A carefully thought-out and written → article there. Quoting single lines or paragraphs wouldn’t provide an accurate account of James Fallows‘ reflections on U.S. President Barack Obama‘s planned Hiroshima visit.
US President Barack Obama gave NHK an exclusive interview ahead of his arrival in Japan, reports NHK, emphasizing that Obama would be the first sitting US President to visit the atomic-bombed city.
A full account of the interview doesn’t seem to be available online yet. NHK provides a video with excerpts from the interview.
News like this doesn’t make much sense without context. US-Japan relations, frequently dubbed one of the closest alliances worldwide, were contentious in 2009, according to the New York Times. At the time, Japan had just seen its first transition of power from one political party to another, and the Hatoyama government – in short – called for a more equal relationship with the United States, with a number of possible ramifications.
The departure from the usual Liberal-Democrats rule in Japan was only an interlude. And a nation’s foreign policies are usually bi-partisan, or meta-partisan – in Japan, too.
From the Middle East to Ukraine, questions are being asked about the U.S. ability and willingness to maintain peace. If it cannot or will not, who will fill the void?,
the Nikkei Asian Review asked in May 2015.
Japan sees its future more within Asia, the NYT quoted Eswar S. Prasad back then. That, however, doesn’t necessarily benefit Sino-Japanese relations, as suggested by the NYT six years earlier. Rather, Japan appears to be warming to Russia.
Japan and Russia have especially found ample opportunity to conduct a coordinated response to the most recent security crisis in North Korea. Japan and Russia have also sought to increase their economic and financial ties, which are particularly important for the development of the Russian Far East,
Anthony Rinna of the Sino-NK research group noted in March this year. The Russian pivot to the East – possibly with a lot of help from Tokyo – was hampered by two obstacles however, Rinna cautioned: the long-standing dispute over the Kuril Islands, and Japan’s alignment with the West over the Ukraine crisis.
the containment of China remains the primary purpose of the Japan-U.S. defense apparatus, U.S. strategic containment of Russia also continues to be an important factor in the Japan-U.S. alliance, which comprises one key flank of the American strategic posture in Asia,
But being part of an alliance doesn’t mean that Japan would forgo foreign policies of its own. When Obama (reportedly) tried to talk Japanese prime minister Abe out of a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin, his appeal was unsuccessful.
It’s not only Japan who needs to take existing alliances into consideration. The same is true for Russia – but less so than Japan. Russian obligations toward China can’t be compared to Japan’s obligations toward America. That may not be a general opinion in China, but observers who watch the developments probably wouldn’t be caught by surprise if Russia and Japan were to sign a peace treaty in the not too distant future.
In December 2013, Cui Heng (崔珩) of the East China Normal University’s Russia Research Center in Shanghai, published an opinion on the China Internet Information Center (中国网) website. Titled “Russia won’t keep away from Japan because of Russia-Chinese relations”, Cui’s article pointed out that Russia’s preparedness to be considerate of China was limited, even though Sino-Russian relations were “at their best in history”.
Abe’s generation in particular had, because of their country’s economic successes, developed a sense of national greatness, and were seeking normalization for Japanese statehood. The economic revival after Abe’s taking office [there was a revival indeed, three years ago] had added to this conscience among Japanese politicians, Cui wrote. Ending the official state of war with Russia would be part of normalization. Even if hardly relevant in military terms, the status quo weighed heavily in terms of in terms of symbolism.
By coming to formally peaceful terms with Russia, Japan could also shed its status as a defeated country, Cui argued, and then addressed a factor that made Russia’s perception of Japan different from both China’s, and America’s:
Russia isn’t only prepared to develop beneficial relations with Japan for geopolitical reasons. In Russian historical memory, there isn’t much hate against Japan. During the age of the great empires, Japanese-Russian relations in the Far East were of a competitive nature. Many Russians still talk about the 1905 defeat, but the Far East wasn’t considered a place that would hit Russian nerve as hard as the crushing defeat in the Crimean war. Back then, Japan wasn’t perceived as a threat for Russia, and from another perspective, if there had been anti-Japanese feelings, there wouldn’t have been a revolution. According to perception back then, the  defeat was a result of the Russian government’s incompetence, not [brought about by] a strong adversary. The outstanding achievements of the Soviet Red Army in 1945 led to a great [positive] Russian attitude, but still without considering Japan a great enemy.
