Archive for February, 2016

Friday, February 26, 2016

Korean Peninsula: Deploy THAAD if you have to, but provide China with an Explanation

The prospect of a North Korean nuclear arsenal can’t be promising in Beijing’s view – but appears to be preferrable to a scenario where the regime in Pyongyang would collapse and give way to South Korea’s political system, with US military close on its heels.

Given that, it is no great surprise that China doesn’t agree to sanctions that could endanger the very survival of the North Korean regime. And given that, the sanctions Beijing agreed to anyway, in negotiations with Washington’s mission to the UN that were concluded on Thursday, look as if they were unusually biting after all, even if stopping short of causing Pyongyang fatal or near-fatal calamities. After all, the sanctions’ effect depends not only on what the Security Council agrees to, but also on how far North Korea’s trading partners, including China, are prepared to go in implementing them.

What made Beijing agree to the resolution draft that should be voted on shortly? Not least fear of a regional arms race.

A Foreign Ministry official confirmed that China’s Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin requested a meeting with South Korea’s Ambassador to Beijing Kim Jang-soo,

KBS World Radio, South Korea’s foreign broadcasting service, reported on Febuary 9.

The official told Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency that China conveyed its stance on the launch of the THAAD negotiations during that meeting. Asked about what stance China had expressed, the official said it is not appropriate to reveal content from consultations held via diplomatic channels,

the KBS report continued.

The confirmation came as China’s Foreign Ministry announced on Monday that Liu urgently summoned the South Korean ambassador and protested the launch of South Korea-U.S. negotiations on deploying the U.S. THAAD system on the Korean Peninsula.

In her speech to parliament, South Korean president Park Geun-hye also conjured THAAD:

The Government is making sure our military readiness posture is solid and is also making thorough preparations for nonmilitary provocations including cyber- attacks and acts of terrorism in public places.

To maintain robust deterrence against the North, the Government is enhancing the Korea-U.S. combined defense capability and engaging in consultations with the United States to improve our alliance’s missile defense posture. The start of formal consultations to deploy the THAAD system to US Forces Korea, as announced on February 7, is also part of these efforts.

Eleven days earlier, Park had been on the phone, talking to Chinese party and state leader Xi Jinping. The conversation didn’t appear to bear fruit, and certainly not the way Park had hoped for. China was “still unprepared” to “think about this in larger strategic terms”, Yonhap newsagency quoted Jonathan Pollack of the Brookings Institution. Pollack was also quoted as pointing out

how much effort Park has put in to strengthen relations with China and build personal ties with Xi, including her attendance at a massive Chinese military parade in September that was shunned by Western leaders.

“President Park’s expectation, I think legitimate expectation, was that she wanted a different answer from China. She’s made a lot of commitment to China,” the expert said, noting that Park risked domestic and international criticism to attend the September parade.

“She expected something in return, and so far, she has not received that,” he said.

Broadly speaking, Seoul’s plans for tough sanctions against Pyongyang had been frustrated. But there was a pressure point on Beijing. While Seoul had reportedly long been reluctant – or ambiguous – about the idea of deploying THAAD as part of American military defense, the South Korean leadership quickly warmed up to it during the past six or seven weeks.

And Beijing – not terribly successfully, it seems – tried to find an effective line in its communications with South Korea. In a meeting with Kim Jong-in, leader of South Korea’s largest opposition party, Chinese ambassador Qiu Guohong (邱国洪) – quoted by Chosun Ilbo as in turn quoted by Huanqiu Shibao

[…] emphasized that Sino-South Korean relations could thus be negatively affected, as mentioned at the beginning of this [Huanqiu, that is] article. The [Chosun Ilbo] report says that Qiu Guohong had expressed the Chinese position in three points. Firstly, the South Korean government says it would limit the radar reach and lower the performance of ‘THAAD’, but the Chinese government cannot possibly believe that. As a friend, China can believe South Korea’s promises, but the problem is that America has all powers in the deployment, the upgrades, and adjustments made to ‘THAAD’. In the end, China and Russia would become target objects, too.” Secondly, this [THAAD] issue would destroy the regional strategic balance, cause an arms race, and fire up nervousness and disquiet.” Ambassador Qiu reminded the South Korean side of the question of how South Korea’s seucrity should, under such circumstances, be guaranteed? His last point was that “the South-Korean-American consultations concerning ‘THAAD’ had, to some extent, dispersed the international community’s unanimous reaction concerning sanctions against North Korea. Without this issue, maybe there would be a new, passed, UN resolution already.”

[…..] 强调,中韩关系可能因此受到负面影响,这就出现了本文开头的一席话。报道称,邱国洪就中方立场大致说明了3点:首先,“韩国政府虽然声称会缩短预警雷达的探测距离,降低‘萨德’性能,但中国政府无法相信。作为好朋友,中国可以相信韩国的承诺,但问题是美国拥有部署、升级、调整‘萨德’的所有权利,最终中国和俄罗斯也会成为瞄准对象”;其次,该问题会“打破地区的战略均衡,引发地区军备竞赛,助长紧张和不安”。邱大使提醒韩方,如果出现这样的局面,韩国的安全是否能得到保障?最后一点是,“韩美协商‘萨德’问题相当于分散了国际社会对朝鲜制裁的一致应对。如果没有该问题,新的联合国决议案可能已经获得通过”。

The South Korean government wasn’t amused and summoned Qiu to the foreign ministry on Wednesday to discuss his comments during his talks with the country’s opposition leader. This was no dramatic response to a questionable Chinese move, but an unusually strong reaction by South Korean standards, in its relations with Beijing. And there is no indication that Seoul will drop the idea of THAAD deployment again, after what appears to have been a successful game of hardball with Beijing, forced upon the clestial kingdom by three unruly barbarians: America, South Korea, and – not least – the North Korean “ally”.

