Pyongyang to Honored Chinese Guests: Thanks for Leaving!

It’s a fairly unusual day at the Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang when they have to emphasize that a large delegation of Chinese leaders are leaving the country.

Pyongyang, November 26 (KCNA) — Col. General Liang Guanglie, minister of National Defense who doubles as a state councilor of the People’s Republic of China, flew back home Thursday.
Leaving with him were Col. General Huang Xianzhong, political commissar of the Shenyang Military Area of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, Lieu. General Feng Zhaoju, deputy commander of the Jinan Military Area, Vice Admiral Xu Hongmeng, deputy commander of the Nanjing Military Area and commander of the East Sea Fleet of the Navy, Lieu. General Jiang Jianzeng, deputy commander of the Nanjing Military Area and commander of the Air Force of the area, Maj. General Chai Shaoliang, organizational director of the General Political Department of the CPLA, Maj. General Wang Jin, vice-director of the Operation Department of the General Staff, Maj. General Jia Xiaoning, deputy director of the Foreign Affairs Office of the Ministry of National Defense, and other suite members.

Do you suppose they’re worried about rumors that Chinese are taking over the place?

The fact that KCNA was so quick on the draw with this news — “they’re leaving! seriously!” — and that North Korean propaganda releases are usually about two days behind Xinhua and the press releases of the Chinese Embassy in Pyongyang (which as yet has said nothing about the departure of the Defense Minister from the capitol) indicates perhaps a bit of North Korean nervousness.

Or maybe I’ve just been reading a bit too much of The Book of Corrections and am wrong to imagine that the appearance of Chinese military command supremacy over Korean troops rubs North Korean observers the wrong way, kind of like a hand wrapped in duct tape moving up a cat’s spine.

Screams at South Korea about sadaejuui, or “flunkeyism,” can be quickly turned against the North Koreans and the traditional target of “submission to the great,” China. Anti-Chinese sentiment in North Korea is a very, very real phenomenon, ranging from fear of absorption by Chinese companies to contempt for Chinese disorder. Mix  all this in with nervousness over the degree of Chinese influence in the successor generation, and you’ve got some combustible themes in the North Korean body politic.

At least the relevant folks have had some relevant conversations about securing the border, although these meetings didn’t seem to get much press in North Korea:

9月22日,中国人民解放军副总参谋长马晓天上将(右)在北京会见由朝鲜人民武装力量部副部长朴在京大将率领的朝鲜军事代表团一行。 中新社发 富田 摄 -- via Huanqiu Shibao

2 thoughts on “Pyongyang to Honored Chinese Guests: Thanks for Leaving!

  1. Adam,

    Funny that I was reading the Book of Corrections this past summer. Not as informative as I expected.

    I didn’t get the part about “the appearance of Chinese military command supremacy over Korean troops rubs North Korean observers the wrong way”. Where does such an “appearance” come from? Just because the Dear Leader was flanked by a dozen PLA generals and commanders on an official visit? Or do you mean the North Koreans tend to think in general that the Chinese military is superior, which doesn’t sit well for them? I am thinking it is still possible that the KPA apparatus believe that the KPA is much superior to the PLA and the ROK army.

    • I am thinking it is still possible that the KPA apparatus believe that the KPA is much superior to the PLA and the ROK army.

      That’s a good point, although Madden and others believe that the PLA brass are among the staunchest supporters of the traditional “lips and teeth” alliance with DPRK, and these folks probably wouldn’t be pleased to hear of anti-Chinese grumbling among, say, officer corps. But not being a PLA expert, and (along with pretty much everyone else in the US) sadly having no contacts with the KPA, it’s hard for me to say.

      And the “appearance” I mentioned, yes, was based primarily on the bad optics (from an NK perspective) of the Dear Leader looking lost, dwarfed, and confused amid a bunch of PLA brass. Xinhua must have figured out that it could be fairly embarassing. No comments seemed allowed on the Huanqiu story that carried it, but if you were able to find any other BBS where the image comes up, I might be able to substantiate the perception at least from the Chinese side.

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