A deputy editor at a newspaper affiliated with the Central Party School has been suspended from duty over an article he wrote for the Financial Times on February 27 calling for China to abandon North Korea, according to a person close to him and a media report.
Deng Yuwen, a deputy editor at the Study Times, told South Korea's Chosun Ilbo that he had been suspended indefinitely because of the controversial article but was still being paid by the newspaper.
"I was relieved of the position because of that article, and I'm suspended indefinitely," Chosun Ilbo quoted Deng as saying. "Although I'm still being paid by the [newspaper], I don't know when I will be given another position."
In an opinion page article in the Financial Times, Deng said North Korea's third nuclear test was a good moment for China to re-evaluate its long-standing alliance with the Kim dynasty and he gave several reasons why China should give up on Pyongyang and press for the reunification of the Korean peninsula.
"A state-to-state relation based on ideology is dangerous because China and North Korea, two socialist countries, differ much more than China disagrees with the West," Deng wrote.
"Another reason is that a national security strategy regarding North Korea as a geopolitical ally is out-dated because such an alliance would draw China into a war with the United States over North Korea's nuclear programme."
Reached by phone yesterday, Deng declined to confirm his suspension.
He said he would rather leave the matter behind.
He told a close friend that the suspension could last for a month, the friend said.
Deng told Chosun Ilbo the foreign ministry was "very upset" by the article and called the Central Party School to complain.
The party school was not available for comment yesterday and a staff member at the Study Times said the paper was not aware of the disciplinary measures against Deng.
She said that Deng was not in the office.
Deng's call for China to abandon North Korea underscores rising discontent in the Chinese intelligentsia over how little sway Beijing now holds over its increasingly provocative long-time ally.
Zhang Yunling , a Chinese Academy of Social Sciences specialist in Asia-Pacific affairs, said Beijing's policy on North Korea had hit a snag and China's endorsement of the latest United Nations resolutions against the North indicated a shift in China's long-term stance.
However, Zhang said that engaging North Korea was still in the best interests of all countries involved.
"What does a suggestion of abandonment mean exactly? Did he imply Beijing was ready for a war in the region by abandoning North Korea?" Zhang asked.