North Korea on Thursday published an extensive human rights report in Chinese state media, their latest effort at publicizing their side of the human rights story.
The report was carried in several online publications in China, and was released in a move to counteract the “wrong views and widespread misunderstanding” of its human rights situation. This perception, the North’s report stated, originates with the U.S. and its “followers,” and is aimed at interfering in the North’s domestic affairs and “overthrowing its social system.”
Earlier this year, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the DPRK released a long report condemning the North for its abuses, particularly its system of political prison camps. Since then, the North has responded with its own reports criticizing human rights in South Korea and the U.S., before releasing one of its own defending its own record.
The UN COI, upon the release of its report, recommended that the North Korean leadership be brought before the International Criminal Court for their abuses, but any such recommendation would likely be blocked by China, which has veto power as a permanent UN member. Beijing has demonstrated increasing frustration with the North recently, though, speaking out against a potential fourth nuclear test earlier this year and hosting South Korean President Park Geun-hye for a summit over the summer.
Current Chinese President Xi Jinping took office in late 2012 and Park in early 2013, and since then they have met twice. Xi has yet to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in power since late 2011.
However, experts were unsure if North Korea’s the decision to take the report to Chinese media was due to concern over China’s shifting in attitudes, or a normal course of events for the North, which frequently makes its publications available in other languages.
“The (state-run) Naenara website has Korean, English, French, Spanish, German, Russian, Chinese and Arabic,” said James Hoare, who previously served as British Chargé d’affaires in Pyongyang.
“I am pretty sure that (the Korean Central News Agency) put out bulletins in Chinese, Russian and Japanese, even though the current link … seems to be only in English and a very limited Spanish service,” said Hoare, who said that he “would not make too much of (the report).”
John Delury, professor of Chinese history at Yonsei University, was also unsure whether the report was specifically aimed at winning over the Chinese public. However, he said that the publication did appear to be part of a broader strategy to influence the human rights debate.
“North Korea has been trying out a new approach to international human rights criticism, which is to directly engage their critics and publicly defend their record,” he said. “Beijing, and the Chinese public, is obviously a key constituency for Pyongyang to reach out to for support. Making their human rights report available in Chinese is part and parcel of that broader effort.”
Picture: Jimmie, Flickr Creative Commons
Join the influential community of members who rely on NK News original news and in-depth reporting.
Subscribe to read the remaining 493 words of this article.