Fresh from a session with Bruce Cumings at the University of Washington (more on his speech tomorrow, including photographs), I’m posting a few links to dispel the notion that Kim Jong Il’s visit to the PRC is proceeding, as the LA Times asserted, under “a media blackout.”
Huanqiu Shibao now carries a rather fatty newspage exclusively devoted to Kim’s visit:
Kim is now reported to be in Tianjin studying economic concerns, a fact voiced as “South Korean media reports,” but reported prevalently in China nevertheless. The same was true for his trip to Dalian, the “Hong Kong of the North.”
As for netizen response to Kim’s visit, this posting on the Huanqiu discussion boards gives quite a bit of speculation, but hasn’t garnered much response. The comments rolling in on the recent news stories are a mixed bag. Some welcome Kim, others note that traffic in Dalian is completely stuffed, thus blaming the Dear Leader for popular inconvenience, while others say more criticallly, “没人愿意和流氓打交道。学了也没用 [No person wants to establish relations with a hooligan; there’s no use in even studying it].”
In other news, Margaret Chan’s favorable assessment of health care systems in Pyongyang got some play in the Chinese media (with critical netizen responses arguing Chan was hoodwinked, and others focusing on poor quality of rural health care), and Huanqiu further reports that Iran has now invited Kim Jong Il to Tehran to discuss economic cooperation.
Huanqiu Shibao has several Kim Jong Il reports, but other outlets such as China Youth Daily have nothing, and the Huanqiu’s main competition for circulation in the Beijing foreign affairs color tabloid market, Qingnian Cankao (青年参考 / Elite Reference), has only an interesting story about internal assessments of North Korea’s inability to strike at and occupy all of the ROK.
For some insightful complaints (with which I can disagree) about China’s inability to change course with North Korea, don’t miss this post on One Free Korea. But as complaints go, few are more interesting than these netizen comments decrying Xinhua’s slight of hand in reporting the story of Kim Jong Il’s visit. “What era is this anyway?” one asks. Reliance on foreign media reports for things happening inside of China may somehow keep the North Koreans happy, but it isn’t passing without notice in China.