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US regulates crisis in Korean Peninsula

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North Korea is keen to resolve the crisis in the region by talking with the South Korea but USA is eager to further stain the relations between the North and South so that the Korean peninsula remains tensed.

North Korea continues to reintegrate that USA and its allies cannot bully it and the country has got secured defense capabilities.

Resolution of Korean crisis, alike any other region like Mideast and South Asia depends entirely on USA because it controls South Korea and Japan. Dictator Trump is set to complicate international relations to suit its arms sales.

Olympics diplomacy

North Korean President Kim Jong Un said that the USA should be aware that his country’s nuclear forces are now a reality, it is North Korea’s security and not a threat to anyone.  Kim in fact struck a conciliatory tone in his New Year’s address, wishing success for the Winter Olympics set to begin in South Korea in February and suggesting the North may send a delegation to participate. “The Winter Olympic Games that will be held soon in the South will be a good opportunity to display the status of the Korean nation and we sincerely wish that the event will be held with good results,” he said.

Kim, wearing a Western-style gray suit and tie, said in his customary annual address that his country had achieved the historic feat of completing its nuclear forces and added that he has a nuclear button on his desk. “The USA should know that the button for nuclear weapons is on my table,” he said during the speech, as reported by The Associated Press. “The entire area of the US mainland is within our nuclear strike range.  The USA can never start a war against me and our country,” Kim said.

However, Kim called for improved relations with the South, an idea mentioned in speeches more often than it is met. He said the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics would be a good opportunity to showcase the status of the Korean nation. He also said the two Koreas could meet urgently to discuss the North sending a delegation.

The office of South Korea President Moon Jae-in said the successful hosting of the Pyeongchang Olympics would contribute to peace and harmony not only on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia, but in the entire world.

The New Year’s address is an annual event in North Korea and is watched closely for indications of the direction and priorities Kim may adopt in the year ahead. This year’s speech was seen as particularly important because of the high tensions over Pyongyang’s frequent missile launches and its nuclear test in 2017. The tests were the focus of fiery verbal exchanges between North Korea and President Donald Trump, who has derisively called Kim “little rocket man.” Kim also stressed North Korea’s economic achievements during the speech, and noted the importance of improving the nation’s standard of living.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned USA against any misadventure against his country or people. Pyongyang’s frequent missile launches in 2017, along with its sixth nuclear test, have ratcheted up tensions with the super power. The tests were the focus of fiery back-and-forth arguments between North Korea and President Donald Trump, who has called Kim “Little Rocket Man.” When asked for a response Sunday night, Trump said simply, “We’ll see, we’ll see.”

South Korea welcomed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s proposal to open a dialogue between the two nations in an effort to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula and discuss the possibility of sending North Korean athletes to the 2018 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, which will be held in Pyeongchang in February.”The successful launch of the games will contribute to stability not only on the Korean Peninsula but also in East Asia and the rest of the world.”

The South Korea spokesman emphasized that Moon is open to talks without preconditions but also pledged to work with other world leaders to address concerns about the North’s nuclear weapons program. The potential for diplomatic discussions between the North and South strongly contrasts with ongoing hostility between Kim and Trump to find the resolution to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula and bring peace.

The comments came in response to Kim’s annual New Year’s Day speech: “We sincerely hope that the South will successfully host the Olympics,” Kim said, while also expressing interest in sending athletes to the games next month. “We’re willing to take necessary steps including sending our delegation, and for this, the authorities from the North and South could urgently meet.” Beyond the upcoming athletic competition, “it’s about time that the North and the South sit down and seriously discuss how to improve inter-Korean relations by ourselves and dramatically open up,” Kim said. “Above all, we must ease the acute military tensions between the North and the South,” he concluded.

Desire and doubt

Alongside Kim’s expressed desire for diplomatic talks with Seoul, the North Korean leader reiterated his commitment to continuing his nation’s nuclear weapons program amid ongoing provocations from US dictator Donald Trump’s childish warning.

Yun Duk-min, a former chancellor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy, noted in an interview that talks between the North and South could complicate the US-South Korea alliance, and sustainable peace on a broader scale would be difficult to achieve without US cooperation because USA controls the world and regulates world politics and policies. .

