At approximately 4:22 pm Beijing time today, North Korea test launched yet another missile amidst a sea of international furor and condemnation after six fired earlier in the day.
Shanghaiist doesn’t pretend to be CNN, BBC, NBC or even our local New Jersey News Channel 13. But given our regional bias, we are very curious how exactly China is going to handle this sudden bout of international crisis dropped in its lap.
Of course, no country is closer to DPRK than China, being its only worthy ally to speak of. But, in recent years, even the relationship between Beijing and Pyongyang has become somewhat strained, as the China-led six nation settlement talk has yielded very little other than more delusional and belligerent rhetoric from North Korea. Just yesterday, the two nations announced that they would exchange visits by high ranking officials starting next week, with China’s vice premier Hui Liangyu traveling to Pyongyang, a move seen internationally as China’s attempt to dissuade North Korea from a possible missile launch.
Events that transpired today constitute nothing less than a loud slap in China’s face, as North Korea clearly withheld the go-ahead decision from China, and if anything used Beijing as a shield to deflect international outcry. Thankfully the Chinese don’t care too much about face saving and such, so no harm done there …
So far, China has remained mum on the issue. We have yet to see or hear any official statement of substance from either the Foreign Ministry or comments from senior party or military personnel. A scan of several popular news sites, such as Sina, Sohu and Shanghai Online reveals very little reporting on the issue, other than a news brief here and there stating the fact that North Korea has test fired several long range missiles. We particularly like this piece on Shanghai Online, with the headline, “CNN reports that North Korea has test fired three missiles, the US calling it a provocative act”. Very subtle, nicely done!
And Xinhuanet has only one brief article on the incident. It’s not very prominently displayed, either, appearing under the news of China Eastern Airlines forcing weather delayed passengers — strangers of the opposite sex — to (gasp!) share hotel rooms. Clearly this is a much bigger travesty, thus warranting more attention. FYI, the headline here reads “South Korea, Japan and the US claiming North Korea test fired missiles, Pyongyang yet to confirm”. Well, at least all Chinese news editors seem to be on the same page. Shanghaiist wonders why China has yet to detect the launch. Someone is getting fired tomorrow at People’s Liberation Army headquarters.
One last thing, to put China’s lack of response in perspective, even Russia has denounced North Korea’s provocative act today, calling it “undermining international trust in Pyongyang”.
It’s 6:42 pm, and 新闻联播, China’s nationwide nightly news program, starts in 20 minutes. We will be watching.