BEIJING, June 7 (Yonhap) -- China has completely blocked Internet searches for words and articles that could be used to insult North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, sources here said Thursday, reflecting warming bilateral relations between the two countries.
Besides the alleged online censorship, Beijing's authorities have also been prodding state-controlled Chinese media to run as many articles favorable to the North and Kim as possible, said the sources.
China's alleged moves to suppress negative public opinion towards Kim come as Beijing strives to restore relations with Pyongyang after the North Korean leader's two recent summit meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
This AP-Xinhua file photo shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Dalian, northeast China, on May 8, 2018. (Yonhap)
The sources said Chinese expression "Jin San Pang," which means "Kim Fatty the Third," a nickname used to poke fun at Kim's status, has completely disappeared from Baidu, China's largest portal site. Until early this year, searches for Jin San Pang had produced several dozen posts and articles.
"When bilateral conflict escalated over North Korea's missile and nuclear tests last year, China didn't impose a ban on searches for 'Jin San Pang.' But the phrase has disappeared online after Kim met with Xi in Beijing in March," said a source.
Searches for the insulting term have also been blocked on Chinese social media site Weibo.
In line with the changing atmosphere, the People's Daily has recently increased its coverage of North Korea's economic and industrial growth, as well as visits by the North's delegations to China, while other state media are calling for a security guarantee for the Pyongyang regime in return for its denuclearization efforts.