North Korea’s state media—run by head of Propaganda and Agitation at the Korean Workers’ Party, Kim Yo-jong—took a rare stab at the Chinese government for allegedly “seriously spoiling the atmosphere” of a meeting between North and South Korean officials.
Rodong Sinmun, the state newspaper, referred to Chinese state media as “despicable” for quoting some experts who suggested that any talks between North and South Korea must include a conversation about the North’s illegal nuclear weapons program.
“Call a spade a spade. It is very despicable of those Chinese media to mess with their neighbor’s event, far from offering congratulations to it,” Rodong decrees.
“China’s experts and media … now shun the present positive development of the situation and are arguing for and against while setting the DPRK’s participation in the Winter Olympics against its strategic issue. How can such behavior be interpreted as an act of allegedly ‘disinterested’ neighbors,” the newspaper asks.
Rodong Sinmun cites several examples of Chinese government media experts stating that “the international community is expecting the DPRK to show greater sincerity and concession over the denuclearization issue,” a relatively benign remark from a nation responsible for 90 percent of North Korea’s foreign trade. Rodong also objected to China’s Global Times—the most belligerent of China’s English-language media—quoting an expert suggesting “that restoring inter-Korean relations without touching on the nuclear issue is unsustainable and fragile.”
Referring to all of Chinese media as “screwballs feeling dissatisfaction with the north and the south of Korea,” the paper concludes that China is “seriously spoiling the atmosphere” of the bilateral summit between the two Koreas.
The language used against China, North Korea’s closest ally, resembles that typically reserved for North Korea’s greatest enemy, the United States. In comparison, Rodong Sinmun accused Vice President Mike Pence, who is also attending the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies, of having “let out a torrent of abuse pointing an accusing finger at the others’ event, instead of just sitting to watch it as a guest. His behavior is nothing but an ugly sight being reminded of crazy Trump.”
Pence sat silently throughout the event, applauding the teams as they entered and standing for the United States. He did not address Kim Yo-jong, seated diagonally behind him, at the event at all.
“We never sent the high-level delegation to south Korea in order to create the possibility of a dialogue with Americans by meeting them who are not worth human beings,” Rodong Sinmun charged after Pence ignored Kim.
Chinese state media have not yet responded to being excoriated by their North Korean counterparts. In a report this week, the Global Times instead complimented North Korea on extending an invite to South Korean President Moon Jae-in to visit the country, calling it a “positive signal for peace.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry also confirmed that Chinese officials met with North Korean delegates in South Korea this weekend. Asked about the invite to Moon on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said, “China welcomes and supports the recent talks and cooperation between the DPRK and the ROK on the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games. The DPRK and the ROK descend from the same nationality.”
China also supported Moon’s efforts to incorporate North Korea into the Winter Olympics. “China supports the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the Republic of Korea (ROK) in fostering trust, building consensus, and finding solutions through dialogue,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement in January.
China has nonetheless appeared to begun planning for a potential catastrophe on the other side of its border with North Korea. In the border town of Jilin, state media have distributed materials teaching locals how to protect themselves in the event of a nuclear event. China has reportedly begun drawing up plans for mass refugee camps on its border with the country and moved 300,000 troops closer to the border this month.