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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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East Asia

How China is helping Iran skirt US sanctions

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Shortly after the Trump administration reimposed sweeping sanctions on Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said eight countries, most notable China, would be exempted from the draconian sanctions on buying Iranian crude oil.

Shortly after the Trump administration reimposed sweeping sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an important announcement. It was a calculated move to avoid a major embarrassment. The hawks in the power corridors of Washington had anticipated the backlash of sanctions on US foreign policy with many global powers rebuffing Trump’s foolhardy move.

Pompeo said eight countries would be exempted from the draconian sanctions on buying Iranian crude oil due to special circumstances. The countries included China, India, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Turkey.

Many of these countries had quite clearly indicated that they would not be cutting oil imports from Iran under the US pressure, most importantly China, Turkey, and India – three of Iran’s largest oil customers.

While India has its own strategic interests in maintaining good relations with Tehran, for instance, the Chabahar port project in Sistan-Baluchistan, Turkey’s relations with Washington have hit a new low following sanctions and trade tariffs imposed by the US.

China, which has emerged as a viable counterweight to US hegemony in the world and a protagonist of new international economic policy, has unambiguously reaffirmed its commitment to keep alive the Iran nuclear deal and stand by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

On November 5, when the petroleum-related sanctions came into effect, Chinese foreign ministry said it will continue to “hold a fair, objective and responsible attitude” and “resolutely safeguard its legitimate rights”, while reiterating its opposition to the unilateral US sanctions.

“China feels sorry for the US’ decision and we noticed that the international world as a whole opposes the practice of such unilateral sanctions,” foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a press briefing.

She said Iran has been seriously fulfilling its obligations under the JCPOA and its efforts have been recognized by the International Atomic Energy Agency dozen times. She also affirmed that China will firmly safeguard its lawful rights while continuing to adhere to JCPOA and urged relevant parties to stand on the “right side of history”.

China has maintained that implementing the Iranian nuclear deal is akin to safeguarding the authority of UN Security Council, basic norms of international law, international non-proliferation treaty and peace and stability in the Middle East.

As one of the remaining signatories of the JCPOA, along with European Union countries who are exploring options to circumvent the US sanctions, Beijing wants to keep the deal alive. China, believe experts, is in a better position compared to other Asian countries as it is not subservient to US interests and is already embroiled in a bitter trade war with Washington.

For all parties of the JCPOA, Iranian crude oil is the main commodity of interest, particularly for Beijing. In 2017, one-third of Iran’s oil was supplied to China, which underlines the significance of oil trade between the two countries. China’s commitment to continue importing oil from Iran is very likely to deal a body blow to US ploy of reducing Iranian oil imports to zero and ‘starving’ the Iranian nation.

Hu Xijin, chief editor of the influential Chinese daily Global Times, told Tehran Times that there was no possibility of Washington reducing the Iranian oil exports to zero, “because Washington lacks righteousness to do so, therefore it can’t have the full support of the international community”.

To continue oil trade in different currencies other than dollar, Iran has been in talks with key allies, including China. On September 29, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Tehran would circumvent sanctions by conducting trade in all currencies to avoid using the US dollar. “You can use your own currency. Sell stuff in your own currency, buy stuff in the other country’s currency, and at the end of a specific period, balance it out in a non-dollar currency. It’s quite possible and may even be profitable,”

China, which is the largest oil importer in the world with around nine million barrels imports every day, has been making concerted efforts to reshape the global oil market with increased usage of its currency in oil trading. If Chinese currency manages to replace the US dollar, it will be a masterstroke.

US has been rendered friendless and isolated in its quest to tear up the Iran deal and force countries to cut oil imports from Iran. European Union has already refused to back down on the Iran deal, exploring ways to develop payment channels to facilitate payments related to Iran’s exports. The goal, according to a statement issued by EU, “is to protect the freedom of other economic operators to pursue legitimate business with Iran”.

Beijing has expressed its full support to the EU’s proposal to set up a “special payments system” to facilitate trade with Iran and safeguard the Iranian nuclear deal, which experts believe will significantly reduce reliance on the US dollar in the global oil trade. That will be a game-changer.

First published in our partner MNA

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The Implication of China’s Diplomacy in APEC and ASEAN

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It is truly unusual that the Chinese President Xi Jinping and its Premier Li Keqiang are visiting the same area during nearly the same time: Xi’s visit to APEC from15th to 21st November and Li’s visit to ASEAN on 15th November. Yet, if we look into China’s foreign policy towards this area over the past years since President Xi took power, it is not difficult to understand both Xi’s and Li’s official visits to the “larger Pacific” and the meaning beyond.

