Satellites and Sanctions: KCNA Goes Quiet on China
One-month removed from death of Kim Jong Il, the Korean Central News Agency reported fewer stories about developments in China and Chinese-Korean relations during the week of 15 January – 21 January 2012. The KCNA paid lip service to Chinese technological developments and offered support to the PRC’s stance on international issues (Iranian sanctions), and highlighted positive bilateral developments vis-a-vis the work of the Chinese Embassy in Pyongyang and the Korean community living in China. – Charles Kraus, Managing Editor
by Evan Koepfler
KCNA published only five China related stories during the week of 15 January – 21 January 2012. Compared to previous weeks, some of which saw more than 20 China-related stories published, this week represents a steep drop in coverage of the PRC. It is possible that there were no major developments in China which KCNA deemed fit to publish, but in the massive and ever-changing country that is China, this seems unlikely.
The first story published this week details the launch of China’s new meteorological satellite. This news marks the second Chinese satellite launched into orbit in the past five days, and demonstrates that China is increasingly focused on technological advancement as it pursues its “Peaceful Rise.” This particular satellite will be used mainly to gather meteorological, maritime, and water information.
The second story of the week discusses the award ceremony for Miao Weicheng [缪卫诚], the councilor of the Chinese Embassy in Pyongyang. The award, the DPRK Order of Friendship, was given to Miao at the Mansudae Assembly Hall, and in attendance were, “Yang Hyong Sop, vice-president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, Kim Song Nam, vice department director of the C.C., the Workers’ Party of Korea, officials concerned, Chinese Ambassador to the DPRK Liu Hongcai and his embassy officials.” This story shows Sino-DPRK friendship on a more localized level. It also illustrates the importance of events such as these to the leaders on both sides, highlighted by the attendance of Yang Hyong Sop and Liu Hongcai, among others.
Thirdly, KCNA published a story detailing the activities of Koreans in China and their support for the Joint New Year Editorial published in North Korea. The story suggests that Koreans living in China still support the leadership in the DPRK, and by extension the transition in power from Kim Jong Il to Kim Jong Un.
The fourth story published this week also dealt with Koreans in China and their continuing glorification of Kim Jong Il after his death. This story is one of many to come out over the past several weeks reminding the Korean people of their late leader as the country moves forward into a new area headed by Kim Jong Un.
Finally, the last story China story published this week denounced U.S. sanctions of the Chinese company Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp. for continued cooperation with Iran in energy, economic and trade matters. China also denounced the U.S. and its attempt to “internationalize its unilateral sanction measures against Iran,” which China has continued to defy.