Although US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has expressed a desire to engage in direct talks with North Korea, repeated statements from the White House—and the president himself—have consistently undermined such efforts by walking back Tillerson’s remarks and denouncing the potential for a diplomatic solution. Trump, like his Zionist ally Netanyahu, is not for world peace and he likes to accelerate terror wars and further strain relations with North Korea and Iran.

It is not easy win a fight against USA in any form. “After getting nowhere with the Americans, North Korea is now trying to start talks with South Korea first, and then use that as a channel to start dialogue with the USA.

With South Korea also participating in the international sanctions campaign, it’s not easy for Moon to come forward and accept it before North Korea shows sincerity with denuclearization. Inter-Korean relations will start to improve more fundamentally only if there’s a change in the US-North Korea dynamics”

A US ban on travel by Americans to North Korea comes into effect, a step announced after the death of a US student shortly after his release from a 15-year prison sentence in the country, where three other Americans are still detained.

US bombers drill

Meanwhile, South Korean and Japanese jets joined exercises with two supersonic US- B-1B bombers above and near the Korean peninsula on Thursday, two days after North Korea sharply raised tension by firing a missile over Japan. The drills, involving four US stealth F-35B jets as well as South Korean and Japanese fighter jets, came at the end of annual US-South Korea military exercises focused mainly on computer simulations. “North Korea’s actions are a threat to our allies, partners and homeland, and their destabilizing actions will be met accordingly,” justified General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy. “This complex mission clearly demonstrates our solidarity with our allies and underscores the broadening cooperation to defend against this common regional threat.”

North Korea has been working to develop a defensive nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the United States and has recently threatened to land missiles near the US Pacific territory of Guam.  North Korea, which sees the exercises as preparations for invasion, retaliated, raised the stakes in its stand-off with the USA and its allies by firing an intermediate-range missile over Japan. Its official news agency, KCNA, denounced the military drills in traditionally robust fashion, calling them “the rash act of those taken aback” by the missile test, which it described as “the first military operation in the Pacific.”

Donald Trump, who has warned that the US military is “locked and loaded” in case of North Korean provocation, reacted angrily to the latest missile test, declaring that “talking is not the answer” to resolving the crisis over North Korea’s weapons programs. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was quick to stress that a diplomatic solution remained possible, but he told reporters he agreed with Trump that Washington “should not be talking right now to a nation that is firing missiles over the top of Japan, an ally.”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders reiterated at a regular briefing that all options – diplomatic, economic and military – remained on the table. Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera spoke to Mattis by telephone and agreed to keep putting pressure on North Korea in a “visible” form, Japan’s defense ministry said. Japanese Prime Shinzo Abe said he and visiting British PM Theresa May agreed to urge China, North Korea’s lone major ally, to do more to rein in North Korea. May and Abe also discussed the possibility of adopting a new U.N. Security Council resolution on North Korea.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the situation on the peninsula was serious. “The current tense situation on the peninsula isn’t a screenplay or a video game,” she told reporters. “It’s real, and is an immense and serious issue that directly involves the safety of people from both the north and south of the peninsula, as well as peace and stability of the entire region.”

A close ally of both Russia and North Korea, China repeated a call on for restraint by all parties. China would never allow war or chaos on the Korean peninsula, its doorstep, and military means were not an option. China strongly demands all sides to exercise restraint and remain calm and not do anything to worsen tensions. Chinese forces were maintaining a normal state of alert along the North Korean border.

Japan has been urging Washington to propose new Security Council sanctions, which diplomats said could target North Korean laborers working abroad, oil supplies and textile exports. However, diplomats expect resistance from Russia and fellow veto-wielding power China, particularly given that new measures were only announced on Aug. 5 after North Korea tested its first two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July.

The 15-member UN Security Council did not mention about joint military exercises under US lead but condemned the firing of the missile over Japan as “outrageous” and demanded that North Korea halt its weapons programs. But the US-drafted statement did not threaten new sanctions.

The North and the South should no longer do anything that would aggravate the situation, and must exert efforts to ease military tensions and create a peaceful environment.

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Washington- Pyongyang: A third attempt?

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During a recent meeting with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in at the White House, US President Donald Trump said that while a step-by-step agreement with North Korea concerning that country’s nuclear program remained on the table, his administration was still focused on “the big deal.” Trump announced plans for his third meeting with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, but added that this would require “lengthy preparation.” The South Korean president likewise spoke about the need for the US and North Korean leaders meeting again shortly and underscored the need to maintain the current pace of negotiations.

