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China building border fence facing North Korea

[JURIST] China [JURIST news archive] is building a large barbed wire and concrete fence along parts of its border with North Korea [JURIST news archive], according to farmers and visitors in the area. A Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman refused to comment or release information on border security. But experts and an official speaking on condition of anonymity told the Associated Press the project was approved in 2003 and is being spearheaded by the military. While North Korea and China have long enjoyed amicable relations, the border has become a growing security concern over the past decade as thousands of refugees from North Korea [JURIST news archive] took advantage of the lightly guarded border to enter China illegally. China [JURIST news archive] also may be trying to mark its border with North Korea along the Tumen and Yalu Rivers, Professor Kim Woo-jun of the Institute of East and West Studies in Seoul told AP. He said China and North Korea drew their border in a secret treaty that was never reported to the United Nations [official website]. AP has more.

Once largely identified with the notorious and now-demolished Berlin Wall [Wikipedia backgrounder], so-called "security fences" are increasingly used by nations worried that their borders may be compromised. In September the US Congress passed [JURIST report] the Secure Fence Act of 2006 [HR 6061 text, PDF], authorizing construction of a 700-mile fence along the US-Mexico border [JURIST news archive] to curb illegal immigration into the United States; the US Department of Homeland Security also plans to put up an electronic "virtual fence" [JURIST report] along the 49th parallel [Wikipedia backgrounder] line facing Canada, traditionally hailed as the world's longest "undefended border." Israel has built a security fence [official website; JURIST news archive] to prevent unauthorized movement of people from the Gaza Strip across the line established after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Recently, Saudi Arabia announced plans to build a 900-kilometer fence [Aljazeera report] along its border with Iraq to improve security.

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