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Jihwan Hwang

China’s engagement with issues of human rights in relation to the population of North Korea presents a key puzzle in understanding how China seeks to achieve security through development on the Korean Peninsula. On the one hand, China actively champions the need to respect and not hinder or negatively affect the population of North Korea in the imposition of UN. On the other hand, China vocally opposes the discussion of issues of human rights in the DPRK within the Security Council and repatriates people who cross the border between North Korea and China, against the guidance of the UN Human Rights Council and the Report of the Commission of Inquiry. How then is it possible to understand these two – apparently contradictory – policies by China? This chapter argues that arising from this puzzle there is a normative gap between the approach of South Korea and China towards supporting the population in North Korea, even though both states adopt policies of providing aid and assistance to the regime in Pyongyang. At its heart, this ‘ideas gap’ presents a fundamental problem in overcoming the strategic and policy divisions between Beijing and Seoul.