Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Press Conference on the Break-in of the South Korean Embassy
On June 14, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Liu Jianchao held a special news briefing on the break-in of the visa office of the South Korean Embassy by North Koreans. He noted, at 10:35 a.m. of June 13 two unidentified people attempted to enter the visa office of the South Korean Embassy. They were found holding covers of South Korean passports by the security guards hired by the Embassy and their entry was denied. The two then tried to force their way into the Embassy and confronted with the guards hired by the Embassy. The latter asked the security guards of the apartment where the visa office is located for assistance. Still, one broke into the office, the other was taken to the guard-house outside the office building. The security guards of the office building then called the police immediately. After receiving the report the public security staff made their way there in time. They were blocked by several South Korean diplomats when they tried to take the unidentified person away from the guard house to open their investigation. The public security official in charge at the site made representations with the South Korean Consul General, asking them not to obstruct the duties of the Chinese side. At three o'clock in the afternoon, Director-General Luo Tianguang of the Department of the Consular Affairs of the Foreign Ministry had an emergency meeting with South Korean Minister Kim Eun Soo, expressing strong dissatisfaction to the fact that the Chinese public security personnel was blocked brazenly by South Korean diplomats from carrying out their duties. He demanded an immediate withdrawal of the South Korean diplomats. The blocking went on for 5 hours during which the Chinese public security staff demonstrated maximum patience. They had to take measures to take that person away at four o'clock after repeated persuasion and warning ended in vain.
Since several unidentified persons broke into the visa office of the South Korean Embassy on May 23, the South Korean side has made it clear that it doesn't want, nor does it hope persons of that kind to enter the visa office of the South Korean Embassy. It has asked on various occasions through diplomatic channels for Chinese assistance in preventing them from entering the embassy.
However, when the security guards of the office building offered their help upon the request of security guards hired by South Korea in preventing the unidentified persons from entering the office so as to ensure the safety and order of the office building, the South Korean side turned a blind eye to reality and pointed a finger of blame at them. China finds it hard to interpret.
What is more serious is that when the public security staff tried to carry out their duties on Chinese territories, several South Korean diplomats abused their privilege, paid no heed to China's solemn representation and repeated persuasion and warning and brazenly prevented the Chinese public security staff from implementing their duties. Their activities are extremely incompatible with their capacity as diplomats and violate the international norms, which China expresses its strong dissatisfaction.
What's worth noting is that the recent successive intrusions into foreign embassies by illegal North Korean immigrants have posed a serious threat to the safety of the foreign embassies and consulates in China. These incidents are by no means accidental, instead, they are results of the planning and instigation of some organizations and individuals in South Korea and some other countries. They also have relations with the orientation of the policy of South Korea. China has always been handling such cases with caution and restraints. With no respect of China's good will, South Korea continues to adopt an encouraging and conniving policy. Its diplomats even went this far to brazenly obstruct the Chinese public security staff from fulfilling their duties, which China feels deeply regrettable.
China has always attached importance to its relations with South Korea and handled problems between the two sides with prudence. We demand that the South Korean side respect the facts, act with calmness, proceed from the friendly relations of the two sides and adopt a cooperative attitude so as to work with China in solving the problem properly.
Q: You mentioned the orientation of the policy of South Korea. Does it mean that South Korea should not allow those North Koreans enter its premise? Or that China is going to press the South Korean side to change its current policy?
A: The recent cases of intrusion have severely endangered the safety of the Embassy of South Korea and other Countries as well as the public order and stability of China. China has demanded positive measures from the South Korean side in preventing its non-governmental organizations from arranging more North Koreans to enter China. This will help to find a solution to the problem. Yet the South Korean side shows little respect to China's good will and continues to adopt an encouraging and conniving policy. Its diplomats went this far to brazenly obstruct the Chinese law-enforcement staff from carrying out their duties. China wishes to express its strong dissatisfaction and regret.
Q: Could you give us more details on the two types of security guards, those hired by South Korea and those of the apartment?
A: It was the security guards employed by South Korea who discovered that unidentified people attempted to break into the visa office of the South Korean Embassy. They found that the two persons held the cover of the South Korean passport and denied their entry. At the same time they saught assistance from the security guards of the Tayuan Apartment. The latter helped them take one away from the visa office. I'd like to note that the security guards of the Apartment are not public servants. Nor are they law-enforcement staff of the Chinese Government. They are employed by private security service companies. I'd also like to stress that even though the security guards of the Apartment took one intruder away, they didn't enter the visa office of the South Korean Embassy.
Q: How is China going to do with the North Korean who has been taken away from the Embassy?
A: Public security departments have opened an investigation upon him at this moment. According to what he said about himself, he entered China five times and was sent back to North Korea twice. It's his sixth time to be in China.
Q: From yesterday's pictures, Chinese public security staff used force against South Korean diplomats, tearing apart their clothes and throwing them onto the ground. To what level can Chinese public security personnel use force against diplomats?
A: The pictures I have seen tell me that the South Korean diplomats were blocking Chinese public security staff from carrying out their duties. First and foremost, the Chinese public security personnel are free to carry out normal duties on Chinese territories, which bares no foreign interference. Second, the South Korean diplomats have done things incompatible with their capacity by blocking Chinese public security staff from carrying out their normal duties, which is a serious violation of the international law. Third, China made five-hour-long representations with the South Korean side, trying to persuade the latter to withdraw its diplomats so that the normal duties can be carried out. Yet the South Korean side paid no heed to China's advice. In as long as five hours, the Chinese public security personnel demonstrated maximum patience and sincerity in settling the problem but failed to get a positive response from the other side. Under such condition, they had to take measures to take the unidentified person away.
