According to latest news from different sources, there should be a cooling-off in Chinese-North Korean relations.
Today's article from SINA news center 新浪新闻中心 is referring to a publication made by South and North Korean peace activists, saying that a large community of overseas Chinese residents living in Pyongyang and other urban areas in North Korea have been arrested for spying.
That North Korea grabbed and terrorized a hundred overseas Chinese
might be a rumour. North Korea says: "That's impossible to happen."
The SINA article is quoting some North Korean news official and who rejected any rumours that such kind of incident ever happened in the frame of an interview he granted to the Chinese daily Global News 环球时报.
As to different opinions, here an excerpt from what the South Korean based activist group originally published on that item:
On the 14th of December, our Daily NK reporter spoke with a source in South Pyongan Province, who informed us that the State Security Department has been investigating Hwagyo [ Editor: Korean name for overseas Chinese (华侨) ] across North Korea, making arrests as part of an ‘emergency investigation’. Approximately 100 arrests have been made as part of this operation, and the detainees are currently being interrogated by the State Security Department.
The targets of the operation are all well-off members of the Hwagyo who have sent their children to universities in China. All of the overseas Chinese residents currently living in North Korea are citizens of the PRC and of Han ethnicity. As long as they register with their local State Security Department, they are able to travel to China whenever they wish. Until now, Chinese residents of North Korea have managed to amass small fortunes by stocking up on Chinese goods in China and then returning over the border to North Korea to sell them in the markets at a tidy profit.
They communicate freely with their children through the mail and by telephone, which has made them the target of investigation. The North Korean authorities have been keeping a close eye on these communications through wiretapping and intercepting mail, leading to accusations of spying or acting as an accomplice to a spy and subsequent arrests.
Although details of the exact charges leveled in the arrests have still not been revealed, many of those arrested were carrying out ‘special missions’ for the State Security Department, a status that allowed them to travel back and forth from China easily. Our source surmised that the probability that they were arrested on charges of either being double agents or spying for the Chinese Ministry of State Security is high.
"Rumors abound that the arrests are an attempt by the local authorities to strike back at China as the latter appears to be politically drifting away from North Korea and closer to South Korea. This would explain the need to keep an eye on the Chinese ambassador in Pyongyang," the source pointed out.
“Some Party cadres have even speculated that this move will spell the beginning of the end for Sino-North Korean relations."
He added, “The recent revelation that the North Korean authorities have been spying on and following the Chinese ambassador to Pyongyang was regarded with great displeasure by the Chinese government.” Moreover, following the arrests of the overseas Chinese residents, the state has, for the time being, stopped issuing travel permits to China for any of the Hwagyo residing within the North’s borders and there are problems procuring market goods from China as well.
Another sign for a cooling-off in Sino-North Korean relations seems to be the unexpected calling home of a North Korean dancing group of army girls after China's president Xi JinPing allegedly refused to attend the now cancelled performance. [The Telegraph, U.K. on December 14, 2015]
On December 16, the Second World Internet Conference started in Wuzhen,
Zhejiang province. Chairman Xi JinPing attended the opening ceremony and
delivered the keynote speech. [People's Network]
Russian visitors from the Moscow area who came today and yesterday
(i.e. December 15/16) and who are interested in North Korean subjects.