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China to oppose referral of U.N. report on N. Korea to ICC

China said Monday it would not back a reported recommendation by U.N. investigators to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, adding that such a move would not help improve the human rights situation in the country.

Wrapping up a year-long investigation, the three-member U.N. Commission of Inquiry is set to release the results of their investigation into North Korea's human rights situation in Geneva on Monday, with leaked versions of the report indicating that the North's regime has committed crimes against humanity.

The report would mark the clearest indictment against North Korea's ruling dynasty and the U.N. panel reportedly plans to refer the case to the ICC in the Hague, setting the stage for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to be charged with crimes against humanity.

Asked whether China would block a reported plan by the U.N. panel to submit the case to the ICC, China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters, "Submitting this report to the ICC will not help resolve the human rights situation in the relevant country."

"On the issue of human rights, we always maintain that issues concerning human rights should be solved through a constructive dialogue on an equal footing," Hua said.

China is North Korea's key ally and economic lifeline.

Pyongyang has long been labeled one of the worst human rights violators in the world. The regime does not tolerate dissent, holds hundreds of thousands of people in political prison camps and keeps tight control over outside information.

While North Korea has officially denied the existence of political prison camps, Pyongyang is believed to have up to 200,000 people in hidden, Soviet-style gulags where torture and executions are routine and starvation is widespread. (Yonhap)

Korea Herald daum