Web users fume over Chinese fishermen held hostage by North Koreans, another turn in a complex relationship going back to the Korean War.
The Chinese public tends to get angry when they perceive foreign territorial or military aggression against their country, and they've had a few opportunities recently: there was wariness over the U.S. decision to establish a permanent military presence in Australia, fury following the Japanese government's detention of a Chinese boat captain, and the indignation expressed during the ongoing standoff between China and the Philippines over disputed territory in the South China Sea. But there was something different about popular reaction to the recent kidnapping of Chinese fishermen by North Koreans. The response, though, seems to be less about threatened national pride or deep-rooted historical hostility. Instead, it seems to be part of a trend of growing Chinese frustration with this national ally and China's sense of patronizing superiority over its impoverished and closed neighbor as the two once-similar societies proceed on diverging paths and become more distant.
Many in China can remember the common ground that the two countries once shared. Chinese elementary school textbooks still teach the "Help Korea, Oppose America" conflict, as the Korean War is sometimes described, though the Chinese telling often chides North Korea like a mother scolding an unfilial son. That sentiment of disapproval persists today, and can be seen in Chinese web users' reactions to this week's kidnapped-fishermen incident.