Posts tagged ‘North Korea’

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Obituary: Ryu Mi-yong, 1921 – 2016

Ryu Mi-yong, chairwoman of the North Korean “Chondoist Chongu Party”, died of lung cancer on Wednesday, November 23, aged 95, according to North Korean newsagency KCNA (no permalink).

Thanks to the profound trust and love of the great leaders she could make a dramatic U turn in her life and enjoyed a worthwhile life after permanently settling in the DPRK together with her husband Choe Tok Sin,

writes KCNA, referring to the couple’s defection from South to North Korea in 1986. Reportedly, they had moved to the United States, or fled there, ten years prior to their defection. Her husband, late Choe Duck-shin (or Choe Deok-sin, or Choi Duk Shin), had been the Park regime’s foreign minister from 1961 to 1963. From 1963 to 1967, he served as South Korea’s Ambassador to West Germany.

And if KCNA portrays her correctly, like many converts, Ryu Mi-yong was tougher than the rest:

She revered Marshal Kim Jong Un as God of the nation and the sun of salvation of the world and the people and worked heart and soul to bring earlier a new day of unity of all Koreans and country’s reunification till the last moments of her life.

直到生命的最后一刻,敬仰金正恩元帅为民族的上天、救世济民的太阳,为早日迎来全民族的团结和统一的未来献出了一切。

The “party” she chaired apparently draws on a Korean religious movement called Cheondoism.

According to Yonhap Newsagency, South Korea’s reunification ministry, on November 19 granted Ryu’s second son a travel permit to the North, for humanitarian reasons, given that his mother had been terminally ill.

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Updates/Related

“Chondoism, translated into reality”, Pyongyang Times, Sept 29, 2016

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Saturday, November 19, 2016

People’s Daily: “Little NATO” drawing nearer as Japan and South Korea initial Intelligence Sharing

South Korean parliamentary opposition leader Woo Sang-ho of the main oppositional Minjoo Party said on Monday that they would impeach or dismiss the defense minister if the government went ahead with plans to sign a General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA).

Chinese Communist Party organ People’s Daily wrote on Wednesday or Thursday that if signed, this would be the first military cooperation agreement between the two countries after World War 2, and criticized the tw0 governments’ moves indirectly, by quoting a military expert.

→Link

On November 14, South Korea’s and Japan’s initialled a “Military Intelligence Protection Agreement”. If officially signed, this would be the first military cooperation agreement after the second world war. Military expert Zhang Junshe said in an interview with People’s Daily online that if the agreement in question was signed, the two countries would bypass America and exchange intelligence directly. This was significant good news for Japan and America, but for South Korea, this was like drinking Zhen poison to quench its thirst, or to allow the wolf into the house. The agreement could damage peace and stability on the Korean peninsula, and negatively affect peace and stability in the entire North-East Asian region.

14日,韩国和日本政府草签了《军事情报保护协定》。如该协定正式签署,这将是两国自第二次世界大战结束后签署的首份军事合作协定。军事专家张军社在接受人民网采访时表示,若该协定正式签署,日韩两国将绕过美国直接共享情报,这对日美两国是重大利好消息,但对韩国而言则如同饮鸩止渴、引狼入室。该协定可能破坏朝鲜半岛的和平稳定,对整个东北亚地区的和平稳定也会带来不利影响。

According to a report by South Korea’s “JoongAng Ilbo” on November 15, South Korea hopes to use Japan’s reonnaissance satellites, radar, and other advanced equipment to gather intelligence, while Japan could make use of intelligence gathered by traditional Korean manpower.

据韩国《中央日报》15日报道,韩国希望利用日本的侦察卫星和雷达等尖端装备获取情报;而对日本来说,则可利用韩国传统人工收集的情报。

Currently, there are separate “Military Intelligence Protection Agreements” between South Korea and the US and Japan and the US respectively, but the exchange of military intelligence between South Korea and Japan needs to go through America as a “connecting airport”, with no “direct flight”.