On Thursday, the day when Beijing’s and Washington’s missions to the UN agreed to the resolution draft on sanctions against North Korea, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi apparently struck a more conciliatory tone, saying that the decision was ultimately up to South Korea, and China understood the desire of the United States and South Korea to ensure the defense of their own countries. However, China’s legitimate security concerns also needed to be taken into account, Reuters quoted Wang as saying – an explanation must be provided to China.

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Friday, February 19, 2016

“Social Credit System”

If you want to read only one thing about China this weekend, this is what you should read: a translation – by China Copyright and Media – of a State Council Notice concerning Issuance of the Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System. If you haven’t read it before, that is.

It’s kind of old news (from 2014), but I haven’t noticed this document before. It covers all areas of public and private life: finance, products and services, “soft power”, government and administration, work and product safety, pricing and monetary policies, medical services, industrial relations, education and science, environmental protection, “disclosure of false information” etc., and, of course, the internet:

Credit construction in the area of Internet applications and services. Forcefully move forward the construction of online sincerity, foster ideas of running the Internet according to the law and using the Internet in a sincere manner, progressively implement the online real-name system, perfect legal guarantees for the construction of online credit, forcefully move forward the construction of online credit supervision and management mechanisms. Establish online credit evaluation systems, evaluate the credit of the operational behaviour of Internet enterprises and the online behaviour of netizens, and record their credit rank. Establish network credit files covering Internet enterprises and individual netizens, vigorously move forward with the establishment of exchange and sharing mechanisms for online credit information and corresponding credit information in other areas, forcefully promote the broad application of online credit information in various areas of society. Establish online credit black list systems, list enterprises and individuals engaging in online swindles, rumourmongering, infringement of other persons’ lawful rights and interests and other grave acts of breaking trust online onto black lists, adopt measures against subjects listed on black lists including limitation of online conduct and barring sectoral access, and report them to corresponding departments for publication and exposure.

互联网应用及服务领域信用建设。大力推进网络诚信建设,培育依法办网、诚信用网理念,逐步落实网络实名制,完善网络信用建设的法律保障,大力推进网络信用 监管机制建设。建立网络信用评价体系,对互联网企业的服务经营行为、上网人员的网上行为进行信用评估,记录信用等级。建立涵盖互联网企业、上网个人的网络 信用档案,积极推进建立网络信用信息与社会其他领域相关信用信息的交换共享机制,大力推动网络信用信息在社会各领域推广应用。建立网络信用黑名单制度,将 实施网络欺诈、造谣传谣、侵害他人合法权益等严重网络失信行为的企业、个人列入黑名单,对列入黑名单的主体采取网上行为限制、行业禁入等措施,通报相关部 门并进行公开曝光。

Thanks to Smukster for his advice.

 

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Updates/Related

Spektrum der Wissenschaft, “Digitales Manifest”, Dec 21, 2015

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Controversy that could tear Syria apart

Is this really a good time for Bashar to go on a ski holiday?

Is this really a good time for Bashar to go on a ski holiday?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Pope and China: “Inexhaustible Wisdom”

In Order of Publication (from January 2015 to February 2016)

Ma Ying-jeou, speaking at a Dinner banquet in Italy, March 18, 2013

Pope Francis is the first pontiff from Latin America, as well as the first from the Society of Jesus. He is humble and amicable, shows special concern for the poor, and leads a frugal life, traveling by public transport to and from work. He also attaches great importance to international poverty reduction. Meanwhile, the Republic of China has provided humanitarian relief, through the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, to those affected by the Italian earthquake. We have aided refugees in the border areas of Syria and South Sudan. Assistance has also been extended to Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Chad for national greening projects aimed at combating desertification, as well as to Colombia for a community reconstruction plan. These all clearly reflect the role that the ROC plays as a provider of humanitarian aid.

Huanqiu Shibao online, January 20, 2015

Huanqiu online report, Ge Peng reporting — According to an Agence-France Presse report on January 20, Pope Francis, on his return flight from the Philippines, told reporters that the reason for not having met the Dalai Lama in December hadn’t been because he “feared China”, but just because no arrangements for a meeting had been made.

【环球网报道 记者 葛鹏】据法新社1月20日报道,教皇方济各20日从菲律宾飞回梵蒂冈后对记者表示,他在去年12月时未会见达赖喇嘛并不是因为“害怕中国”,只是并未安排会见。

The Dalai Lama had been in Rome last month [i. e. in December] to attend a Nobel Peace Prize winners’ summit. Francis said: “Some papers wrote that the reason I hadn’t met him was out of fear of China. This proposition is wrong. He has previously suggested a meeting, but the time hasn’t come yet, and we are still in touch.”

达赖喇嘛上个月曾到罗马参加诺贝尔和平奖获奖者峰会。方济各说:“有的报纸说我没和他见面是因为害怕中国,这种说法是错误的,他此前曾提出和我会谈,但还没到时候,我们还在接触。”

When asked about Sino-Vatican relations, he said: “Chinese people are polite, we are also very courteous, and we are slowly approaching each other.