By visiting Hiroshima, Obama appears to make a concession to Tokyo’s desire for “normalization”. Of course, few decisions are made for only one reason – they are part of a network, or hierarchy, of objectives. One objective was stated by Obama himself – that we should continue to strive for a world without nuclear weapons.
There is no great likelihood that Japan would shift away from the alliance with Washington. Japan’s distrust of China probably outweighs even America’s. That’s a stabilizing factor in US-Japanese relations.
But Tokyo is certainly trying to put its relations with America on a more equal footing – not just formally, but by creating diplomatic and economic facts that will help to further this aim.
Russia’s Far East is nothing to disregard, in terms of its economic potential. Japan can do business with Ukraine, and with Russia, and is likely to cooperate with both.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
3. Telephone Conversation Obama / Xi, Chinese Communiqué
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.
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.
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.
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.
Want more? Continue reading there.
The following is a translation of an article published by Xinhua news agency on Tuesday. Links within blockquotes added during translation.
Chairman Xi Jinping’s first [update/correction: state] visit to America has been successfully concluded. It hasn’t only brought the nervous talk about qualitative changes in Sino-American relations to an end, but it also provided the global economy with positive expectations, successfully managed differences and risks, and to the Asia-Pacific and even to the world’s peace and stability, it has brought positive energy.
This shows once again that the new type of big-power relations between China and America are possible, feasible, and projectable. On the road of building [these relations], some indications can be found:
— From the bottom to the top. America’s elites, particularly its strategic elites, are worried about China, talk negatively about the direction of Sino-American relations, while the the district levels and common people are less affected by ideological and national-security interference, with a positive development for Sino-American relations. As for American diplomacy, Chairman Xi therefore particularly emphasized regional and local cooperation and doing mass work, to explore how the roads of the Chinese dream and the American dream are interlinked.
— Adding to the existing quantities. Bilateral Sino-American trade is at an annual average of six-hundred billion US dollars, and Chinese investment in America is expected to rise to 200 billion US dollars by 2020. American diplomacy constantly digs into the potentials of economic cooperation, [no translation found]. The Sino-American Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) is considered important by both sides.
— Shelving smaller differences from common ground. China and America are the world’s leading powers, and interest conficts are inevitable. What matters is mutual respect, to follow the principles of no clashes and no confrontation [or antagonism], to strive for common ground while setting small aside differences. For example, in the previous stir about internet hacking issues, the theft of trade secrets was a small [legal] case, while the common ground is about rules for an open internet, with great peace and security. Having grasped this trend, through the U.S.-China Internet Industry Forum and other activities, and the promotion of network cooperation, had become a highlight of Chairman Xi Jinping’s visit to America. Arriving at consensus concerning the joint statement on climate change and other issues, and having built a solid foundation for the United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Paris at the end of this year, are commended by the world.
[Global order issues / One-Belt-one-Road initiative / U.S. concerns alleviated]
The Chinese and American path of establishing new-type big-power relations is constantly explored further. Chairman Xi Jinping’s visit to America has provided an example for this kind of exploration, directing the focus on the future development of Sino-American relations, and an example for the new-type big-power relations of the 21rst century.
The Taipei Times compared Pope Francis‘ and Xi Jinping‘s leadership styles: the Chinese traveller to America was outwardly strong and internally weak, while the Roman-Argentinian was the exact opposite, the paper wrote in an online article on Tuesday. As a man who kept close to the public, was met with large crowds of people wherever he went and held Mass for almost 1 million people, the Pope had been a perfect example of soft power.
