Hours before the Belt and Road Forum kicked off in Beijing on May 14, North Korea launched a missile into the Sea of Japan, the South China Morning Post reports. The Associated Press explains that this missile is likely “the most powerful the country has ever tested.” North Korean state media have uploaded a video of the launch to YouTube. The text description says that Kim Jong-un declared that the DPRK, or Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the country’s preferred name for itself, “is a nuclear power worthy of the name whether someone recognizes it or not,” and that “DPRK will keep strict control over those engaging themselves in nuclear blackmail with its nuclear deterrence.”
North Korea was at the time a guest at China’s Belt and Road Forum, an invitation that Beijing had bestowed on the country a week prior, despite the objections of others. The participation of North Korea in the Belt and Road Forum had raised concerns among Western countries. Two sources told Reuters, “The U.S. embassy in Beijing had submitted a diplomatic note to China’s foreign ministry, saying that inviting North Korea sent the wrong message at a time when the world was trying to pressure Pyongyang over its repeated missile and nuclear tests.” On the sidelines of the forum, Reuters also obtained a comment from the EU ambassador to China, who said, “I personally just wonder a bit whether in light of the whole background, it sends the right signal to invite them to a meeting that is dedicated to peace and prosperity.”
Kim Yong-jae, North Korea’s minister of external economic relations, who attended the forum, was confronted about the latest test by the South Korean delegation at the event, though the head of the delegation did not disclose what, if any, response Kim gave. Some observers suspect that the launch may have broken expectations of renewed dialogue between the two Koreas, while the South China Morning Post quotes several Chinese analysts who suspect their government will now be more willing to advance further sanctions on the rogue nation.
Liberal economics think tank Unirule locked out of its office for ‘security reasons’ ahead of forum / SCMP
Economist Mao Yushi 茅于轼, founder of the private think tank Unirule, was prevented from leaving his home for the duration of the One Belt, One Road forum, while the offices of his think tank were locked by the authorities. In January, some of Unirule’s social media accounts were shut down in January.
Chasing after the Kushners in China / NYT (paywall)
A New York Times journalist describes what it took to report on the Kushner visa-for-investment controversy a week ago: “As journalists in China, we are accustomed to dealing with harassment. But we don’t typically encounter bullying at events where American companies hold court.”
‘Tomb raider’ arrested after 23 years on the run / China Daily
A man wanted for theft of a corpse and artifacts from an ancient tomb in Hubei Province in 1994 was taken into custody this month.
- In Chinese politics, it pays to be a boring speaker / Quartz
- Shanghai’s underground child care market / Sixth Tone