While working in Dalian, China I’ve been somewhat isolated from U.S. and Canadian new sources, resulting in a somewhat different perspective on world events. Sometimes I regret this, other times I grateful for the different bias.
Not too far from Dalian is Dandong – a city sitting immediately next to the Chinese – DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or North Korea) border. Because of the proximity of North Korea, many Chinese people have been paying close attention to the rumblings between it and the U.S. The general feeling is that while North Korea is not acting wisely, the U.S. is being belligerent and underhanded.
On October 21, 1994, after North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty of 1985, the US and North Korea signed the Agreed Framework for the denuclearization of North Korea. Under the Agreed Framework, North Korea was to dismantle it’s facilities at Yongbyon and Taechon, and in return the U.S. was to provide North Korea with 500,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil annually to make up for the energy foregone by dismantling of the nuclear power plants. Although this program resulted in the disabling of one graphite-moderated reactor and one plutonium reprocessing facility, the halting of the construction of two more sites, and the canning of eight-thousand spent fuel rods (thereby preventing them from being reprocessed for weapons-grade material), the US has long suspected North Korea of secretly running a uranium enrichment program.
Recently, citing proof of such a program, the United States included North Korea in its “Axis of Evil” and stopped providing the fuel, attempting to force North Korea into abandoning its attempts to become a nuclear power. Unfortunately, part of this program includes media-based attacks – attacks on the North Korean lifestyle, something which many Chinese people disagree with.
Many U.S. news sources are trying to paint North Korea as a country collapsing because of its financial instability. Such stories refer to farmers with little to eat, and people dying on the streets of North Korean cities. Popular opinion in China, is that the U.S. is ignoring the fact that people also die on U.S. streets, and that the U.S. is being patronizing a country which resembles China in many ways.
For North Korea’s part – many North Koreans are also offended by U.S. media and claim that the U.S. was the first to abandon the Agreed Framework, and has targeted North Korea for preemptive nuclear attack. Additionally, many North Koreas are taking umbrage at other aspects of U.S. culture – for example the latest James Bond movie “Die Another Day” reflects Korea in a very negative way, emphasizing the division between South and North Korea. North Korea news sources are accusing the U.S. and U.S. supporters of trying to hinder the reunification of Korea. This has led to the North Korean government to release the slogan “Let us bring earlier the independent reunification by the concerted efforts of our nation” and begin urging its citizens to unite against the American attempts to undermining the Korean nations.
As the U.S. continues its War on Terrorism, the combination of the U.S.’s “playground bully” foreign policy and North Korea’s pride are fueling already unstable situation, a situation most Chinese feel is too close to home.