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South Korean lawmakers have demanded the Chinese regime take responsibility for North Korean refugees and stop sending them back over the border, where they face almost certain persecution. But Chinese authorities say the refugees have come for economic reasons that do not justify allowing them to stay.
The South Korean parliament has demanded the Chinese regime stop repatriating North Korean refugees, in a resolution backed by 154 lawmakers.
It follows ongoing protests in South Korea over the fate of 30 North Koreans facing deportation from China. South Korean media report nine have already been sent back.
The resolution called on the United Nations and other bodies to pressure Beijing to change its hard line toward North Korean refugees.
Tens of thousands of North Koreans have fled to the South since the 1950s with many escaping through China.
The Chinese regime defended its repatriation on Tuesday saying there was not enough evidence the 30 North Koreans had escaped for political reasons.
[Hong Lei, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman]:
"The principle reasons for their illegal entry into China were economic, there is insufficient evidence to suggest that they are so-called refugees."
The Brookings Institution says the Chinese regime does not screen North Koreans to determine whether they are at risk. They could be facing economic problems for political reasons, Brookings argues, because the North Korean regime distributes food according to political loyalty.
Reports inside North Korea say new leader Kim Jong-un has pledged to exterminate the families of those caught trying to flee, the BBC reported.