当被问及中国和梵蒂冈的关系时,他说:“中国人很有礼貌,我们也很客气,我们在慢慢接近。”

On his flight back from Manila and across China, just as he did with other countries [whose airspace] he passed, he sent a telegram to Chinese state chairman Xi Jinping, expressing his good wishes to the Chinese people.

在方济各从马尼拉飞回经过中国时,他同飞经其他国家一样,向国家主席习近平发了一封电报,向中国人民表示祝福。

Dalai Lama candels October U.S. Visit, September 25, 2015

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is in the United States for a medical check-up. The doctors have advised His Holiness to rest for the next several weeks. As a result, His Holiness’ planned October U.S. visit has been cancelled. We deeply regret the inconvenience caused by this decision and apologize to all the people who have worked so hard in organizing the visit as well as to the public. We thank you for your support and understanding.

The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama

[Note: there apparently were no meeting plans – the Dalai Lama would have visited Philadelphia after Pope Francis]

Ma Ying-jeou responds to Pope’s 2016 World Peace Day Message, January 27, 2016

The president said as peace also requires consensus and collaboration, he proposed the East China Sea and South China Sea Peace Initiatives to address tensions in the Asia-Pacific region.

Based on clearly defined concepts, those initiatives “call on all parties concerned to exercise restraint, shelve disputes and use peaceful means such as consultation and dialogue to resolve conflict,” he added. The president said over the last seven years, he has done his utmost to encourage peaceful interaction between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait and overcome numerous obstacles.

In particular, his November 2015 meeting with mainland Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Singapore serves as a positive example of settling disputes through peaceful means for other regions facing similar difficulties.

Taiwan Today / RoC Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Guanchazhe online, February 3, 2016

This translation doesn’t necessarily mirror the pope’s actual wording. The Asia Times interview can be found there. The Asia Times reporter Guanchazhe referred to is Francesco Sisci.

According to foreign media reports, Roman Catholic Pope Francis, on the eve of China’s traditional New Year – Spring Festival – expressed long-standing admiration for China’s “great culture” and “inexhaustible wisdom”, and his “best greetings and wishes to Chairman Xi Jinping and all Chinese people”. This was another step that raised speculation about the Vatican and China rapidly improving relations.

据外媒报道,在中国传统新年——春节来临之际,罗马天主教皇方济各(Pope Francis)在接受媒体采访时,向中国的“伟大文化”和“无穷尽的智慧”表达了长久以来的“钦佩之情”,表达了“对习近平主席和所有中国人民最美好的问候与祝福”。此举进一步增加了梵蒂冈和中国可能会迅速改善关系的猜测。

The Hong Kong [paper] “Asia Time”, on February 2, published online the content of an interview conducted with Pope Francis on January 28.

教皇方济各在1月28日接受了香港《亚洲时报》(Asia Time)的采访,这家媒体星期二(2月2日)通过互联网公布了采访的内容。

Francis said in the interview that to him, China had always been place to think of when greatness was mentioned, that [he saw] China as a great country.

方济各在采访中说,中国对于他来说一直是一个说到伟大就会想到的地方,是一个伟大的国家。

Vatican Holy See spokesman Lombardi said that the Pope’s interview was significant. However, the situation of Catholicism in China and the issue of bishops in China appointed by the Holy See weren’t mentioned in the interview.

梵蒂冈教廷新闻官龙巴蒂(P. Federico Lombardi)表示,这次教皇的采访意味深长。不过,有关中国天主教状况及教廷任命中国主教的话题没有在这次采访中提及。

That the Pope shows friendliness to Beijing isn’t news: [events] from his greetings from a flight through Chinese airspace in August 2014 when he sent a greetings telegram to Xi Jinping, to a Vatican delegation’s visit to Beijing in October 2015 showed the Vatican’s gradual rapprochement to Beijing.

教皇方济各向北京示好并非新闻:从2014年8月飞越中国领空、向习近平发问候电报,到梵蒂冈代表团2015年10月访问北京,这一切都显示着梵蒂冈与北京的渐行渐近。

[…]

In his speeches, Francis repeatedly called for world peace, tolerance and respect in his speeches. This includes tolerance and harmony between different ideological camps like East and West. During his visit to South America in September 2015, he met with Cuban leader Raoul Castro and revolutionary leader Fidel Castro. Also, according to American sources, the Vatican played a key role in the diplomatic “thaw” between Washington and Havana.

方济各还在讲话中反复呼吁世界的和平、宽容与尊重。这其中也包括东、西方不同意识形态阵营的宽容与融合。在他2015年9月访问南美期间,他与古巴领导人劳尔·卡斯特罗以及革命领袖菲德尔·卡斯特罗会面。另外据美国方面称,方济各和梵蒂冈在华盛顿与哈瓦那的外交“融冰”中发挥了关键作用。

The “Asia Time” reporter addressed the Chinese family planning issue, as the Pope resolutely opposes abortion. Francis first discussed issues of aging [populations] in different regions, and of [people not wanting] children, and then talked about China. “Not having many children is of course very painful, because this way of an upside-down pyramid, the parental and great-parental generations all lean on one child. This is fatiguing, harsh, and confusing, it’s not natural.” But the Pope also said that nowadays, there was some change in China in this regard.

