China Facts

China Facts: Population - Trafficking of North Korean Refugees

Our second installment of our series about China is about China's massive population, which affects many North Korean refugees who seek help in the country. China’s sheer size is its biggest strength and its biggest weakness. China is the world’s most populace country with 1.3 billion people. The United States by contrast has about 300 million people and is still the world’s third-largest country by population.

A mass revolt in China would be overwhelming for the government. The government knows this. So the sheer size of the population has been a check on the government. As we mentioned in our last post, China’s ruling class seeks to hold onto power. This has been the driving force of the country’s turn to capitalism and subsequent economic boom.

In his book, “The Party,” Richard McGregor writes that the Chinese government "is all about joining the highways of globalization, which in turn translates into greater economic efficiencies, higher rates of return, and greater political security,"

China has a giant pool of cheap labor that is more than willing to take low-wage manufacturing jobs. But it is also a challenge to feed and control a population so large.

China has taken some measures to curb the growth of its population. One of these measures is the infamous One Child Policy, which went into effect in 1979. By law, most Chinese couples cannot conceive more than one child. This policy has been relaxed several times over the course of decades but the core of it remains.


In 2010, The Economist reported a gender ratio of 275 boys for every 100 girls born in some of China’s provinces. This is almost a three-to-one ratio. What has resulted is an almost hopeless gender gap. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences stated that by the year 2020, there will be 30 to 40 million more men than women in China.

“The cruelest effects of this lopsided gender seesaw will be felt by the involuntary bachelors living in a culture in which marriage is expected,” wrote Susan Scutti in her January report in Newsweek. “These surplus men are sometimes disabled (20 percent), often illiterate, and nearly always the ones who have been left behind to live in rural communities with limited financial prospects.”

As a result, North Korean refugee women who enter China illegally have been sold to the poorest of Chinese men, many of whom are disabled.

The country that is responsible for this gender imbalance has, in effect, created this “market” for vulnerable women and on top of this, hunts these same women down and sends them back to North Korea where they will be tortured and even executed.

Crossing Borders has ministered to men and children who have lost their wives and mothers by forced repatriation. The practice leaves families devastated. Many turn to alcohol to cope.

An overwhelming majority of the North Korean refugees Crossing Borders has helped over the years have been sold to Chinese men. Some have been sold more than once.

Stay tuned for more facts about China.

China Facts: One Party - Effects on North Korean Refugees

What are the political conditions of the nation in which our North Korean refugees seek safety and shelter? China is an economic behemoth that is often difficult to understand. You might have seen reports that they're investing heavily in Africa, flexing their muscle in Hong Kong or quietly keeping North Korea afloat. But why? What is China's game plan? Why do they operate under the veil of such mystery?

Crossing Borders operates under the umbrella of the Chinese government so it is essential to understand China in order to understand the plight of the work that we do. Hopefully, our "China Facts" series will give you a better picture of how China affects North Korea and the North Korean refugees we serve.

Our first installment is about China's one party system.

China is a one-party system. The Communist Party in China rules the country. There are no conservative or liberal parties. China's government is centralized and ruled by those who are members of the Communist Party. Though it’s hard to generalize an institution so large, it is safe to say that one of the party’s main objectives is to hold onto power.

Chinese citizens have the right to vote for lower-level officials but these candidates often have to be endorsed by the party to make it to ballot. High-level officials are elected from within.

This system has given China a decided economic edge because the decision-making process is agile and the country is able to quickly respond to changes in the global economy. Where this system lags is in the area of human rights.

In their 2014 World Report, Human Rights Watch says about the country:

"Rapid socio-economic change in China has been accompanied by relaxation of some restrictions on basic rights, but the government remains an authoritarian one-party state. It places arbitrary curbs on expression, association, assembly, and religion; prohibits independent labor unions and human rights organizations; and maintains Party control over all judicial institutions."

What this means for the estimated 200,000 North Korean refugees in China is that they are granted no human rights because China sees cooperating with North Korea in their best interest. There is no legal recourse if a Chinese citizen murders a North Korean refugee.

This is why Crossing Borders has and will continue to operate underground. This is why we change the names of the people we help and the people who help them. This is why we blur the faces of the individuals we help.

Stay tuned for more facts about China.