目前,韩美、日美之间分别缔结有《军事情报保护协定》,不过韩日两国交换军事情报需要通过美国这个“中转站”,双方之间并无“直航”。

Zhang Junshe pointed out that Japan had advanced military technology at its disposal and could rely on advanced reconaissance satellites, radar, and other first-class equipment to gather information concerning North Korea’s nuclear tests, missile launches etc., while South Korea, owing to its geographical advantage, could gather first-hand intelligence gathered by agents and spies. If Japan and South Korea signed the “Military Intelligence Protection Agreement”, the two sides could bypass America and exchange intelligence directly.

张军社指出,日本具有先进的军事科技,可凭借其先进的侦察卫星和雷达等尖端装备获得朝鲜核试验和导弹发射等情报信息,而韩国凭借地理优势,可获得更多由特工、间谍人员等获得的第一手人工情报。日本和韩国一旦签署《军事情报保护协定》,双方将可以绕过美国直接交换军事情报。

Some media reports point out that military cooperation between South Korea and Japan was a sensitive issue, because of the history of Japanese colonial rule over South Korea from 1910 to 1945 on the one hand, and also because of territorial disputes between the two sides. With historical and territorial issues unresolved, the South Korean government has always faced continuous resistance. On June 29, 2012, the South Korean government even brought a signing to an “emergency halt”, right on the scheduled day of signing.

有媒体报道指出,军事合作在韩日两国合作中属敏感范畴,一方面缘于日本1910年至1945年在朝鲜半岛推行殖民统治的历史,另一方面缘于双方现在的领土争议。在历史和领土问题均未解决的情况下,韩国政府推动签署军事情报方面协定一直面临重重阻力。2012年6月29日,韩国政府甚至在原定协定签署日当天“紧急叫停”。

This time, South Korea and Japan have signed the “Military Intelligence Protection Agreement” at tremendous speed, and South Korea said that it had only taken about a dozen days to conduct and intitial the agreement. Reportedly, the two sides will also work hard to sign the agreement by the end of November, after completing domestic procedures.

此次日韩两国“火速”草签《军事情报保护协定》,从韩方宣布重启有关协定谈判到协定草签仅用了十几天。据称,双方还将力争在完成国内手续后,于11月底前正式签署协定。

How could a agreement that had been stalled for years be settled in a dozen days? The background factors are providing food for thought.

一个多年无法的协定如今为何在短短十几天便得以尘埃落定?背后缘由耐人寻味。

According to Zhang Junshe, Japan has, after the end of World War 2, never profoundly reflected on the crimes it committed to the countries of North-East Asia. While America and Japan had made efforts all along to facilitate the signing of the “Military Intelligence Protection Agreement”, the opposing domestic voices in South Korea had always been very strong. The South Korean masses fear Japanese militarism’s rise from the ashes, so as to trample over the Korean peninsula once again. There are various reasons for Japan and South Korea to rush the initialling of the “Military Intelligence Protection Agreement”. From South Korea’s perspective, with president Park Geun-hye’s “Choigate” scandal almost inescapable for the government, the country is facing a serious domestic crisis. By signing military cooperation with Japan, domestic sight can be shifted and passed on to the crisis, thus easing the pressure on Park Geun-hye’s government because of “Choigate”. Also, as South Korea’s agreement to the American deoployment of the “THAAD” anti-missile system had led to a deepening of contradictions with China, Russia, and other neighboring countries, South Korea’s choice to deepen previous cooperation with Japan can also, to a certain degree, ease pressure from neighboring countries. In addition, America is very positive about facilitating the Japanese-South Korean signing of the “Military Intelligence Protection Agreement”. America has always hoped to strengthen military cooperation between its two Asia-Pacific allies, but for historical reasons, Japan and South Korea have, for a long time, given an appearance of unity while being divided in fact. If Japan and South Korea officially sign the “Military Intelligence Protection Agreement” at last, this undoubtedly spells an important result for America’s “Rebalance to Asia and the Pacific”, conducive to pulling Japan and South Korea together for the formation of a “small NATO” concept.

