China's BRICS Summit Closes Under Shadow of North Korean Nuke Test

putin-xi-09052017.jpg Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shake hands on the sidelines of the 2017 BRICS Summit in Xiamen, southeastern China's Fujian Province, Sept. 5, 2017.

As North Korea warned of further "gift packages" for the United States following its sixth and most powerful nuclear test at the weekend, China's were busy on Tuesday erasing official articles and social media comments linked to the standoff over Pyongyang's nuclea program.

At the close of the BRICS summit in the southeastern Chinese port of Xiamen on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Pyongyang would rather "eat grass" than abandon its nuclear program, and warned of a "planetary catastrophe."

His comments came after Han Tae Song, North Korean ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, said Pyongyang was proud to have detonated a hydrogen bomb in the test, that was ready to be fitted to a missile.

"The recent self-defence measures by my country, DPRK, are a 'gift package' addressed to none other than the U.S.," Han said.

"The U.S. will receive more 'gift packages' from my country as long as its relies on reckless provocations and futile attempts to put pressure on the DPRK," he added without elaborating

The U.S. on Monday demanded the "strongest possible measures" against North Korea for detonating what Pyongyang said was a hydrogen bomb that could be mounted on a missile.

But while China foreign ministry  condemned the North Korean nuclear test, its statement was later apparently removed across the Chinese internet, while a commentary relating to the test by The Global Times newspaper, which has close links to the ruling Chinese Communist Party, was also removed.

Chinese social media commentator Hua Pu said that the authorities appear to have greatly expanded the list of "sensitive words" that lead to automatic deletion of content within the Great Firewall.

Keyword-searches on the Chinese internet for "hydrogen bomb" on Tuesday resulted in a notification saying search results couldn't be displayed owing to "relevant laws and regulations."

Instead, Hua Pu said state media has been focusing entirely on the BRICS summit, and appears to be ignoring the North Korean nuclear crisis entirely.

"This is very delicate," Hua Pu said. "They may be afraid of the impact it will have on the BRICS summit, but they are pretty angry with North Korea in private, because of the impact of North Korean nuclear testing on China."

China 'main external victim'

China's powerful internet censors have already called for all comment on the nuclear test to be shut down, and for websites to "avoid deliberately hyping the issue."

Former state media journalist Zhu Xinxin hit out at Beijing for failing to confront North Korea openly on the nuclear issue, however.

"This evil is now a serious threat to world peace," Zhu said. "The international community should reject the Chinese Communist Party's policy of appeasement."

The Global Times website ran an editorial on Tuesday warning against confrontation among the "interested parties" regarding the North Korean nuclear issue, echoing Putin's comments.

"Any stakeholder who excessively pursues its own security will add a sense of threat to the other parties," the paper said. "Such a vicious circle may eventually come to a tipping point."

It said China is the "main external victim" of the crisis, and shouldn't be expected to shoulder the burden of responsibility for it.

But it added: "As Washington cannot intimidate Pyongyang, it is even more naive for Pyongyang to attempt to intimidate Washington through owning nuclear weapons."

Meanwhile, on the sidelines of the BRICS summit, authorities in Xiamen detained prominent rights lawyer Chen Jiangang as he tried to pass through the city on his way to represent a client.

"They have finished investigating me now," Chen told RFA en route back to Beijing after being questioned by local police. "Let's see what happens, one step at a time."

"I don't really want to say much more about it. The summit really didn't occur to me; I was just on my way through, and didn't think the authorities would react in that way."

Reported by Xin Lin for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Wen Yuqing for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


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