The International Observatory on Statelessness


The number of stateless persons in China is unknown, though low-end estimates state that a few thousand children of North Korean women and Chinese men are effectively stateless. According to Human Rights Watch, as many as 100,000 North Koreans live in China, predominantly in the northeastern Jilin province, the majority of them women. Many of these women have chosen to be sold into marriage with Chinese men in order to avoid being forced to return to North Korea. While Chinese law grants citizenship to a child born in China to a Chinese citizen, Chinese fathers do not register their children for fear of exposing the illegal immigration status of their North Korean partners. For such children to receive hukou, a household registration permit necessary to attend school or receive health benefits, the family must obtain a police document verifying the mother’s arrest and repatriation back to North Korea. Chinese men have reportedly presented these documents with financial bribes to obtain hukous for their children.