Sino-Japanese Relations in Global Context, and Chinese North Korea News

Reflecting that publication’s obsession with India and incorporating a more traditional foe, today’s Huanqiu Shibao carries an article on India’s assessment of Sino-Japanese naval rivalries. The recent moves toward historical reconciliation with Japan –which themselves are not without controversy — simply can’t hold back the onrushing tide of rising powers in the Pacific and Indian oceans…In the meantime, Huanqiu continues its photo galleries of Japanese having fun, but no one really cares to comment on the repetition.  Much more active on the BBS front in China is this post regarding a recent NHK (Japanese TV) documentary about the extension of Chinese power in Africa.

Netizen comments on the Africa story range from the naive (“Africa can rely on China, because in China there is no discrimination toward black people”) to the thankful (“Without African friends, there would be no China today as we know it”), but there is also some predictable criticism of Japan, including “Japan’s evil accusations of China immorally devouring African people’s resources.”  Although there’s no way to be sure (unlike on comments on Huanqiu newsstories, where deleted comments always at least are replaced by a “Please be a civilized netizen” reminder), it seems that this particular conversation is missing a bit of the edginess we tend to associate with netizen comments, particularly when stories combine two great passions (Japanese desire to contain China and anger at the “Western/foreign media” for criticizing China’s cooperation with Africa.)

And yesterday I opened up the Xinhua main page to learn that by 2020, China anticipates having at least 24 million eligible bachelors, indicating that sex ratios remain seriously off-kilter and that the market for North Korean refugee brides in Jilin will likely remain strong.  More interesting was the featured photo-article of North Korean government officials acting normal, in the wintertime socialist sense, anyway, doing some “Friday volunteer labor.”  The fellow on the right, wielding the hammer in statuesque fashion, seems to be clad in North Korean vintage vinylon (even in Kim Jong Il’s favorite shade), while the ladies behind him most likely have jackets that are made in China.

Xinhua, via KCNA

Xinhua also carries a bloodless dispatch on American media reports on signs that North Korea is opening Rajin/Rason for foreign trade.  For today, at least, the Chinese state media seems to be going easy on the DPRK, probably because of the January 1 Nodong Sinmun editorial describing the DPRK’s expressed desire to move towards peace with the United States.  It must a fascinating experience to be a Xinhua reporter in Pyongyang: the two correspondents, Gao Haorong and Zhang Binyang [高浩荣 + 张滨阳] sometimes have the latitude to write downright snarky dispatches about North Korea’s fake elections (one absolutely priceless Huanqiu article about those elections in Huanqiu 2008 really ought to be translated as required reading), but on days like January 7, it seems their main job is pass along the Nodong Sinmun line.

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