August 10, 2020

China ups security, conducts military training near N. Korea
Jang Song Taek ouster raises concerns of defections, instability in Pyongyang’s closest ally

South Korean media reported on December 10 that the People’s Republic of China has increased security in the region along the China-North Korea border in the wake of the arrest and removal of Jang Song Taek within North Korea. Also, a large unit of the Chinese military is conducting a training exercise in the border region. The Chinese are taking precautionary measures to prevent an increase in the flow of North Korean refugees or react in case the regime becomes less stable.

The Chinese government placed units of the People’s Armed Police, China’s internal and border security force, on emergency duty status in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in Jilin Province. This region, which includes the Chinese side of the Tumen River, is the primary route for North Korean defectors crossing into China. The population of the Yanbian prefecture is about 40 percent ethnically Korean, allowing for North Korean border crossers to more easily interact with and blend in among the local population, an important factor considering the Chinese policy of repatriating North Korean defectors.  On top of increasing physical security, the People’s Armed Police have heightened public security and education about the North Korean defector issue among the people in the area.