亚洲时报》记者在采访中提及中国的计划生育问题,因为天主教的教义坚决反对堕胎。方济各先是谈到世界各地的人口老龄化和不愿意要小孩儿问题,然后才讲到中国。“不能多要小孩这个问题,当然非常令人痛苦,因为这样金字塔倒了过来,父辈、祖父辈的负担都在一个孩子身上。这是累人的、苛刻的、令人迷惘的,不是自然的。”但是教皇也表示,中国在这方面如今有所改变。

Francis said, “so long as there is improvement and onward movement, I’m not worried, because this testifies that they are making [or creating] history. I believe that China moving forward is their great position. … to be in charge of choosing ones own road is healthy and useful. We have taken this road, it hasn’t led through perfectly, so others may be opened.”

方济各说,“只要是在进步、在向前走,我就不担心,因为这证明了他们正在创造历史。我认为,中国人在向前走,这也是他们伟大的地方。……对自己选择的路负责是健康、有益的。我们走了这条路,没有完全走通,所以现在其他可能被开辟出来”。

At the end of the interview, the Pope “send his best greetings and wishes to Xi Jinping and all Chinese people.” He said that “I hope they will never lose their historical awareness that they are a great nation, that they will not forget their nation’s history of sublime wisdom, that they will make their own considerable contributions to the world. The world relies on your extraodinary wisdom. On the eve of this new year, I hope you will keep this awareness, that you will continue to move forward, and together with everyone make a common cause of taking care of our common home and common people.

在采访的结尾,教皇向“习近平主席和所有中国人民致以最美好的问候与祝福”。他表示,“我祝愿他们永不丢失自己是个伟大民族的历史意识,不忘记自己民族智慧的崇高历史,体认到自己必能对世界贡献良多。世界仰赖你们超凡绝伦的智慧。在这新年之际,愿你们怀着这份意识,持续向前迈进,与众人同心协力照料我们的共同家园和黎民百姓。”

The BBC quoted sources saying that before publication of Francis’ [interview], a Chinese delegation had visited the Vatican in January. According to other unconfirmed news, the Vatican has already reached an agreement with Beijing, allowing the Pope to appoint bishops in China.

英国广播公司引述的消息说,在教皇方济各的上述谈话发表之前,曾经有一个中国代表团在今年1月访问过梵蒂冈。证实的消息说,梵蒂冈已经同北京达成协议,允许教皇在中国任命主教。

Some comments say the Vatican’s settlement with Beijing was welcomed by many Chinese Catholics, but was also met with many [religious practitioner’s] opposition worrying that the Vatican was sacrificing their interests.

有评论指出,梵蒂冈同北京的和解受到许多中国天主教徒的欢迎,但是也受到许多教徒的反对,他们担心梵蒂冈牺牲他们的利益。

Concerning relations with China, there are also two opposing points of view within the Vatican. One group believes that treating China requires flexibility, thus earning Catholic followers greater freedoms. Another group believes that China’s regime has shown absolutely no change.

梵蒂冈内部有关中国问题也存在着两种对立的观点。一派认为,对待中国应该表现出灵活性,以便能让中国的天主教徒获得更大的自由。但是另一派认为,中国的政权根本没有发生变化。

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Related

Garden of Growing Imams, Sept 17, 2014
Retired Pope’s unachieved Dream, Mar 13, 2013
Certifying Living Buddhas (in Chinese), Garze Daily, Dec 2010

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Korean Peninsula: no Pain, no Denuclearization

North Korea’s “Historical Moment”

On February 7, North Korea launched a missile. Pyongyang referred ot it as a satellite launch, and that’s how they had registered it with the International Maritime Office in London, a few days earlier.

But the world appeared to be in disbelief. One month earlier, on January 6, North Korea had conducted a nuclear test, and given that space rockets’ and ballistic missiles’ technological platforms are quite similar to each other, it is believed that Pyongyang chose the space option (a three-stufen rocket) rather than a (two-stufen) missile so as to circumvent UN Security Council restrictions on its missile program.

Beijing, too, expressed disbelief and “regretted” the satellite launch which, as the foreign ministry spokesperson emphasized, had been based on ballistic-missile technology.

Pyongyang’s claim that it had tested a hydrogen bomb was met with skepticism in the West, in Japan, and South Korea, and at least semi-officially – via the world of Chinese science, as usual – Beijing expressed doubt, too.

He wouldn’t rule out that North Korea mastered a bit of hydrogen-bomb technology already, PLA Academy of Military Science researcher Du Wenlong told CCTV, but the available data “didn’t support a ‘hydrogen-bomb test’”.

There were no such doubts about North Korean television’s wonderweapon: “Heaven and earth are shaking because of the historical moment”, announced Ri Chun-hee, a veteran presenter, re-emerged from retirement for the festive occasion.

South Korea’s Reaction

And South Korea’s leadership was steaming with anger. If it was up to the South’s foreign minister, Yun Byung-he, the North Korean leadership would be entering a world of pain:

“I believe it is time for the international community to show zero tolerance to North Korea’s uncontrolled provocations”, he told the Munich Security Conference in Munich on Thursday, and: “it is time now to inflict unbearable pain on Pyongyang, to make them take the right strategic decision, as Iran has done.”

South Korea sees itself affected by Pyongyang’s nuclear test more immediately as other neighbors or opponents taking part in the six-party talks on the Korean peninsula’s denuclearization. Different from the world outside the peninsula, reunification of the two Koreas is on the agenda, even if outside the South Korean government, considerable doubts are expressed concerning the use and feasibility of such unification.

