Recent days have been bleeding into one another, swiftly, with a kind of inexorable momentum that allows for little reflection of the past. Nowhere does this seem more true than in recent news about North Korea, and the Chinese view of the DPRK.
Just when China seems to have settled things down and made nice with the North, to the apparent disappointment of Washington, Pyongyang up and revalues its currency, apparently with no forewarning given to Beijing.
You can typically tell when China is upset about a given North Korean policy, because they quote South Korean or Japanese newsmedia like crazy, or, if the Chinese are really displeased, the Daily NK and Good Friends reports. Which is exactly what they do in this article from the Huanqiu Shibao on the currency revaluation.
Commentary from Chinese netizens seems fairly slow on this issue at the moment, although Juchechosunmanse may end up hauling up a cache from some BBS I’ve not beheld on Sina.com or another Chinese portal. One comment here on the Huanqiu board is that “[North Korea] studied this policy from the old Chinese Nationalist government. Truly, they’re just printing money.” The Korean Workers’ Party as the Guomindang! That’s fresh. Other comments brush aside the currency change and mock North Korea for its barter economy.
On the same story, Curtis Melvin of North Korean Economy Watch offers extensive extracts from NYT, WaPo, Wall Street Journal, AFP, and Yonhap.
In this story from December 1, Huanqiu Shibao offers a disapproving headline on the currency story, noting that it “caused huge chaos in markets” [朝鲜停止使用原有货币引发市场大混乱]. In post-Deng China, that’s a sin!
Not that this news is causing huge waves in areas of China more distant from North Korea. Not when that dashing Canadian Prime Minister is in town to get some action on the Albertan tar sands project…
Things have been pretty slow over at the Chinese embassy in Pyongyang’s website since the PLA generals left town. (Some netizen mockery of North Korean military attire and the staged embraces can be accessed here.) However, I did learn that Liu Xiaoming, the dapper Chinese ambassador to the DPRK, is fluent in English and has a master’s degree from Tufts University in Boston. I can’t imagine he is doing anything but clucking his tongue at these latest moves in the North.