According to a source on July 21st, an incident occurred on July 16th in North Korea's Manpo City across the border from Jian City in Jilin Sheng in which two Chinese businessmen were shot and killed by North Korean military forces. The source said, however, that both governments are seeking not to publicize the incident and it has not led to any diplomatic friction between them.
"One of the Chinese traders was called Chen and the other was called Wang. They crossed the border to collect payment from a North Korean trader with whom they had been doing business, but were caught and killed by a North Korean border guard," said the source. "The North Korean authorities claimed without offering any corroborating evidence that the deaths were accidental. More surprising was that the Chinese just accepted their explanation at face value." The source said that even though Chinese citizens' lives had been taken, it looks like they accepted the North Koreans' account as a way to eliminate conflict."
"Such incidents aren't uncommon along the border. Both sides are not unaware of them but tend to let them slide," the source explained.
Of late, it has become increasingly common for Chinese traders to find themselves in the situation of having provided goods for which they don't receive payment. So there are a significant number of Chinese businessmen who have crossed the border and are simply waiting it out in North Korean hotels until contracts are squared. The number of incidents in which these frequent travelers between China and North Korea are being apprehended and punished or even killed by North Korean soldiers has been growing.
However the North Korean government has been treating these incidents as ordinary accidents as would occur with regular tourists and been explaining away willful murders as heart attacks or traffic accidents. Possibly because it doesn't wish for such cases to turn into diplomatic or international human rights incidents drawing the ire of third party nations, the Chinese government is not making an issue of them and basically hushing them up.
"This shows what a tight relationship the North Korean and Chinese governments have," said the source. "Because the countries' respective elites share so much common ground they take a highly disinterested attitude towards incidents in which the human rights of private individuals are infringed or abused."
"In China in November 2010, some South Koreans and some North Koreans were caught smuggling drugs," the source said, relating a telling similar case. "The North Koreans--maybe through a relationship they had with a Chinese official, I can't be sure--got off scot free, whereas the South Koreans had to bribe Chinese officials to secure their release. If they hadn't had the money to buy their way out, they would have been dealt with according to Chinese law and been facing substantial jail time."
"The situation is one," finished the source, "in which Chinese people go to North Korea as businessmen and come back as corpses and can't even appeal to their own government. It has stoked real anti-North Korean feelings amongst the Chinese people."
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