There was a special relationship between South Korea and Germany, because of the painful experience of division, South Korean president Park Geun-hye said during a visit to Berlin, in March 2014.

Her demand that “meticulous preparations” should be made for making Korean unity happen was probably meant seriously then, and still is. Basically, the situation on the Korean peninsula isn’t that different after the North’s fourth nuclear test, anyway: America and China can agree to a common denominator concerning sanctions against Pyongyang, but no sanctions that would call the continuation of the North Korean regime into question.

Besides, flashes of official Korean anger – northern or southern – might be considered a ritual. As German sinologist Oskar Weggel observed decades ago, student protests in [South] Korean cities always took the same shape and followed the same script, while life continued as normal just next to where young people were battling it out with the police. 1)

But for some South Korean companies, life may be anything but normal now. An industrial park jointly run in Kaesong, by North and South Korea, has ceased operation last week. On Thursday, Pyongyang deported all the South Korean employees to the South, after South Korea had stopped production. The South Koreans’ apparent attempt to take their assets and stock across the border to the South reportedly didn’t succeed: according to Radio Japn news on Friday, the North Korean committee for reunification announced that South Korean assets in Kaesong would be frozen, and also on Friday, China Radio International’s Mandarin service reported that the South Koreans had only been allowed to take personal belongings with them. The industrial park had been sealed off as a military zone – chances are that this halt will last longer than a previous one in 2013.

Valued more than 500 million USD in 2015, inter-Korean production in Kaesong may be considered less than decisive, in macro-economic terms. However, according to South Korean broadcaster KBS’ German service, South Korean opposition criticized the production halt in Kaesong as the governing party’s “strategy” for the upcoming parliamentary elections in April. Also according to KBS, Seoul feels compelled to take relief measures for companies invested in Kaesong. All companies residing in the industrial park are granted a moratorium on loan repayments, and companies who took loans from an inter-Korean cooperation fund may also suspend interest payment.

Chinese-North Korean Relations

China had “total control” of North Korea, Donald Trump claimed in a CNN interview – there would be nothing to eat in North Korea without China. If you go by statistics, Trump appears to have a point.

From 2009 to 2011, North Korean exports (imports) to (from) China rose from 348 mn (1.47 bn) USD to 2.5 bn (3.7 bn) USD. In total, North Korea’s exports (imports) reached a value of 3.7 bn (4.3 bn) USD.2) Even after a contraction of North Koran-Chinese trade in 2014 and 2015 to 2.3 bn (2.6 bn) USD by 2015, there’s hardly a way to reject the notion of North Korean dependence on China.

North Korea also depends on China in military terms. An American-led attack on Pyongyang – be it to occupy the North, be it for the sake of “regime change”, is hardly conceivable – directly or indirectly, Beijing’s nuclear umbrella protects the regime.

All the same, it is wrong to believe that Beijing wielded substantial influence over Pyongyang’s behavior. Neither economic nor military support from Beijing has been able to satisfy Pyongyang. Given Chinese reform and opening up “to the West”, or to international markets, since 1978, China’s leaders are considered weaklings by North Korean peers, despite some private-economy tries of their own. To consider oneself an economic or military dwarf, but a giant of ideological purity vis-à-vis China has some tradition in Korea.

That China has joined several initiatives – resolutions and sanctions – against North Korea hasn’t been a confidence-building measure for the neighbor and ally either.

That Pyongyang, under these circumstances, keeps striving for nuclear arms, come what may, is only logical – at least by the regime’s own interest –, and not negotiable, unless the regime falls. There are no conceivable guarantees – be it from Beijing, be it from Washington – that could make the North Korean political class abandon their nuclear goal.

American-Chinese Relations

No matter if there ever was or wasn’t a Western “guarantee” to the former USSR not to expand NATO eastward: a precondition for any feasible arrangement of that kind – in east or west – would be a situation where all parties involved would see themselves in a position to enter a non-aligned status, or to maintain one. There is no way that this could currently be done in East Asia. Even as there is no structure comparable to NATO in East Asia – and South-East Asia, for that matter -, none of China’s neighbors will discard the option to play America and China off against one another, thus increasing its own leeway – neither North Korea as China’s current “ally”, nor any other state within the former Chinese imperial state’s range of influence. And neither America nor China – strategic rivals of one another – would abandon the option to establish or to maintain alliances in Asia, based on partnership or on hegemony.

If the North Korean regime collapsed, there would be no guarantees for China that a North Korean power vacuum wouldn’t be filled by South Korea and the United States. And if China invaded Korea’s north preemptively, it wouldn’t only violate its own attitude of non-interference, but it would risk war, or at least a crash in its economic relations with America and many other countries. Not least, a Chinese invasion would harden an antagonism against China that already exists among former tributary states.

From China’s perspective, there is therefore no convincing alternative to the incumbent North Korean regime. The status quo costs less than any conceivable alternative scenario.

America knows that, too, and a newly lected president Trump would get real very quickly, or America would lose a great deal of influence in the region.

Frustrations

Last week’s developments will be most frustrating for the South Korean government, particularly for president Park. Her public-support rate will hardly depend on national reunification drawing closer, but it will depend on a reasonably relaxed co-existence with the North, including at least a few fields of cooperation, as has been the case in the Kaesong Industrial Park. The South Korean opposition’s accusations against the government to have stopped production carelessly or intentionally, it’s exactly because levelling such accusations can damage the government’s reputation with the electorate.

