China Facts: North Korea as a Buffer Zone - North Korean Refugees

How does China's continuing political relationship with North Korea affect North Korean refugees? The Korean peninsula is still at war. No peace agreement has been signed as fighting between North and South stopped in 1953. There are about 29,000 US troops and marines currently stationed in South Korea. South Korea adds about 655,000 active troops to this force.

The Demilitarized Zone (or DMZ), which splits North and South Korea, is currently the most militarized border in the world.

For China to continue to grow economically, they must maintain stability. What this means is simple: No war.

Korean Military forces
Korean Military forces

China wants to keep this military standoff, involving not only the Koreas, but the United states, as far from its borders as possible.

"For the Chinese, stability and the avoidance of war are the top priorities," Daniel Sneider, the associate director for research at Stanford's Asia-Pacific Research Center, told the Council on Foreign Relations.

China has many interests in North Korea as a strategic partner, none of these interests are in the people who have been suffering since the mid-1990s, many of whom have, as North Korean refugees, come into their borders in search for help. It is, in fact, in the best interests of the Chinese government to reject the North Korean refugees who cross into China, as its desire to appease North Korea as their buffer zone is greater than its desire to harbor North Korean immigrants.