As we know, President Xi has reiterated that the Pacific is large enough for the countries involved to share the prosperity with each other. In order to achieve the inclusive rather than exclusive benefits for all, China’s diplomacy aims to reject any kind of unilateralism, trade protectionism and anti-globalization. Given this, Xi’s at APEC and Li’s at AEASN is defined as a signal of China’s diplomacy to further reform and bold openness.

As a rising great country, China is surely eager to expand its investment and trade with the south Pacific area, and Papua New Guinea (PNG) is the first country visited by Chinese president. What is more, PNG joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) early 2018 and then became the first state of Pacific islands to sign the MoU on “The Belt and Road Initiative” construction. As the theme “Harnessing Inclusive Opportunities, Embracing the Digital Future,” the APEC summit will focus on Regional economic integration, digital economy, connectivity, sustainable and inclusive growth and so forth.

Also during Premier Li’s visit to the ASEAN, he highlighted the necessity of the collaboration and mutual benefit among the countries involved on the 21st China-ASEAN leaders meeting. This is also the 21st ASEAN Plus Three Summit (10+3) and the 13th East Asia Summit (EAS).

Quite understandable, since the 1960s, the center of world economy has shifted from North Atlantic to Asia-Pacific, its dynamic growth in the region create countless jobs and push the development of world economy. This is the reason that Asia-Pacific region has the most trade agreements and the most complicated economic architecture around world. APEC and ASEAN, as two institutions that possess most member states, are the very pillars of the tumbledown regional economic architecture. APEC was launched by Australia and later included 21 member states in the region, amongst are United States, China, Japan, the economic giant three of the world economy. ASEAN is an institution that consist of ten small and middle states. Though they are not strong enough to meet the challenges from the power politics alone, ASEAN is a core force that firmly facilitate the economic integration of the whole region of East Asia and the Pacific. No matter what the way they embrace, they are the de facto basic regionalism of Asia-Pacific. The withdrawing of United States from Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and hard-achieved Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) once brought the regional economic architecture a fig leave and strengthened the impact of APEC and ASEAN.

As a result, the two visits of Chinese top leaders to the same region at the same time definitely attract worldwide attention, because they not only represent China’s recent diplomatic focus but also mark the fact that Asia-Pacific region has become one of the vital fields where China’s diplomacy will be actively conducting in terms of the Belt and Road Initiative, and carry on the good-neighbor policy. Since China has argued for creating a peaceful development milieu, to enhance economic transformation and upgrading oversea markets and partners in Asia-Pacific region.

Consider these facets, China, as the second largest economy, aims to promote its well-articulated stance on multilateralism and inclusiveness and globalization. As both President Xi and Premier Li have strongly said that China is ready to work with Pacific island countries to endeavor together and sail for a better future for bilateral relations. For the sake of that goal, China always believes that as long as all the countries involved have firm confidence in each other’s development, cooperation and the future of East Asia, and work closely together and forge ahead, all sides would achieve more and reach a higher level in the next 15 years.

For sure, China belongs to the part of a larger Asia-Pacific family, and the Chinese government defines its goal as the shared prosperity of this region. Therefore, China will continue to work hard and constructively to promote the overall development of impoverished but promising Pacific island countries under the Belt and Road Initiative.

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East Asia

An uncertain step in moving China-Japan relations

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Authors: Meshach Ampwera  & Luo Xinghuan

On October 26, Chinese President Xi Jinping met Japanese PM Shinzo Abe and praised that both China and Japan have pledged to strengthen bilateral ties amid continuous efforts made by the two nations. Xi said, “Bilateral relations have returned to the right track and gained positive momentum, which is something the two sides should cherish.” As the two largest economies in Asia, China and Japan are also the vital players in Asian security and the global development.

In addition, since this is the first official visit to China by a Japanese PM in a seven-year “Cold Peace” period, it is widely assumed that Abe’s visit symbolizes the resumption of high-level visits and will be followed by an increasing rapprochement between China and Japan. True, the leaders of the two economic giants witnessed a wide range of agreements, including a 30 billion US dollar worth of currency swap pact, the establishment of a maritime and air liaison mechanism, and enhancing people-to-people exchanges.

