China media: North Korea ties

View of the North Korean town of Supung across the Yalu River from the Chinese town of Xiejiagou Image copyright AFP
Image caption The border is heavily protected at some parts but it remains a key crossing point for defectors

Papers and experts discuss Beijing-Pyongyang ties following reports that a North Korean soldier killed four people in a Chinese border town.

The soldier crossed the border in late December, stealing money and food before killing residents in Helong.

According to papers, he was later arrested north of the Tumen River that divides China and North Korea.

The Chinese foreign ministry gave no details about the incident, but said it has lodged a protest with North Korea.

Most papers in China have carried the news, quoting South Korea's Yonhap News Agency and state-run Xinhua, while appearing to refrain from making any comments about the incident.

Experts, however, dismiss speculation that the incident will hurt Beijing-Pyongyang ties.  

Zhao Lixin, a Korean studies expert, tells the Global Times such a case "should be viewed as a criminal incident rather than a political case".

"The Chinese government will protect its citizens' safety. This will not influence the relations between China and North Korea," says the pundit.

Echoing similar view, Wang Linchang, another expert on Korean affairs, tells the Chinese edition of the paper that China will "handle the matter seriously and will not let go of the murderer easily".

Meanwhile, noting that the news was first broken by news agencies in South Korea, the Global Times' Chinese edition takes a rare step and criticises Chinese officials and the media's silence over the issue.

"Don't let South Korea's media tell us that a North Korean soldier has entered China," says the editorial, pointing out that the incident was only revealed a week later and by a "third party".

"This makes one wonder the reason behind the delay in informing the public. Maybe it is because of the sensitivity of Beijing-Pyongyang relations. But this is an individual case…which has no connection to the bilateral ties," argues the paper.

The article further urges government agencies and "mainstream media" to increase their credibility by providing timely information.

"South Korea's media outlets have gained credibility by reporting this news, while China's mainstream media and officials are losing out," notes the daily.

Cross-strait ties

Elsewhere, papers warn of a "reverse" in cross-strait ties after former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian was granted a month of medical parole.

Mr Chen, president from 2000-2008, was six years into a 20-year sentence for money laundering and accepting bribes.

During his presidency, Mr Chen angered China by pushing for Taiwan's formal independence.

He has accused the current government of political persecution in order to appease Beijing, as it pursues closer ties with China.

A Xinhua report calls him "the disgrace of Taiwan" and highlights the corruption cases that he was allegedly involved in during his term.

Another Xinhua commentary hints that Taiwan officials "might have bowed to pressure" from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

"Will Mr Chen's release help in solving the conflicts of the whole society? He deliberately wore green outfit and put on a cap with wordings saying that he has been prosecuted. From this silent protest, it is apparent that the answer is no," says the news agency.

Pointing out that Taiwan's rule of law has "bowed to politics", the Global Times suggests Beijing to "strive for the best but prepare for the worst".

"Ma Ying-jeou remains the leader of Taiwan, but he has lost real authority and the DPP acts as if it is already on the path to regaining power. The independence camp seems to be anxious to begin a new chapter in Taiwan's political landscape," notes the paper.

Ridiculous Christmas remark

And finally, a college, which banned students from celebrating Christmas, has come under fire again for its "ridiculous" remarks on the Shanghai stampede.

Last December, the Modern College of Northwest University in Shaanxi Province, northwest China, raised eyebrows for banning its students from celebrating Christmas and making them watch traditional cultural films on the eve.

The college has continued to bash the "waves of Westernisation" and the infatuation of the young people with Western holidays after the Shanghai crush, which killed 36 people, took place on New Year's eve.

"The Shanghai stampede tragedy proves that our holiday management is utterly correct", the college proclaimed in an article on its website.

The editorial, which has since been removed, has sparked outcry and drawn heavy criticism from the media.

"What will the school say if the stampede takes place on the Chinese New Year?" asks a web user.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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