A phone call between Park and Chinese party and state leader Xi Jinping didn’t provide Park with good news either, let alone progress in her efforts to influence the North through international channels. China was still “not prepared” to change its …. Toward North Korea, an editorialist for South Korea’s Yonhap newsagency stated cautiously, adding a quote from Jonathan Pollack who had emphasized how Park had made efforts for good relations with Beijing, even by attending the Chinese military parade in September, commemorating the end of World War 2.

Pyongyang is hardly at risk to suffer from unbearable pains, as demanded by South Korea’s foreign minister in Munich.

But Beijing, too, can’t be happy with the situation. It offends face-conscious Chinese people to be fooled, on the world stage, by a gang – that’s how many Chinese view North Korea’s “elites”. The effects of North Korea’s behavior also strengthen the hand of the US in the region. Just as Pyongyang helps itself to a Chinese military umbrella without much cost (if any), most other neighbors afford themselves, to varying degrees, an American umbrella. Even Japan and South Korea, facing North Korean nuclear armament, might work to defuse mutual antagonism, as feared by Chinese military professor Zhang Zhaozhong, in 2010. Preparedness to improve Japanese-South Korean relations appears to be on the increase.

Besides the – aggressive indeed – role played by China in the South China sea, North Korea’s attitude remains another strong anchor point for America’s military and political presence in the Far East.

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Notes

1) Oskar Weggel: “Die Asiaten”, Munich 1989, 1994, 1997 p. 148
2) FAO/WFP Group and Security Assessment Mission to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Rome, Nov 28, 2013, p. 7

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Concerning the Korean Peninsula: Close Communication and Coordination

From the Memos – you may find identical, but, but also different phrases, in the Chinese (Xinhua) communiqués concerning Xi Jinping’s phone talks with the South Korean (1) and the American (3) presidents, respectively.

1. Telcon Park / Xi, Chinese Communiqué

Link: Xi Jinping’s Phone Conversation with South Korean President Park Geun-hye

习近平同韩国总统朴槿惠通电话

February 5, 2016, source: Xinhua

2016年02月05日 23:45:52 来源: 新华社

Xinhua, Beijing, February 5 — State Chairman Xi Jinping had a phone conversation with South Korean President Park Geun-hye on February 5. The two leaders exchanged lunar new year compliments and agreed to jointly promote the continuous improvement of Sino-South Korean relations to new levels.

新华社北京2月5日电 国家主席习近平5日同韩国总统朴槿惠通电话。两国领导人互致农历新年问候和祝福,同意共同推动中韩双边关系不断提高到新水平。

Xi Jinping pointed out that with the efforts of both sides, Sino-South Korean relations had achieved fruitful development. Mutual political trust and exchange and cooperation between the two countries in all areas was becoming closer day by day, the Sino-South Korean fre-trade agreement had officially taken effect and brought the peoples of both countries practical advantages, cultural exchanges were gratifying, both countries were linking their respective development strategies [to each others‘], maintaining close communication and coordination on international and regional issues. I want, together with President Park Geun-hye, continue the joint work to guide Sino-South Korean relations in all areas, to promote the continuous improvement of bilateral relations to new levels.

习近平指出,在双方共同努力下,中韩关系发展取得丰硕成果。两国政治互信和各领域交流合作日益密切,中韩自由贸易协定正式生效并给两国人民带来 实实在在的好处,人文交流呈现可喜局面,双方推动各自国家发展战略对接,在重大国际和地区问题上保持密切沟通和协调。我愿继续同总统女士共同指导好中韩关 系各领域工作,推动双边关系不断提高到新水平。

Park Geun-hye said that South Korea attached great importance to South Korean-Chinese relations, working for joint efforts with China, promoting the deepening of South Korean-Chinese cooperation in all areas. It was very important that the two countries‘ leaders maintained frequent contact on issues of mutual concern. South Korea was seriously concerned about North Korea’s recent fourth nuclear test and ist announcement to carry out another missile test. South Korea hoped that the international community would coordinate closely, and that the Security Council would, as quickly as possible, issue a reaction, to respond effectively to the current situation on the [Korean] peninsula.

朴槿惠表示,韩方高度重视韩中关系,致力于同中方共同努力,推进韩中各领域合作深入发展。两国领导人就共同关心的问题保持经常接触非常重要。韩 方对朝鲜不久前进行第四次核试验并宣布将再次进行发射活动表示严重关切。韩方希望国际社会密切协调,希望安理会尽快作出反应,有效应对当前半岛局势。

Xi Jinping emphasized that China would, in any situation, make resolute efforts to achieve the denuclearization of the peninsula, make resolute efforts to safeguard peace and stability on the peninsula, and maintain resolution of issues thourgh dialogue and consultation. This was in line with the fundamental interests of all north-east Asian countries, including China’s and South Korea’s. The peninsula must not have nuclear weapons, and no war or chaos must occur. We hope that all parties concerned will set out from the general situation of maintaining peace and stability on the peninsula, react with cool heads to the current situation, always maintaining the correct path of dialogue and consultations. China wants to maintain communication and coordination with South Korea, concerning the peninsula issue.