Yet, three factors have to be considered seriously in looking into Japanese foreign policy given the current changing geopolitical landscape regionally and globally. First, Japan has still regarded itself as a “defeated” state during the WWII. Since then, Japan’s postwar posture has frequently described as a new pacifism; yet in fact it is considerably more complex. As Henry Kissinger put it: “Japan had acquiesced in the U.S. predominance and followed the strategic landscape and the imperatives of Japan’s survival and long-term success.” This means that the governing elites in Tokyo used to hold the constitution drafted by U.S. occupying authorities with its stringent prohibition on military action, and adapted to their long-term strategic purposes. As a result, Japan was transformed from the pacific aspects of the postwar order (that prohibited military action) into a nation that has focused on other key elements of national strategy, particularly using economic leverage regionally and globally, though not uncontroversial.

Second, in a recently-released paper written by the former US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, he maintained that “Japan is a close ally of the U.S. and a rising military power, too, because of legal and constitutional changes of great significance championed by Prime Minister Abe.” In practice, the Japanese administration has engineered an expansion to enable its military to operate regionally and even globally in response to the rise of China, violent extremist activity in Asia, and the alleged North Korean belligerence.

Actually in 2013, Japanese Government White Paper revealed a desire to become a “normal country” with an active alliance policy. In a searching for a new role in the Asia-pacific region, Japan aims to act as an “anchor” of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) concluded in 2018 after the withdrawal of the United States. Now it involves 11 countries and representing 13.4% of global GDP ($ 13.5tri.). As the largest economy of the CPTPP, Japan has been active in moving it forward. Early this year when the British government stated it is exploring becoming a member of the CPTPP to stimulate exports after Brexit in 2019, Abe stated that the United Kingdom would be welcomed to join the partnership. It is said that even the U.S. reconsiders possibly rejoining the CPTPP if it were a “substantially new deal” for the United States.

Japan’s ardent involvement into the US-led strategy in Asia has also been endorsed to expand steadily as a normal power regionally and globally. For example, the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) is the result of the joint declaration issued by the India and Japan in 2016. Although it is premised on four pillars of development and cooperation, it is self-evident that the AAGC reflects a growing special “strategic and global partnership between India and Japan” in which both sides have viewed China’s growing, pragmatic and successful presence in Africa as a menace. There is no question that AAGC is a well-crafted vision and agenda of both India and Japan, linking with their own development priorities. But with increasing pressure from Washington and Brussels, Japan and India are in effect driven by the option for the AAGC to rebalance China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

From the inception of the BRI, they have more than ever before been concerned with being isolated in Africa by Beijing’s initiative. But, as Ampwera Meshach, a researcher at Jilin University put it, “Africa is on the growth trend and offers potential markets and raw materials. For this reason, Africa largely needs pragmatic and scientific, technological and development- oriented initiatives and these are clearly reflected in China’s BRI.” In light of this, the AAGC does neither reflect a novel nor pragmatic approach on how it fits within the African agenda. Instead, AAGC’s foundational pillars seem more inclined to the Western cooperation approaches that have for decades not been translated into development.

Controversially, two days before Abe’s visit to Beijing, Japan had decided to scrap official development assistance (ODA) to China, which is a program where Japan provides aids to developing countries starting back in 1954. Even though some people argue that Japan’s ODA is reasonably cancelled because China’s GDP is even 2.5 times larger than that of Japan, yet, it is necessary for Chinese to be aware of the reality that Japan is a longstanding ally of the United States. As Japan has long been an economic power, its impressive military capabilities would not be confined to a strict policy of territorial defense—no projection of Japanese power or the U.S.-Japan alliance to the region as a whole.

It is during the Abe’s administration which has recognized an environment of growing Chinese assertiveness, violent extremist activity in Asia, and North Korean hostility, and therefore, Japan has eagerly participated in Asian security, including training and exercising with other nations, beyond a purely passive, home-island defense role. This makes it an increasingly important player serving the US strategy in Asia but challenging the rise of China globally.

It is true that Abe tweeted about the trip — while recognizing the challenges in moving bilateral relations forward, he said that he would still work to “push Sino-Japan relations to the next level”. Given the two countries’ economic links, it is only understandable that there is a need for the two sides to come closer. Moreover, Japanese businesses has been an extremely active force behind the government’s shift of attitude on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Yet, all in all, we should never ignore that Japan’s ambitious foreign policy has gone beyond the economic goal.

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