That was a bit like lauding a model mineworker for churning out tons of coal every day, and criticizing a goldsmith for not doing likewise – or vice versa.
Soft power abroad? Quite a number of Chinese people – especially Chinese people with some exposure to foreign cultures and hurt feelings – may long for it, and the Economist logically threatened Xi with something worse than criticism: neglect. But the politburo could care less. As long as the results are satisfactory – and as long as people at home can be made believe that Americans (not just at Boeing) could hardly wait for the Chinese visitor, everything is staying the desirable course.
But what are the results?
The two sides reached broad consensus and achieved a number of positive results, Ta Kung Pao (Hong Kong) wrote on Sunday:
According to a list published by the Chinese ministry of commerce on September 26, the major consensus and results reached by the two sides can be counted as 49 points, fitting into five big categories. Obama, on his own initiative, reiterated that America maintained the one-China principle and did not support “Taiwan independence”, “Tibet independence”, “Xinjiang independence”, and that America would not get involved in Hong Kong affairs.*)
According to Xinhua reports, Xi Jinping made important suggestions concerning the next stage of Sino-American relations, emphasizing the need to promote Sino-American relations that would always develop along the correct track. The two sides agreed to continue efforts to build Sino-American great-power relations of a new type. He [Xi] also emphasized that the Chinese nation was highly sensitive about matters concerning China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. He hoped that America would scrupulously abide by the relevant promises, not to support any action aimed at harming China’s unity and stability.
In this regard, Obama, on his own initiative, reiterated that America maintained the one-China principle, scrupulously abided by the principles of the three Sino-US Joint Communiqués, and that this position would not change. America did not support “Taiwan independence”, “Tibetan independence”, and “Xinjiang independence”, and would not get involved in Hong Kong affairs. This is the second time after denying American connection to Hong Kong’s “Occupy Central”, during the APEC summit last year, that Obama stated his position.*)
The 49 projects, results and consensus concern the five great fields of Sino-American great-power relations of a new type, practical bilateral cooperation, Asia-Pacific affairs, international affairs, and global challenges. Among these, nearly twenty negotiation points pertaining to financial and trade cooperation and the Sino-American Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), awaited by all circles, have made progress. The information published by the Chinese ministry of information pointed out that both the Chinese and American leader had reiterated that to reach a high-level investment agreement was “the most important economic issue between the two countries”, and that both sides had agreed to strongly push the negotiations and to accelerate the work.
The Chinese achievement list unequivocally mentions: “The two countries’ leaders reiterate that to reach a high-level investment agreement is “the most important economic issue between the two countries”, and both sides agree to “strongly push the negotiations and to accelerate the work, so as to reach a mutually beneficial, double-win, high-level investment agreement”.
China Institute of International Studies researcher Yang Xiyu says that this position [held by] the two heads of state was of historical significance, meaning that the world’s biggest developed and the world’s biggest developing country could, as fast as possible, achieve BIT, and that the world’s two biggest economic entities achieving BIT will raise the long-awaited effects, further solidifying the foundations of mutual trust in trade.
Within the list of achievements, several points of consensus have been reached concerning Sino-American network security cooperation, such as China and America agreeing that each country’s government must not engage in, or knowingly support, the stealing of intellectual property rights, including trade secrets, and other classified trade information. China and America committed themselves to jointly define and promote appropriate standards of international society conduct on the internet, and to establish a high-level, joint dialogue system between the two countries, to strike at cyber crime and related issues. A number of American experts said that this was an important outcome of this [Xi] visit, and that strengthening cooperation about network security was a really important field of work in Sino-American relations. Indiana University professor and high-level Council of Foreign Relations network security researcher David P. Fidler believes that the two countries’ having achieved this consensus is “of major significance, and welcome news”.
The two sides will also strengthen anti-corruption cooperation, strengthen high-speed rail cooperation, strengthen cultural exchange cooperation, and reach consensus in reaction to global challenges, broaden practical cooperation on bilateral, regional and global levels, and manage and control differences and sensitive issues in a constructive manner, continuously achieving new positive results.
