07/26/2006, 00.00
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For first time, Beijing allows North Koreans to head for US

Political analysts say this is a way of showing dissatisfaction about the missile tests on 4 July. There may also be delays in sending food aid.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – For the first time, the Chinese government has allowed North Korean refugees to seek asylum in the United States: the move has been read by political analysts as a sign of Beijing's dissatisfaction with Pyongyang for its missile tests two weeks ago.

The three refugees – their names were not publicized – left for the United States on Saturday 22 July, after managing to enter a US consulate in the northeastern city of Shenyang in May. Beijing previously allowed only high-profile dissidents fleeing the regime led by Kim Jong-il to leave its territory to seek asylum in third countries.

Prof. Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, lecturer of political science at the City University of Hong Kong, said he believed the decision was "another way in which the Chinese government wants to put pressure on North Korea to return to the six-party talks. There may well be delays in sending food aid and energy supplies to Pyongyang."

Today's news came together with confirmation that North Korean assets had been frozen by the Bank of China in its Macau branch. This move had been foreseen by the South Korean press, however it preceded the 4 July missiles and it is therefore linked to international pressure to make Pyongyang return to the six-party talks

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