The response from Pyongyang did not take too long in coming. In a keynote address on April 12 to the Supreme People’s Assembly in Pyongyang, which had earlier officially named him “the supreme representative of all Koreans,” Kim Jong-un said: “If the United States finds a solution acceptable to us, and proposes a meeting between the DPRK and US leaders, we are ready to agree to this once again. I won’t hesitate to sign an agreement, but only if it is written in a way that meets the interests of the DPRK and the United States, is fair and mutually acceptable.”

The April 12 session of the North Korean parliament was attended by a large delegation of the Russian State Duma deputies. Immediately after that, it became known that President Vladimir Putin would meet Kim later this month during a stopover in Vladivostok on his way to Beijing. The North Korean leader’s increasingly frequent political contacts with his Russian and Chinese counterparts reflect a desire to coordinate positions ahead of the next round of the US-North Korean talks.

Well, is there any reason for optimism about the outcome of the forthcoming parley? If so, then it must be extremely cautious. Indeed, in the span of  just a few months, Washington and Pyongyang have gone from general promises of denuclearization in exchange for security guarantees made during the June 2018 summit in Singapore, to a failed attempt to agree a roadmap for this process at the Hanoi summit in late February 2019.

Past experience shows that Washington’s attempts to make Pyongyang agree on everything at once were in principle doomed to failure for obvious political and technical reasons.

First off, it has been the factor of time. While Donald Trump hurried to clinch a “big deal” before his first term in office runs out (and not being sure about a second one), his North Korean counterpart was not interested in making this happen for exactly the same reason: as the most recent history shows, a new occupant of the White House often finds it easy to undo what his predecessor has achieved.

Equally obvious are technical reasons why there is no way to fast-track denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The deal on the Iranian nuclear program took years of negotiations and was the result of a mutual compromise (meaning that it is highly unlikely that a deal like this can be achieved in full, much less at once).

Under the present circumstances, any further US-North Korean negotiations would look like a walk across a minefield. If it were up to me, I would suggest the following way to go.

During the third Trump-Kim summit (which, if unsuccessful, will most likely be the last), to adopt a mutually accepted denuclearization roadmap that would say exactly which nuclear weapons and their delivery vehicles are to be eliminated, above all, those capable (albeit hypothetically) of reaching US territory.

The sides should also draw up an exhaustive list of facilities of North Korea’s nuclear (and, possibly, missile) programs that would be stopped or eliminated based on the principle of “proving the existence” there of nuclear  elements, rather than “proving their absence.” The latter verification path will take us nowhere because, to meet this requirement, Pyongyang would be forced to eliminate all of its engineering and other modern industries. In other words, to return to the pre-industrial era – something it will hardly ever agree to.

And, most importantly, there should be a compulsory and phased implementation of the stated goals. Pyongyang’s next move towards abandoning its nuclear technology should be accompanied by a partial and phased lifting of sanctions imposed on it by the UN Security Council, primarily those, which are damaging the peaceful sectors of the North Korean economy and are hampering the inter-Korean dialogue.

Each of these UN sanctions contains a concrete procedure for their suspension of lifting. At this stage the Security Council is already entering the game as all further negotiations on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula will depend on the agreed position of its permanent members (including the five officially recognized nuclear states).

Here it would be highly advisable to consider the proposal made by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev at a special session of the UN Security Council on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in January 2018, whereby the official five nuclear states could offer North Korea security guarantees within the framework of the UN Security Council as an important condition for creating an atmosphere of trust and ensuring successful progress towards denuclearization.

By the way, the third US-North Korean summit (if it happens at all) could be held in a trilateral format, as President Moon Jae-in has previously suggested. This would reduce the likelihood of yet another failure and would help ensure speedy security assurances for North Korea in exchange for the country’s nuclear disarmament.

First published in our partner International Affairs

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BRI: Shared Future for Humanity

Sabah Aslam

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The terrestrial and maritime connectivity proposed by the Chinese government back in 2013 with six connectivity corridors reflects the vision of shared future for humanity. Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is an omen of modern transformation of the globe. The journey of transition from geo-politics to geo-economics is itself a huge achievement. As geo-economics brought in the partnership and collaboration for mutual gains whereas geo-politics reflects competition, for instance, arm race.