据张军社介绍,二战结束以来,日本从未对其在二战期间对东北亚各国所犯下的罪行作出深刻反省。虽然美、日方面一直在努力促成日韩签订《军事情报保护协定》,而韩国国内的反对声音一直十分强烈。韩国民众唯恐日本军国主义死灰复燃,再次践踏朝鲜半岛。此次日韩“火速”草签《军事情报保护协定》,原因是多方面的。从韩国方面看,目前朴槿惠政府深陷“闺蜜门”事件难以自拔,韩国内部面临着严重的政治危机。韩国此时与日本签署军事合作,可以转移国内视线,转嫁危机,减轻“闺蜜门”事件给朴槿惠政府带来的压力。此外,由于韩国同意美国在韩部署“萨德”反导系统,导致韩国与中国、俄罗斯等邻国矛盾加深,所以韩国选择加强与日本之前的合作,某种程度上也能减轻周边国家对其造成的压力。另外,美国对促成日韩签署《军事情报保护协定》非常积极。美国一直希望它的两个亚太盟友加强军事合作,但日韩两国因为历史问题长期貌合神离。若日韩最终正式签署《军事情报保护协定》,无疑是美国“亚太再平衡”战略的重要成果,有利于实现美国拉日韩两国构建东北亚“小北约”的构想。

Ma Yao, special researcher with the School of International Relations and Public Affairs at Shanghai International Studies University, told media that for a long time, the main obstacle for building trilateral US-Japanese-South Korean military cooperation had been in South Korea, and the progress in South-Korean-Japanese military cooperation meant that the obstacle for trilateral military cooperation was reduced and might never return. This was a “watershed” in South-Korean-Japanese cooperation in the military field.

上海外国语大学国际关系与公共事务学院特约研究员马尧在接受媒体采访时表示,长期以来,美国构建美日韩三边军事合作的主要障碍在韩国,而韩日军事合作方面的进展意味着三边军事合作的障碍或将不复存在,这是“韩日在军事领域合作的分水岭”。

For Japan and America, it would clearly be significant good news if Japan and South Korea signed the “Military Intelligence Protection Agreement”.

日韩若签署《军事情报保护协定》,对日本和美国而言,显然都是重大利好消息。

Zhang Junshe pointed out that under the guise of the North Korea crisis, Japan could take advantage of the situation and get involved in the affairs of the Korean peninsula, broaden its right to discourse, thus increasing its influence in Northeast Asian affairs. For America, closer military cooperation between Japan and South Korea is conducive to advancing its control of the two allied countries further, to serve its “Rebalance to Asia and the Pacific” strategy, to achieve its goal of controlling North East Asia, and to advance and achieve the protection of its regional hegemony.

张军社指出,日本未来可以以朝鲜危机为幌子,趁机介入朝鲜半岛事务,扩大其在朝鲜半岛事务中的话语权,进而提升其在东北亚局势中的影响力。对美国而言,日韩两国更紧密的军事合作有利于其进一步控制这两个盟国,为其“亚太再平衡”战略服务,实现其控制东亚的目标,进而实现维护其地区霸权的目的。

The next paragraph translation is a stub (or whatever). It apparently refers to undoing the limits put on Japan’s military power after WW2, and the Shinzo Abe government’s goal to “normalize” Japan’s military policies.

You can contribute to a translation.

In March 2016, Japan’s new military legislation was officially implemented, allowing Japan to go from ordinary times to “有事”时, from its own ground to freely using force abroad.

2016年3月,日本新安保法正式实施,使日本获得了从平时到“有事”时、从本土到周边再到全球自由对外使用武力的权限,从而使日本绕过和平宪法束缚,初步实现长期追求的“军事正常化”目标。

If Japan and South Korea sign the “Military Intelligence Protection Agreement”, this will open a channel for Japan to get involved in matters of the Korean peninsula. For South Korea, this undoubtedly means  drinking Zhen poison as a thirst quencher and allowing the wolf into the house, turning South Korea into the biggest victim. Zhang Junshe says that South Korea’s government, in order to shift the pressure from “Choigate” and to respond to America’s call, to resist China’s and Russia’s resistance against the “THAAD” deployment in South Korea, and to involve Japan, presents itself, on the surface, as retaliation against North Korea, it actually helps America to form a military alliance system in the Asia-Pacific region, and provides the conditions for Japan to step into the Korean peninsula.

