia and China can help the World deal with North Korea

Originally published at willch.org on July 12, 2017.


China and Russia both share a border with North Korea.

Both of these nations could help the situation in North Korea with a simple change of policy regarding asylum seekers and immigration.

(quoting from The Diplomat)

“China has the strictest policy toward North Korean defectors and takes active measures to locate and repatriate any found within its borders.”

“Russia has never been sympathetic to North Korean refugees, granting permanent asylum to only two between 2004 and 2014. ”

Neither country is particularly kind to North Korean defectors. Russia and China are making a mistake both morally and politically by not at a minimum allowing defectors from North Korea to have safe passage to another country that considers them refugees or can turn the defectors over to South Korea.

They Don’t Have to Stay

While it would be nice, China and Russia should not necessarily be obliged to allow North Korean defectors to stay permanently. It is understandable why China and Russia don’t want millions of unskilled North Koreans flooding across their borders, especially considering the fact that North Korea is an unpredictable hermit kingdom with missiles. It is understandable why the governments of China and Russia would not be thrilled about making huge numbers of defectors into permanent residents.

A Political Win

Even if the governments of China and Russia don’t have any compassion for North Korean refugees, allowing defectors to travel through China and Russia could be used as a political defense against claims of cruelty towards North Korean defectors.

The more defectors that escape, the better for intelligence. More defectors escaping means more opportunities to potentially gather intel on the hermit kingdom. North Korea is so closed off that getting intelligence from people who actually lived there should be of high value. More defectors leaving means more chances to know more about North Korea.

Helping the Desperate

Normally resorting to an argument that something is “the right thing to do” is not all that intellectually interesting. This is one case where the morality argument actually holds some value.

North Korean defectors are trying to escape one of the worst countries in the world with one of the worst governments in power today. The Chinese and Russian governments should realize that North Korean defectors are truly desperate. There are no false sob stories here. If Russia and China were to allow North Korean defectors to travel to a country that accepts them as refugees, truly desperate people would benefit.

Figuring out how to deal and interact with North Korea is not easy. Caution is needed due to North Korea having missiles.

Russia and China, North Korea’s northern neighbors, could help the situation with North Korea by allowing fleeing defectors to travel through China and Russia to a country that will accept them.

This allowance of safe travel for defectors would not only be a political win but a moral act for people fleeing the most oppressive government on earth.