No, Chinese netizens just have an unfortunate inferiority complex so they feel the need to put down other countries to make themselves feel better about their country. What does US Puppet state even mean anyways?
Usually when Chinese netizens say this, it means that the US military has some control over that country therefore it’s a ‘puppet’ state. Well how many countries does the US military have a presence in?
Over 70+ countries. So I guess that’s a lot of US ‘puppet’ states eh?
In day to day life, this doesn’t really matter or have an effect on the lives of normal people. Yes, Korea shares joint command of their military with the USA and Japan’s constitution was written by the USA, but that doesn’t mean either country just bows down (as Chinese people like to say ‘like a dog’) to the US’s demands.
In fact, Korea can and has turned down demands from the US before: South Korea refuses to pay US$5 billion to cover cost of US troops
In every other way, Korea/Japan elects their own president, runs their own politics, and the USA has no influence in that.
I think China often uses this putdown to Korea/Japan because they are jealous that Korea/Japan developed much earlier than they did and still have higher GDP/capita so per person, Koreans/Japanese are still generally more well off than Chinese are. Plus, their soft power is far more recognized globally than Chinese soft power (Chinese wuxi isn’t exactly in high demand like kpop concerts or Japanese anime are).
So what can a Chinese do to make themselves feel better? Well, accuse those countries of not being independent, that’s what. And especially since USA is China’s enemy right?
Well, actually USA is China’s biggest trading partner – so much for being independent from the USA. It’s kind of a moot point to accuse other countries of being too dependent on America when your own country imports $150B worth of goods from America every year.