若日韩签订《军事情报保护协定》,“则为日本介入朝鲜半岛事务打开了一个通道,这对韩国而言无异于饮鸩止渴、引狼入室,韩国将成为最大的受害者。”张军社如是说,韩国政府为了转移“闺蜜门”事件的压力,同时响应美国的号召,抵抗中国和俄罗斯对“萨德”入韩的反对,将日本拉拢过来,表面看是为了对付朝鲜,实际上是在帮助美国在亚太构建军事同盟体系,为日本插足朝鲜半岛提供条件。

Zhang Junshe also said that the main goal of the Japanese-South Korean “Military Intelligence Protection Agreement” was to strengthen shared intelligence about North Korea, and that this kind of military alliance directed against third countries was an expression of cold-war mentality that would cause fierce reactions from North Korea. It could damage peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and negatively affect peace and stability in the entire North East Asian region. As North Korea’s closest neighbor, China could therefore also face more security threats.

张军社还说,日韩《军事情报保护协定》主要目的就是要加强有关朝鲜情报的共享,这种针对第三国的军事同盟是冷战思维的表现,必然引起朝鲜方面的激烈反应,可能破坏朝鲜半岛的和平稳定,对整个东北亚地区的和平稳定也会带来不利影响。中国作为朝鲜半岛的近邻,也可能因此面临更多安全威胁。

South Korean Arriang News TV reported on Friday that the agreement could become effective without parliamentary approval in South Korea (where the government lost its majority in April this year). However, 59 percent of the public disapproved of the agreement.

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.

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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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Big Musical Statement: Pyongyang pulls the Plug on Beijing Performance

It had been no small affair: when the Moranbong Band’s train entered China on Wednesday, passing through China’s border city Dandong, the Korean Workers Party’s deputy propaganda director was on board, the “political knowledge office” (政知局), particularly designed by the Chinese authorities to disseminate truth, knowledge and common sense through the “social media”, reported on Friday. Some time earlier, a number of North Korean officials, Kim Ki-nam and China’s ambassador to North Korea, Li Jinjun (李进军), among them, had seen the military pop band off in Pyongyang. In August, the “political knowledge office”, republished here by the Shenyang Daily website, had successfully performed in Moscow.

It’s seen as the latest sign that the two countries’ longstanding alliance is on the mend again, after being strained by North Korea’s third nuclear test in 2013,

the BBC wrote on Wednesday.

On December 10, one day after entering China through Dandong, a city right on the Sino-Korean border, the troupe reached Beijing. The visit, originally scheduled to last from December 10 to 15, had been announced on very short notice, and surprisingly, according to the “political knowledge office” who reportedly said on their Weibo account that they had only got the information when the Moranbong Band, and their colleagues from North Korea’s State Merited Chorus, were already travelling.

After Liu Yunshan‘s visit to Pyongyang, the highest level of North Korean culture was now visiting Beijing, Shenyang Daily online wrote on Friday, still leaning on the correct information from the “political knowledge office”.

Maybe next time, China’s media should only get and publish the information once the two North Korean bands are on their way back to Pyongyang – and only after having performed on all agreed occasions.

The coming hours or days may tell what went “wrong”, be it on the “working level”, as stated by Xinhua, be it at the Chinese and North Korean top level – if the North Koreans had planned the propaganda implosion from the beginning.

When it comes to the spoilt bunch that claims to be North Korea’s rightful leaders, and their funny stuff, Beijing’s face skin is already very thick. But it can’t be stuff of dreams to be China’s ambassador to the mysterious northeastern neighbor.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

We vow to Thee, Big Neighbor (maybe next time)

Newsflash: The long-awaited performance of North Korea’s Moranbong Band in Beijing has been cancelled. Xinhua newsagency reportedly cites communication reasons on the working level (因工作层面间沟通衔接原因) as causing the abrupt cancellation.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Kim Jong-un: Learning from Foreign Models

North Korea may be a very proud country, taking no orders but from the supreme leader. But the supreme leader himself doesn’t consider himself above learning from great personalities. See for yourselves:

feeling_maozedong

feeling_helmutschmidt

feeling_brezhnew

Now it’s your turn. How many more international models for Kim can you find within the relevant coverage?

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Updates/Related

» Glorious Haircut, Nov 27, 2015

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