A benevolent label for these outcomes could be progress, and an accurate one would be unverifiable progress. It’s sort of obvious that Washington and Beijing wouldn’t issue a snafu statement at the end of the talks. What Beijing might consider a real achievement, however, is the prevention of an exchange of sanctions in the wake of the “network security”, i. e. hack-and-spy, controversies. That doesn’t go without saying – news coverage during late summer pointed to a chance that this could happen.
Hong Kong website Fenghuang (or Ifeng), in an article on September 22, attributed much of the success in defusing the conflicts to a visit by a delegation to Washington from September 9 to 12:
China attaches great importance to Sino-American relations and their future development, and does not ignore the concrete problems that occupy America.
From September 9 – 12, politburo member and the central committee’s political and judicial committee secretary Meng Jianfu visited America in his capacity as Xi Jinping’s special envoy, together with [a delegation of] responsibles at offices for public security, the judiciary, network communication, etc.. He had talks with secretary of state John Kerry, homeland security secretary Jeh Johnson, national security adviser Susan Rice, and other central [US] authorities, to exchange views about cyber crime and other outstanding problems, and to achieve important consensus. Meng Jianzhu’s trip broke with old habits. Under Xi Jinping’s leadership, China’s diplomacy has become more direct and more practical.
9月9日至12日，中共中央政治局委员、中央政法委书记孟建柱以 习近平特使身份，率公安、安全、司法、网信等部门有关负责人访问美国，同美国国务卿克里、国土安全部部长约翰逊、总统国家安全事务助理赖斯等核心部门举行 会谈，就共同打击网络犯罪等突出问题深入交换意见，达成重要共识。中央政法委书记作为特使，打破以往惯例，习近平治下的中国外交更加直接务实。
That, and some more soothing soundbytes from Beijing, appeared to have had their effect on Washington, suggests Fenghuang:
On September 16, Obama made remarks about cyber security again, but according to Reuters, America will not impose sanctions on so-called “cyber attacks” before Xi Jinping’s visit, and maybe not afterwards either.
After all, the main goal of the Obama administration had been to put pressure on Beijing, and to address domestic complaints, the Fenghuang article believed.
What looks credible – because it’s said to be long-established practice anyway – is that whatever consensus was indeed there between Washington and Beijing had been reached before Xi Jinping even set foot on American soil.
When he reached the American West Coast from Beijing, he meant business, not soft power – although there’s probably something charming to a 300-aircraft order form, at least among the stakeholders. The traditional microcosms were also conscientiously cultivated, even if Winston Ross of Newsweek was not convinced:
[Xi Jinping’s] handlers, who had corralled me and the reporters from the Associated Press, Bloomberg and the Los Angeles Times for the previous hour in anticipation of this exchange, apparently assumed we all spoke Mandarin. The Times reporter shot me a bewildered look. I shrugged. Xi said something to Oregon Governor Kate Brown that she found hilarious. We asked for a transcript of his remarks. We were not given one.
That occasion, Xi’s first stop – i. e. the meeting with American governors and Chinese provincial governors -, wasn’t (much) about substance, Ross alleged. He could have known better, even without translation: maintaining contacts between many layers of business and politics – not just the top echelons – is both a Chinese move to keep contacts going even if top-level relations between China and another country should deteriorate. Besides, while Confucius Institutes and other means of
indoctrination soft power may face some scrutiny at federal or central governments of democratic countries, regional authorities may lack the resources that such scrutiny would require.
Chinese central leaders waste no time with unsubstantial meetings. They waste no time with soft-power ambitions either. It’s the technology, stupid.
*) VoA has a somewhat different take on this: according to their newsarticle on Wednesday, Obama referred to both the Three Joint Communiqués, and the Taiwan Relations Act, and that had been the only public remarks made about Taiwan during Xi’s state visit in Washington. Ta Kung Pao omitted the mention of the TRA.