On December 6, 2017, Jilin Daily published a full-page feature on nuclear weapons and how to protect oneself in case of a nuclear radiation. This led many, in particular, residents from northern China to ask if the newspaper report is an anticipation of a United States military action against North Korea's missile test.
Jilin province is located in north China near North Korea. Jilin Daily is affiliated with the local government of the province.
On November 29, North Korea launched a test on an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching all part of U.S. mainland. Earlier, U.S. President Donald Trump warned to bring a “rain” of “fire and fury” on North Korea if the country’s leader Kim Jong Un continued to threaten U.S. security. China, in particular the northern part of China, would be affected by the “rain”.
Meanwhile, another leaked document from Jilin’s China mobile company indicated that the Jilin government has established five refugee sites in Changbai province, which shares 260 kilometers of border with North Korea.
Public discussion regarding potential warfare in North Korea was deleted quickly from social media platforms. Even party-affiliated Global Times had to withdraw its editorial upon publishing online (retrieved via Voices of America):
Currently, tension is mounting in the Korean Peninsula. North Korea has launched six nuclear tests and it is believed that the country is already equipped with a nuclear bomb. Moreover, its missile launching technology has reached a breakthrough this year and has successfully launched a missile that can reach all parts of the U.S. continent. The U.S has vowed that it would destroy North Korea economy and exercise military pressure. The risk of military conflict between the U.S and North Korea has escalated. Jilin shares border with North Korea, the whole page feature on nuclear radiation precaution is believed to be a reaction to the risk of warfare in the Korean peninsula.
Despite censorship, anxious posts about military conflicts keep popping up on popular Chinese social media platform Weibo. One Weibo user believes that the news feature published by Jilin Daily was approved by the central government:
This is not a joke. You all know that news censorship in China is very strict. Such kind of content has to be approved by senior officials before circulation. The leaders want to tell you something but can’t say that explicitly. Fellows in Dongbei (northern China), please observe the U.S consulate in Shenyang, if they retreat, run away.
Even though state-affiliated news outlets had tried to downplay the possibility of a war, many are still worried about radiation if military action was taken by the U.S. against North Korea's nuclear facilities:
Even if the nuclear missile exploded in the sky, Dongbei area will still be endangered, right?
More critical comments blamed the government for the nuclear crisis:
To prevent a North Korea nuclear missile attack, South Korea and Japan are equipped with Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), MIM-104 Patriot and Aircraft Carriers; Taiwan has Phased Array Warning System, Russia has Voronezh-M radar system as precaution. China is the only country which cannot clearly detect and counter North Korea missiles. Now with the threat of H-bomb, people in Jilin can only rely on newspapers which educate people with radiation common sense. Where have all the patriotic youths who protested against the THAAD by crushing Korean vehicles gone? Shouldn’t you be standing in the front line?
Since government with Chinese character [China government] has been supporting North Korea in secret, the country eventually got its nuclear weapon. Now it is threatening the security of all people in the world. Hence, the government with Chinese character should be responsible for all adverse effects of the North Korea nuclear crisis.