Beijing-Pyongyang: Say it through the Papers

China’s mainstream media carry short reviews of the North Korean press once in a while, frequently compiled by Xinhua. The following was republished by Enorth (Tianjin) on Saturday.

[North Korean] paper Democratic Korea (民主朝鲜) says in an article that North Korea’s self-restraint and determination and love for peace averted an armed conflict on the Korean peninsula which would have triggered all-out war. North Korea’s actions received neighboring countries’ and the international communities support, and at the same time made the international community see clearly who on the Korean peninsula was the guardian of peace, and who was the real provocateur.

Labor News (劳动新闻) says in an article that the fact that the US-South Korean provocations hadn’t turned into a all-out conflict was merely the result of  North Korea’s “self-restraint and courage”, and its “determination to maintain peace”.

Another boring Day at the Supreme Commander's Office

Another boring Day at the Supreme Commander's Office

The point about “restraint” refers to live ammunition exercises by South Korean troops on Monday, to which Pyongyang had initially threatened retaliation, but then chose to adjourn. Xinhua previously provided a North Korean press review on Tuesday, also about the current conflict and a statement that the North wouldn’t react to imperialist provocations (yet).

Adam Cathcart wondered on Monday if some of the Chinese press – which in his view is clearly more critical of Pyongyang than the China’s English-language press for foreigners’ consumption, may also aim at readers at the North Korean embassy in Beijing, i. e. if they were written for the eyes of the North Korean leadership, too.

For sure, objectives other than mere information for the general public will be ample in the Chinese press. The press may also work to make Beijing’s alliance with North Korea look more acceptible to Chinese readers. Also today, china.com (中华网) carries a short review of the Western press, citing the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times as attributing North Korean restraint to Beijing. Such reviews of the foreign press by Chinese media aren’t necessarily reliable. But quoting the WSJ and the FT sets the scene for foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu, and for quoting from her statements on a press conference on Thursday:

[...] spokeswoman Jiang Yu remained low-keyed (保持低调) vis-à-vis Western media claims about a Chinese role, saying that maintaining peace and stability on the Korean peninsula was in the interest and to the benefit of both the northern and southern sides, that it was hoped that all sides involved would keep cool minds and self-restraint, and promote the way of resumption of dialog, concerning the issues.

Classy understatement suits a relative superpower best. Which reminds me of a not so wide-spread view, according to which North Korea may really be Beijing’s mad little cop, waving around a loaded and unlocked gun, and making China look good in contrast. One probably has to turn to the Epoch Times to find that idea. The company’s barbarian, D. J. McGuire, advises his readers to fish for some more explanations for Pyongyang’s behavior.

As much as people would like to think the regime in charge of Northern Korea is a lone wolf, one is unable to control or even understand that regime is wholly dependent on the Chinese Communist Party for its survival.
Moreover, the CCP prefers its allies and satellites take full blame or credit for their antics, as it turns Beijing into the “good police state” and enables them to extract more concessions from the democratic world.

There are good reasons to doubt that China’s leaders, if there were no such North Korean regime, would tinker themselves one there. But of course, the regime in Pyongyang has its useful aspects, just as well as its downsides.

Here, too, Cathcart has a different interpretation of domestic Chinese press coverage on North Korea, and again, the target readership would be the leadership in Pyongyang: just stop the nonsense and make some money.

Meanwhile, a number of festive activities are marking the 19th anniversary of General Secretary Kim Jong Il as supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army.
And news just in: South Korea frees three Chinese fishermen.

Merry Christmas.

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