BRI a network of terrestrial and maritime passages encompassing (1) the New Eurasian Land Bridge connects Western China to Western Russia; (2) the China-Mongolia-Russia Corridor, from Northern China to Eastern Russia; (3)the China-Central Asia-Western Asia Corridor, links China to Turkey; (4) the Corridor from Southern China to the Indochinese peninsula up to Singapore; (5) the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor; and (6) the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Corridor. In other words BRI is one of the longest connectivity route from the Chinese coast to Singapore to Gwadar up to the Mediterranean. Among all the above mentioned projects, CPEC is a model project with so much in its credit.

CPEC is the flagship project of the Belt & Road Initiative. CPEC is a mutually agreed initiative including 4 key areas of cooperation i.e. energy projects, infrastructure development, Gwadar Port, and industrial cooperation. This cooperation has further strengthened the time tested friendship. China – Pakistan strategic cooperation is an essential ingredient for the South Asian peace recipe. CPEC, not merely focus on commerce and trade but also include social development projects as well. Pak-China Friendship Hospital, Pak-China School, Gwadar Airport, and many more are prominent examples of this initiative. The first phase of CPEC is almost complete and is all ready to enter into the second phase. The first phase was comprised of energy and road projects whereas the second phase might also entails agriculture, education, health, water and much more. Here in our case, when there is an atmosphere of non-kinetic threats, development is the only option. Internal harmony and peace can only be achieved when there is no sense of deprivation. In addition, inclusion of third party in CPEC project, and also connecting it with the Central Asian Republics and Russia is also a progressive move. Opening it for the private business sector and creating 80,000 jobs, all are signs of social uplifting and gradual development. CPEC is an inclusive project for Pakistan and for the region.

China is focusing on and playing a key role in connecting the continents. Being an emerging power, China, considers the role of regional connections vital for the global peace and prosperity. Hence, BRI is a positive-sum cooperation. It’s a platform for dialogue, and developing new paths of cooperation encompassing government to government, people to people, business to business and media to media relations. BRI is the, opening up and connectivity, with an aim on promoting global peace and cooperation, and building a global community with a bright future for mankind. Moreover, it promotes connectivity through passages of commerce and trade. There is also a shift in the international balance, leaning towards east from west, considering it a breath of fresh air. Belt and Road Initiative is turning the myth “21st Century is the Asian Century” into reality.

BRI is a network of exchange, exchange of happiness and prosperity, exchange of knowledge and technology, exchange of expertise to perform well for mutual interests. It is the beginning of the inclusive global future. Hence, it is the time for profound change and reforms. For growth, for being dynamic, change is normal. So, reforms, propel states to accomplish goals not only at national level but international level too. The way BRI brought countries and regions together, enhancing trade, developing state of the art infrastructure, boosting investment, strengthening cultural ties, and people to people exchanges, all making BRI, the Central Nervous System of the world.

The true essence of BRI is regional integration, a horizontal, non-vertical integration with no hegemonic designs with an aim to limit the world recession damage. Furthermore, as the second BRI forum is scheduled in late April this year, there is much more to come. As mentioned, BRI is a pie, having share for all; it’s not a debt trap. In order to win the confidence of all the partnering states, and to lessen the suspicion, China is trying to avoid the ‘debt traps’. Though, there is no such state in unsustainable Chinese government debt pressure. It basically provides equality based cooperation, and a green & sustainable development. Second BRI forum is the right time to kickstart the “Second Phase” of Belt & Road. Many foreign heads of state and government, and thousands of delegates will be attending the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, or BRF.  As mentioned by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, “it will include a series of events, such as leaders’ round table, high-level meeting, and thematic forum, CEO conference, under the theme of Belt and Road cooperation shaping a brighter shared future. There will also be more side events, including 12 thematic forums focusing on practical cooperation, and for the first time a conference organized specifically for the business community”.

The globe has already been struck by two major economic depressions. Asian continent also faced one in 1997 when East and Southeast Asia was crippled economically. The world direly needs a remedy in order to sustain the global economy which can only be done through economic and cultural interconnectivity.BRI aims to be a torch bearer in order to bring the financial benefits to the globe. The global prosperity is need of an hour in modern world order but this can be achieved through collective efforts.