Q: Did the Chinese security guard enter the South Korean Embassy to take the North Koreans out of the embassy? Has that North Korean citizen enter the Visa Office of the South Korean Embassy?
A: As far as I have learnt, the two unidentified people, who held false passports, were stopped by the security guard hired by the embassy while trying to enter the Visa Office of the South Korean Embassy. In their confrontation, the embassy-employed security guard asked the security guard of the apartment outside the embassy for assistance to take the unidentified person out of the embassy. The security guard of the apartment did not enter the Visa Office of the South Korean Embassy.
These two North Koreans are father and son. The son broke into the Visa Office, and the father was taken away to the guardhouse of the office building.
Q: Was it the order of the Foreign Ministry or the decision of the public security departments to take the North Korean out of the guardhouse?
A: This is the necessary action taken by the Chinese public security staff to ensure the security of foreign embassies in China and to open an investigation on the unidentified people who attempted to force to enter the embassy.
Q: Could you brief us on how the North Korean was taken from the Visa Office to the guardhouse?
A: In the confrontation between the security guard employed by the embassy and the unidentified person who attempted to force to enter the embassy, the former asked the security guard of the apartment on duty outside the apartment for assistance. Under such conditions, the security guard took one of the people away by force. I would like to reiterate that due to many cases of unidentified people breaking into the visa office of the South Korean Embassy since May 23, the South Korean side has clearly informed the Chinese side that they did not like or hope to see such cases, and has asked the Chinese side on many occasions through diplomatic channels for assistance to stop such people from entering the embassy.
Q: The South Korean side has asked China to hand over the North Koreans to them. What's China's response? Is China going to repatriate these North Koreans within the Chinese territory?
A: For your first question, in the first place, China will not hand over the North Korean to South Korea. The request of the Sough Korean side is unreasonable and groundless. Second, China will deal with the North Korean according to the international law, China's domestic laws and in a humanitarian spirit.
As for your second question, the Chinese side has exercised actual control over the China-DPRK border, and has handled relevant issues according to the international law, China's domestic laws, relevant agreements between the two sides and in a humanitarian spirit. The North Koreans that illegally entered Chinese territory have traveled back and forth between China and North Korea for many times - even for 12 times in some cases. The North Korean in this case has traveled between the two countries for 6 times. Some of them went back by themselves, and some of them were repatriated by the Chinese side when discovered and then entered China again illegally.
Q: Some North Koreans claimed that if repatriated, they would be prosecuted or even sentenced to death. Is it in the humanitarian spirit to send them back to North Korea?
A: China has surely handled the cases in a humanitarian spirit. As I have mentioned just now, many of them have been repatriated and entered China for many times. The situation is not as bad as many foreign media have reported.
Q: You just mentioned that since May 23, many North Koreans have entered the South Korean Embassy, and South Korea has on many occasions asked China for assistance through diplomatic channels to prevent such cases from happening. You also mentioned that in yesterday's event, South Korean diplomats obstructed the official duty of Chinese security staff. Is this contradictory?
A: This is also what we feel difficult to understand. So I suggest you ask officials of the South Korean Embassy why they did this.
Q: In the confrontation, did the father enter the South Korean Embassy?
A: You should ask the South Korean diplomats for the answer. If the security guard of the apartment had entered the embassy, I believe that the son would also have been taken out of the Visa Office. This is rather clear. I would like to reemphasize that the security guard of the apartment took action at the request of the security guard employed by South Korea to help the latter take the person away from the Visa Office.
Q: Why has CCTV blocked the transmission of relevant information by the foreign media through satellites?
A: It is a pity that you did not join the visit to CCTV organized by our International Press Center. If you had, you would have been able to asked relevant staff members of CCTV.
Q: Do the Chinese public security staff involved in the investigation have the knowledge whether or not this North Korean entered the South Korean Embassy?
A: As far as I have learnt, the Chinese public security personnel arrived on the spot after the apartment security guard called the police. The security guard employed by the embassy discovered that these two people held the covers of South Korean passports at the gate of the Visa Office before he stopped them.
Q: Is the apartment security guard involved in this case provided by the Chinese side?
A: According to my knowledge, there are many non-governmental security service companies in Beijing. As for which company they work for, you may make an inquiry to the Tayuan Apartment.
Q: It is known that armed police are responsible for the security of foreign embassies in China. Were there any armed police outside the Visa Office of the embassy?
A: The security guard involved in the case is employed by the party concerned to ensure the security of the apartment. China has made strenuous efforts to ensure the security of foreign embassies and consulates in China and their daily work. The vast majority of the foreign embassies and consulates in China have expressed their gratitude to that.
As for whether there were armed police on the spot or not, I have no knowledge of the situation at that time. As far as I know, no armed police has been involved. But I want to point out that the Chinese side has always been protecting the foreign embassies and consulates in China.
Q: Can you come into details about the two types of security guards? Are there any entirely non-governmental security service companies in China?
A: As far as I know, there are two types of security guards involved in the case. One is employed by South Korea, and the other by the apartment. Many office buildings and apartment buildings, including the one where I live, hire such security guards. They are neither civil servants nor law enforcement personnel. They belong to non-governmental companies. You may make inquiries to the Tayuan Apartment for further information about which specific company they are from.