Anxiety levels rise in China in the wake of North Korea's nuclear tests. Media and the authorities downplay concerns.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Jilin Daily, the official state-run newspaper in China’s Jilin province, on the border with North Korea, yesterday published a survival guide in the case of a nuclear attack, raising the anxiety level among local residents.
The full-page set of instructions (pictured) includes information on nuclear weapons, protective measures, and the differences between various kinds of disaster.
However, rather than reassure the population, the guide has sparked fears and raised concerns about the risks involved, especially in light of the tensions caused by North Korean missile tests.
According to The Diplomat, North Korea’s nuclear test in September caused strong physical and mental tremors, akin to what a 6.3 earthquake might provoke, as it was strongly felt in northern China, including Jilin province.
According to the newspaper, the survival guide information was provided by the People’s Air Defence Office in Jilin Province in order to “strengthen normal national defence education.”
The Air Defence Office also explained that the content dealing with nuclear arms is only “common sense” and “should not be over-interpreted.”
At the regular press briefing yesterday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang did not directly answer a question about Jilin Daily’s article; instead, he encouraged the journalist to follow other local media so as to “help flesh out your perception of China.”
This is not the first time that Chinese media have heightened anxieties. On 30 November, the China Daily published an editorial titled ‘Grave concerns that DPRK* crisis is getting out of hand’.
Similarly, the Global Times yesterday published an editorial defending the Jilin Daily, arguing that the article “doesn’t necessarily mean the province faces the risk of nuclear attack.”
Yet the editorial added that “it is South Korea, Japan, and the U.S. bases in the Asia-Pacific that will likely be priority targets for North Korea. There is a slim chance that the U.S. or North Korea will intentionally launch military attacks at China”.
The editorial ended saying that “as a powerful nuclear state, China will resolutely return like for like.” However, for The Diplomat, such rhetoric is actually not very reassuring.
* DPRK: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, i.e. North Korea