by WorldTribune Staff, February 23, 2017
North Korea has turned its loud propaganda guns on two friendly nations in the wake of the public assassination of dictator Kim Jong-Un’s half brother which apparently prompted Beijing to cut off its cash-for-coal trade ties with Pyongyang.
North Korean media took aim at China in a state-media commentary published on Feb. 23 after having earlier slammed Malaysia when authorities in Kuala Lumpur identified a North Korean embassy official and a state-owned airline employee among seven suspects still at large in the killing of Kim Jong-Nam, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Related: Kim Jong-Nam’s Chinese bodyguards disappeared before his assassination, February 22, 2017
Malaysian authorities have refused to turn Jong-Nam’s body over to North Korea, as the embassy there has said it would conduct its own autopsy — “a move decried by North Korea as part of a broader conspiracy engineered by South Korea and the U.S.,” the report said.
Just hours before its broadside clearly aimed at China, North Korea government mouthpiece KCNA published a report blaming Malaysia for an “undisguised encroachment upon the sovereignty of the DPRK.”
“The biggest responsibility for his (Jong-Nam’s) death rests with the government of Malaysia as the citizen of the DPRK died in its land,” KCNA reported, quoting a group called the Korean Jurists Committee.
Meanwhile, another KCNA report criticized China for playing down North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, and for curbing foreign trade — “an apparent reference to China’s statement over the weekend that it would suspend coal imports from North Korea for the rest of the year,” the Journal report said.
Analysts say Beijing’s patience with the Kim Jong-Un regime was wearing thin even before the assassination of Kim Jong-Nam when Pyongyang conducted a series of nuclear and ballistic-missile tests last year, prompting China to back United Nations sanctions in November that targeted North Korea’s coal exports.
Kim Jong-Nam, like his uncle Jang Song-Thaek who had handled North Korea’s China relations before being executed by Kim Jong-Un, were considered pro-China and were both thought to be favored by the communist regime in Beijing, according to a report in the current Geostrategy-Direct.com
China, which was not directly named in the editorial, “has unhesitatingly taken inhumane steps such as totally blocking foreign trade related to the improvement of people’s living standard under the plea of the U.N. ‘resolutions on sanctions’ devoid of legal ground,” KCNA said.
“I would take this editorial as hard evidence that China has told North Korea it is narrowing the definition of coal exports for ‘humanitarian purposes,’ ” said Adam Cathcart, a scholar who focuses on China-North Korea relations at the UK’s University of Leeds, adding that it was exceedingly rare for North Korea to criticize China so directly.
Cathcart called the KCNA editorial “a frontal assault on China’s position on the U.N. sanctions issue,” a shift from the oblique critiques of China that North Korea usually turns to when it expresses its displeasure.
In the Feb. 23 piece, North Korea even adopted a mocking tone, saying that the country is “styling itself a big power, is dancing to the tune of the U.S.”
The KCNA statement also vowed that cutting its exports wouldn’t deter North Korea from developing its nuclear arsenal.
“It is utterly childish to think that the DPRK would not manufacture nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic rockets if a few penny of money is cut off,” the statement said.