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February 14, 2013

China's Netizens React Colorfully to N. Korean Nuke Test

by Matthew Hilburn

While China’s official statement about the North Korean nuclear test was to “resolutely” oppose it, Chinese netizens erupted with opinions, many much stronger and more colorful than the official stance.

North Korea conducted its third nuclear test on February 12, despite warnings from the international community.

In the aftermath, Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like service in China, was filled with canine references about the China-North Korea relationship. One netizen wrote Pyongyang was like a “crazy dog” that had humiliated Beijing.

“Mao raised a dog to watch the door,” wrote another user. “Turns out the dog is crazy.”

“North Korea slapped China,” wrote another. “China raised a dog to bite its owner.”

“The watchdog is making trouble in front of the owner’s door,” wrote another. “But the owner can’t do anything.”

According to TeaLeafNation.com, a well respected e-magazine devoted to China, another commenter on Sina Weibo wrote, “That fatty Kim really is a mad dog,” referring to North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un. The post has since been deleted.

Others netizens called for China to stop giving aid to North Korea, and one wrote, “Every Chinese person with a conscience right now is asking: Why do we support North Korea?”

Looking on the potential positive aspect of China’s policy toward North Korea, one user wrote that China benefits because in comparison to North Korea, it doesn’t look so bad, according to TeaLeafNation.

Not so, wrote another. North Korea "simply doesn't trust China and is not willing to be inhibited by China", wrote Weibo user Zhuanshengben. "For China alone to emphasize China and North Korea's so-called friendship, this is the ultimate stupidity."

In an editorial, China’s state news agency, Xinhua, was more vocal in its condemnation of Pyongyang’s nuclear test, saying it was “another manifestation of the attempt of a desperate DPRK” to keep the threats it perceives from the U.S., Japan and South Korea “at bay.”

Experts agreed that the nuclear test was not a good development for China.

Suzanne DiMaggio, an analyst at the Asia Society in New York, told Reuters that North Korea had embarrassed China with the test.

"China's inability to dissuade North Korea from carrying through with this third nuclear test reveals Beijing's limited influence over Pyongyang's actions in unusually stark terms," she said.

Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank, also told Reuters: "The test is hugely insulting to China, which now can be expected to follow through with threats to impose sanctions."

China is North Korea's top ally and trading partner and supplies the impoverished country with crucial economic and humanitarian assistance. China also is seen as one of the few nations able to influence Pyongyang.

Additional information provided by AFP and Reuters