Some 20 North Korean defectors were arrested in China since the beginning of the months and most of them have already been sent back to the North, sources say.
"On Nov. 7, five defectors were caught by Chinese police while traveling on a bus near Beijing," a South Korean activist who supports defectors in China said. "All of them were making their way south from Tianjin in the hope of eventually reaching South Korea."
The activist said the five were swiftly repatriated only a day after their arrest and are now being questioned in the North Korean border town of Sinuiju.
Seven other defectors who had been hiding in Shenyang were arrested on Nov. 2, and 10 others in Yanji and Dandong. They were handed over to North Korean security forces via customs offices in Hyesan, Ryanggang Province and Chilsong, North Hamgyong Province, another source in China said.
A source in North Korea said that Chinese police have recently been given guidelines to handle North Korean defectors "in the same way they deal with major crimes against the state."
Since a terrorist vehicle attack in Tiananmen Square on Oct. 28, Chinese authorities have tightened surveillance in public places such as railway stations and roads in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenyang and other cities, and many more North Korean defectors have been arrested in the process, sources said.
Meanwhile, 13 defectors caught in Kunming last Friday have reportedly been transferred to Dandong. Unconfirmed rumor has it some have already been sent back to the North.