New directives were given to journalists in China regarding stories relating to the status of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his whereabouts. Beijing authorities are telling Chinese journalists to refrain from writing about Kim in a new set of instructions that were leaked and distributed online.
According to China Digital Times (omitting the name of the issuing body to protect its sources), Chinese media are not to contribute to the conjecture and rumors that are currently surrounding Kim Jong Un and the state of Pyongyang.
“Regarding news of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s absence from public appearance, media must not make unauthorized conjecture or commentary,” the statement reads. “Websites must take note, investigate and control netizen commentary.”
The order comes after state-run media published a series of articles that were critical of Pyongyang’s foreign policy positions. The Beijing News, for example, accused North Korea of having a “flip-flop attitude.”
China has a standing rule against “rumor mongering” by the media and on social media outlets. China’s State Internet Information Office launched a campaign last May, aiming to crackdown on people “spreading rumors.” In this case, rumors about North Korea have been closely linked to China.
Some analysts have suggested that North Korea’s deteriorating relationship with China has caused the pariah nation to suddenly turn to South Korea in hopes of finding alternative economic support. Earlier this week, China and North Korea unceremoniously marked 65 years of diplomatic relations. In the past, this milestone was celebrated and lauded in the media. This year, the event came and went without acknowledgement from state media on either side.