习近平强调,中方在任何情况下都坚定致力于实现半岛无核化,坚定致力于维护半岛和平稳定,坚持通过对话协商解决问题。这符合包括中韩在内东北亚 各国的共同利益。半岛不能有核,也不能生战生乱。我们希望有关各方从维护半岛和平稳定大局出发,冷静应对当前形势,始终坚持对话协商的正确方向。中方愿就 半岛问题继续同韩方保持沟通和协调。

Editor in charge: Qian Zhongbin

[责任编辑: 钱中兵 ]

2. Telephone Conversation Park / Xi, Blue House Communiqué

Link: Yonhap (Chinese), February 5

According to the South Korean presidential palace, the Blue House, President Park Geun-hye took a phone call from Chinese State Chairman Xi Jinping at 9 p.m., to exchange views about plans for a response to North Korea’s fourth nuclear test and its “missile launch”, about the situation on the Korean peninsula, the development of ,South Korean-Chinese relations, etc.. In the course of the 45-minutes phone call, Park Geun-hye called on China to provide support for the strong sanctions against North Korea, drafted and adopted by the UN Security Council.

韩联社首尔2月5日电 据韩国总统府青瓦台5日消息,总统朴槿惠当晚9时应邀同中国国家主席习近平通电话,就朝鲜第四次核试验、朝鲜“射弹”计划应对方案、韩半岛局势、韩中关系发展方案等交换了意见。在时长45分钟的通话过程中,朴槿惠呼吁中方对联合国安理会制定并通过强有力的对朝制裁决议给予支持。

During the phone call, Park emphasized that North Korea’s provocations constituted a threat for the Korean peninsula, north-east Asia, and the whole world. This time, the international community should take take action against North Korea as a strong signal, to make [Pyongyang] change its attitude, as in the UN Security Council’s drafted and adopted strong, practical and effective resolution. Park Geun-hye said as one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, and [as a country] with many means at hand to react to the North Korea issue, she hoped that China would play an active role to help the international community to strongly sanction North Korea.

朴槿惠在电话中强调,朝鲜发起的挑衅对韩半岛、东北亚乃至全球和平构成威胁,这次国际社会应该及时采取行动向朝鲜释放强烈信号促使其改变态度,如联合国安 理会制定并通过强而有力、切实有效的制裁决议。朴槿惠说,中国是安理会常任理事国之一,且拥有应对朝鲜问题的多种方法,希望中方积极协助国际社会强力制裁 朝鲜。

According to content bilaterally agreed to by the Korean and Chinese side, the Blue House did not disclose what Xi Jinping said during the phone call. Officials at the Blue House said that according to an understanding between South Korea and China under the current circumstances, both sides would issue statements with their respective own leader’s [communications] as the main content.

根据韩中双方商定的内容,青瓦台没有透露习近平电话中的发言内容。青瓦台有关负责人对此表示,韩中双方在相互谅解的情况下,就以本国领导人的发言内容为主公开通话情况达成了一致。

The two leaders had this exchange a month after North Korea’s sixth nuclear test on January 6. This was the first time that Xi Jinping exchanged views, concerning the North Korean nuclear testing and missile launch etc. issues, with a foreign leader. It is also the first phone call between a South Korean and a Chinese leader concerning the series of nuclear tests conducted by North Korea. North Korea had previously conducted nuclear tests in October 2006, May 2009, and February 2013. After these three nuclear tests, South Korean and Chinese leaders hadn‘t made phone calls to discuss relevant issues.

两位领导人自朝鲜1月6日进行第四次核试验后时隔1个月通电话就有关问题进行交流,这是习近平第一次与海外领导人就朝鲜核试与射弹等问题交换意见,也是韩中领导人在朝鲜历次进行核试验后第一次通电话。朝鲜曾在2006年10月、2009年5月、2013年2月进行核试验,这三次核试后韩中领导人并没有通电话商讨相关问题。

On February 2, North Korea informed the ICAO, the IMO and the ITU about its “satellite-launching” plan, saying that in accordance with national space development plan, it had decided to launch an earth observation satellite named “Shining Star”. The launching date would be some time from February 8 to February 25, at between 7 and 12 a.m. Pyongyang time (6:30 to 11:30 a.m. Beijing time).

2月2日,朝鲜向国际民用航空组织(ICAO)、国际海事组织(IMO)和国际电信联盟(ITU)通报其“卫星”发射计划,称依据国家宇宙开发计划决定发射地球观测卫星“光明星”。发射日期在2月8日至25日之间,发射时间在平壤时间上午7时至12时之间(北京时间上午6点半到11点半)。(完)

On February 5, Lee Seong-hyon, a researcher, portrayed president Park Geun-hye as having been very optimistic about building a successful working partnership with Xi Jinping, even to the point of expecting Chinese support for a Seoul-led unification of the two Koreas. Lee also offered explanations as to why her expectations had been too high.

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Related

Park, Xi discuss NK threats, The Korea Times, Febr 5/6, 2016
China still unprepared, Yonhap, Febr 6, 2016

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3. Telephone Conversation Obama / Xi, Chinese Communiqué

Link: Xi Jinping’s Phone Conversation with American President Barack Obama

习近平应约同美国总统奥巴马通话

February 6, 2016, source: Xinhua

2016年02月06日 01:37:07 来源: 新华社

Xinhua, February 5 — State Chairman Xi Jinping took a telephone call from American President Barack Obama. The two leaders exchanged spring festival compliments.

