China suppresses “viral” images of anti-Kim Jong-un protest in Yangzhou

A favorite long-time reader and volunteer copy-editor forwards this fascinating story, via the UPI’s Elizabeth Shim.

An anti-Kim Jong Un rally was held in a Chinese city but photographs of the protest were promptly deleted by Chinese government censors, according to the Chinese-language press.

Protesters in the eastern Chinese city of Yangzhou gathered to express their opposition to North Korea’s nuclear tests and to condemn the North Korean leader.

The photos then went viral on Chinese social media, Hong Kong’s Apple Daily and New York-based Duowei News reported.

Yangzhou is the hometown of Jiang Zemin, who served as president from 1993 to 2003.

In images that were captured prior to their removal from the Internet, protesters were seen holding red banners that read, “Let’s overthrow the Kim dynasty, and hang Kim Jong Un by the neck in an execution.” [UPI]

What’s both frustrating and somewhat understandable is that the report tells us nothing about the sentiments behind the protest. Is His Corpulency perceived as endangering China’s security or the health of its people? As bringing the risk of war to China’s doorstep? As hurting China’s reputation? Or is it that Kim is simply perceived as an ungrateful vassal?

When images of the signs (see UPI’s report) “circulated rapidly across” Weibo and Weixin, Jing-Jing and Cha-Cha sprang into action to delete them.

But while the images were still available online, “Chinese mainland netizens showed strong interest in the anti-North Korea rallies that were taking place in Jiang Zemin’s hometown of Yangzhou,” according to Apple Daily.

U.S.-based Chinese-language newspaper Duowei News stated that the removal of the pictures indicates there is a “large gap in perspective on the demonstrations between the Chinese government and the people.”

There may be an angle for us to exploit here, if we knew more about the protestors’ sentiments. At some point, intense public antipathy might be enough to effect modest shifts in China’s policies, although I emphasize “modest.”

Chinese commenters have previously disparaged the North Korean ruler, calling him a derogatory word that translates into “the third fat member of the Kim family,” while condemning North Korea provocations.

That’s consistent with reports I’ve heard more than once from a well-respected Korea analyst, who would probably prefer not to be named. I’ve found nothing else online to confirm or further explain this report. Any Chinese-speakers who can help with that will earn my gratitude.