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China: Via Portugal into Africa and Latin America

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Portugal is a major geographical link in the European leg of China’s New Silk Road project (NSR). A visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Lisbon on December 4-5, 2018 produced seventeen cooperation agreements thereby reaffirming the two parties’ readiness to expand economic partnership.

China is Portugal’s top trading partner in Asia, with bilateral trade steadily on the rise amounting to $5.6 billion in 2017. The volume of Chinese investment in the Portuguese economy has reached $ 10.2 billion. Simultaneously, the influx of tourists from China to Portugal has gone up by 40% and from Portugal to China by 16%. The Chinese Embassy in Lisbon has described the current state of Sino-Portuguese relations as the best since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1979.

The livening up of Sino-Portuguese relations is key to Beijing’s comprehensive strategy of boosting cooperation with Portuguese-speaking countries. Adopted fifteen years ago, this strategy has brought about an increase in the volume of trade between the PRC and the Portuguese-speaking nations by more than 19 times – from $ 6 billion in 2002 to $ 117.6 billion in 2017.

In this context, an economic union with Lisbon is designed to geographically complete the European sector of the New Silk Road project (NSR) given the location of Portugal as the western tip of the European continent. Also, such an alliance is set to project Chinese economic influence through Portugal to countries of Africa and Latin America.

China is number one trading partner of three Portuguese-speaking countries: Brazil (trade turnover in 2018 at $ 29.5 billion), Angola ($ 26 billion) and Mozambique ($ 168 million).

The port of Sines – Portugal’s sea gate to the Atlantic and Africa – carries a particular importance with its well-developed infrastructure and all the facilities to be used as a transit point for Chinese products bound for America and Africa. Another important point is the Azores, a part of Portuguese territory stretching deep into the Atlantic. Lisbon has consented to Beijing’s participation in the construction of scientific and logistics infrastructure in the archipelago, which is tantamount to a stronger Chinese economic presence in the region.

Lisbon favors joint participation with Beijing in investment projects in Portuguese-speaking Africa. African countries have expressed a similar intention. In January 2019, the Angolan Parliament ruled to abolish double taxation with Portugal, China and the United Arab Emirates.

Lisbon-mediated cooperation with Portuguese-speaking countries will enable Beijing to guarantee food security. According to UN reports, Angola is among the top five countries with the greatest agricultural potential (58 million hectares of arable land), Mozambique has 36 million hectares, of which less than six are cultivated, while Brazil is the main supplier of soybean, a popular food product for China (14 million tons in 2018).

In relation to China and within the NSR project, Portugal plays the role of an infrastructure and logistics counterweight to France, which is trying to shift the focus of French-Chinese cooperation in the direction of the Mediterranean and North Africa – to fight against terrorism in the Sahel region and provide investment support of the French-speaking Sahel “Five” (Chad, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali).

Beijing is interested in moving via the Atlantic westward. From the geographical point of view, Portugal is a good partner here – cooperation with it takes China beyond the Mediterranean. According to the Chinese leader, for Beijing, Lisbon is a point of linking the land and sea segments of the NSR and a promising partner in the development of the “sea wave economy”.

The position of Paris regarding the NSR project is characterized as cautiously positive, envisaged by the Franco-German Aachen agreement of January 22, 2019 and affected by competition with Italy (Italian Trieste and French Marseille compete for the main port of the NSR in the Mediterranean).

The Aachen agreement diplomatically outlines the geopolitical axis Paris-Berlin, endowing the French-German relations with a special status. Against export-oriented German economy (in 2018, exports went up 3% against 2017, reaching $ 1.318 billion), Beijing’s economic activity in Europe is seen as a challenge.

Negotiations between French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission Chairman Jean-Claude Juncker and China’s Xi Jinping on March 25-26 demonstrated the EU’s consolidated position and marked a successful attempt to secure common gains from building up cooperation between the EU (without Italy) and the PRC.

While France readily signed multibillion-dollar contracts with China and agreed to the opening of the Chinese market for French goods, it refrained from actively assisting the Chinese in pursuing transcontinental infrastructure projects as unwelcome for the economic health of the Franco-German duumvirate.

 First published in our partner International Affairs

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