新华社北京2月5日电 国家主席习近平5日应约同美国总统奥巴马通话,两国领导人互致新春问候和祝福。

Xi Jinping pointed out that during the past year, with both sides‘ combined efforts, Sino-American relations had made significant progress. In the current situation, China and America must cooperate, and cooperation is possible on many issues. China wants to work side by side with America, to continue deepening cooperation in all areas, strengthen communication and coordination on international, regional and global issues, and promote the continuation of healthy and stable development of Sino-American relations.

习近平指出,过去一年,在双方共同努力下,中美关系取得重要进展。当前形势下,中美两国需要合作、能够合作的事情很多。中方愿同美方一道,继续深化各领域务实合作,加强在国际、地区、全球性问题上的沟通和协调,推动中美关系持续健康稳定发展。

Barack Obama said that he was very happy to talk with Chairman Xi Jinping as Chinese lunar new year was nearing, and hoped that American-Chinese relations would make new progress, that both sides would continue to work together, deepen cooperation, to advance peace, security and prosperity of their two countries and of the international community. America was seriously concerned about North Korea once again conducting a nuclear test and announcing missile test activities, and hoped that the international community would strengthen coordination, promoting the adoption of measures by the United Nations Security Council, to respond effectively to this situation. To this end, America wanted to strengthen cooperation with China.

奥巴马表示,很高兴在中国农历新年即将来临之际同习近平主席通话,希望美中关系取得新的进展,双方继续携手努力,深化合作,共同促进两国和国际 社会和平、安全、繁荣。美方对朝鲜再次进行核试验并宣布将进行发射活动有严重关切,希望国际社会加强协调,推动联合国安理会采取措施,有效应对这一局面。 美方愿就此加强同中方合作。

Xi Jinping emphasized that currently, the situation on the Korean peninsula was complicated and sensitive. China maintained the goal of a nuclear-free Korean peninsula, advocated efforts to solve problems through dialogue and consultations, safeguarding peace and stability on the peninsula, which would be in line with every party’s fundamental interests. China endorsed the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the international nuclear non-proliferation system, and wanted to maintain communication and coordination with all parties on this matter, including America.

习近平强调,当前,半岛形势复杂敏感。中方坚持半岛无核化目标,主张致力于通过对话协商解决问题,维护半岛和平稳定,这符合各方根本利益。中方赞成维护联合国安理会有关决议和国际核不扩散体系,愿同包括美方在内的有关各方就此保持沟通和协调。

Editor in charge: Qian Zhongbin

[责任编辑: 钱中兵 ]

4. Telephone Conversation Obama / Xi, White House Communiqué

Link: The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

February 05, 2016

Readout of the President’s Call with President Xi Jinping of China

The President today spoke by phone with President Xi Jinping of China to coordinate efforts in responding to North Korea’s January 6 nuclear test. Both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Both leaders also conveyed that they will not accept North Korea as a nuclear weapon state. They agreed that North Korea’s planned ballistic missile test would contravene multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions and represent another provocative and destabilizing action. Finally, the leaders emphasized the importance of a strong and united international response to North Korea’s provocations, including through an impactful UN Security Council Resolution.

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Want more? Continue reading there.

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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Blogroll, Syria Peace Conference, Etc.

1. Blogroll

Only some of the (formerly) many links on the masthead to the right have worked in recent months. So I’ve made up my mind and built an extra page – Blogroll, see »there.

2. Syria Peace Conference

The good news is that “regime change” is not a terribly easy business anymore. In the long run, that could serve global peace rather well.

The bad news is legion.

But peace is always possible, as demonstrated in the picture underneath. (Looks kind of contrived, but whoever arranged this, it wasn’t me.)

Two bottles of Statesman

Give peace a chance – hug a Statesman

3. Else

No big blogging activities here recently, but I wrote a blog in German this weekend, about political rituals in China ahead of Spring Festival.

 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

“Internet Plus” Updates

As Chinese economic growth isn’t quite itself these days, the innovation buzzword keeps growing. State chief councillor Li Keqiang‘s Internet Plus action plan, described in some detail on March 5 last year in his work report to the Third Session of the 12th “National People’s Congress”, is being revived as a news item and covered here by the Washington Post. The article describes an internet town near Haikou as a place where little else can be done:

According to the local government, the Internet Town project will cover the entire Shishan township in 2018, with the completion of an online trading platform and an operation center as well as other facilities. The project will be a major engine for local growth, creating a new source of income for farmers along with the tourism industry that features volcanic tours.

Meantime, the English-language “Global Times” focuses on places where a lot of things that make sense could be done, and where a number of building owners (you can’t say landlord in China) fell for the business concepts of kids whose first profession was to be their daddies’ sons (reportedly, anyway), and who burnt their business war chests rather than using them mindfully. But obviously, the article is generally optimistic about a phoenix [that] will rise from the ashes of the first wave of China’s tech boom.

Chinese innovation may not be exactly what Japan’s industry is waiting for, but Chinese growth is. Ikuo Hirata, a columnist with a number of Japanese papers, suggests that Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe should stop counting on China’s economy as a booster for Abenomics, and that the government should lower its growth target.

Hirata also warns that

[w]hile working to reduce excess capacity in the steel and other traditional sectors, Chinese policymakers are also trying to help high-tech industries, such as robotics, sophisticated machine tools and aerospace, catch up with their rivals in advanced economies. The technological prowess of a country that has a successful manned space mission under its belt should not be underestimated.

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Related

» Traditional industries, new bones, April 17, 2015

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