Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

Korea tensions soar as deadly attack launched [The Age]

‘Zhang Liangui, a North Korea expert at Beijing’s Central Party School, told The Age that Kim Jong-un, 26-year-old son of dictator Kim Jong-il and his anointed successor, was deliberately destabilising his environment to mobilise the military and consolidate his power. There have been previous skirmishes along the border but the stakes are getting higher.’ The US have stated they will stand firmly by South Korea, whilst China, North Korea’s only ally, is urging peace. Could it be that North Korea’s new regime pays little heed to China’s desire for a stable region?

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Korea tensions soar as deadly attack launched
John Garnaut, Beijing
Source – The Age, published November 24, 2010

Smoke billows from Yeonpyeong island near the border with North Korea. Photo: AP

NORTH Korea’s young dictator-in-waiting has burnished his leadership credentials by launching a deadly artillery raid on South Korean territory, causing Seoul to scramble F16 jet fighters and return fire.

Two South Korean marines were killed and at least 15 people were wounded as shells rained down on Yeonpyeong island, off the north-west coast of South Korea.

Hundreds of terrified residents huddled in bunkers or fled by boat as buildings and trees went up in flames and smoke billowed above the island. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Influence, International Relations, military, North Korea, Politics, Sinking of South Korean Warship Cheonan 2010, South Korea, The Age

China makes its North Korea move [Asia Times]

An excellent insight into the China / North Korea differences from the Asia Times.

– – –

China makes its North Korea move
By Peter Lee
Source – Asia Times, published September 3, 2010

The Barack Obama administration’s policy of “strategic reassurance” vis-a-vis China appears to be yielding its first fruits – the profoundly unreassuring image of President Hu Jintao clasping Kim Jong-il’s hand in Changchun and, very probably, heralding the survival of the sclerotic North Korean regime into its third generation.

This denouement should not have been unexpected as a riposte to the joint United States-South Korean strategy of responding to the Cheonan sinking in March with heightened rhetoric, referral of the issue to the United Nations, and a show of military force in Northeast Asian waters – all designed to challenge China’s role as acknowledged stakeholder in matters of the peninsula.

China and North Korea set aside their many differences and presented a united front to the world on the future of the peninsula, effectively repudiating the US and South Korean formula of reunification in favor of the continued division of Korea. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Asia Times Online, Beijing Consensus, Culture, Greater China, Influence, International Relations, North Korea, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Sinking of South Korean Warship Cheonan 2010, Strategy

Chinese actors to cheer for North Korea during World Cup [Telegraph]

This article should put some perspective into China’s relationship with North Korea, it should provide additional scaffolding to analysing China’s reactions of North Korea allegedly sinking the South Korean warship Cheonan.

Mao Tsetung once said: ‘The Chinese and the North Korean are as close as lips and teeth’,” Nick Bonner, documentary maker on North Korea’s 1966 World Cup exploits.

– – –

Chinese actors to cheer for North Korea during World Cup
Chinese actors and musicians are going to the World Cup to cheer for North Korea, after China itself failed to qualify for the tournament.
By Malcolm Moore in Shanghai
Source – The Telegraph, published May 13, 2010

Since virtually no one in North Korea can afford to travel to South Africa the North Korean Sports Committee has begun to give out tickets to Chinese fans Photo: EPA

The North Korean team has qualified for the World Cup for only the second time, and is hoping to replicate the surprise it sprang on the 1966 tournament in England when its team knocked out Italy and reached the quarter finals.

This time, however, the North Koreans have been drawn into a ‘group of death’ alongside Brazil, Portugal and the Ivory Coast, and the country’s leaders have appealed for support.

Since virtually no one in North Korea can afford to travel to South Africa, or obtain a visa, the Beijing office of the North Korean Sports Committee has begun to give out tickets to Chinese fans.

So far, a group of around 1,000 Chinese fans, including a group of actors and musicians who have been sent to cheer China in previous World Cup tournaments, will attend the games against Brazil and Portugal to cheer on their North Korean cousins, according to Xinhua, the government-run news agency.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Influence, International Relations, North Korea, Politics, Sinking of South Korean Warship Cheonan 2010, Telegraph UK

N.Korea seeks to soothe China [AsiaOne]

North Korea’s relationship with China is surely under strain, this compounded by the sinking of South Korean warship Cheonan is not going to make it easy to remain friends on the surface between the two long-time partners.

– – –

N.Korea seeks to soothe China
Reuters
Source – Straits Times, published June 10, 2010

BEIJING – NORTH Korea has told China it will punish those responsible for shooting dead three Chinese nationals near the two countries’ border last week, and vowed to prevent any repeat, Chinese state media said on Thursday.

The isolated North made the effort to soothe China, its sole major economic and political supporter, after North Korean border guards last week shot at the Chinese nationals crossing the river border near the northeast Chinese city of Dandong.

Three were killed and a fourth was wounded. On Tuesday, China’s Foreign Ministry made a rare public complaint about its neighbour, and now North Korea appears to be seeking to placate Beijing.

North Korean border authorities said an initial investigation showed the incident was an ‘accident’, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported.

‘The North Korean side expressed its grief over the Chinese deaths, and offered condolences to the families of the dead and to the injured, and will severely punish the perpetrators,’said the report.

‘The North Korean border security authorities will further investigate this incident and prevent such incidents from recurring,’ the report added. — REUTERS

Filed under: AsiaOne, International Relations, North Korea, Public Diplomacy, Sinking of South Korean Warship Cheonan 2010, Strategy

China rebuffs US criticism [AsiaOne]

China rebuffs US criticism
AP
Source – Straits Times, published June 10, 2010

BEIJING – CHINA said on Thursday it has taken a ‘fair and responsible’ attitude in dealing with North Korea’s alleged attack on a South Korean warship, batting aside criticism by a top US military official that Beijing hasn’t done enough.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said China’s goal has been ‘to safeguard peace and stability’ on the Korean peninsula. ‘All that we have done is based on this position, so we hope that all parties can understand that and cooperate with China to properly deal with this issue,’ he told a regularly scheduled news conference.

Mr Qin was speaking a day after Adm Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he was disappointed by the international community’s ‘tepid’ response to the North Korean attack in March on a South Korean warship, singling out China for not doing more.

Adm Mullen made his comments in Washington DC at a dinner hosted by the Asia Society.

South Korea has asked the UN Security Council to punish North Korea after an international investigation found that a North Korean torpedo sank a South Korean navy ship in March, killing 46 sailors. Pyongyang has denied responsibility and says any punishment will trigger war.

The US and South Korea have been looking to China to approve some kind of international condemnation or punishment of the North. — AP

Filed under: AsiaOne, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Influence, International Relations, Media, North Korea, Sinking of South Korean Warship Cheonan 2010, Strategy

China to be “impartial” on S. Korean warship sinking: premier [Xinhua]

The latest – Premier Wen Jiabao in an interview in Japan’s NHK announces yet again that China will be impartial in their assessment of the sinking of South Korean warship Cheonan. This is amidst a period when China is moving to strengthen ties with South Korea – further reading: ‘China, South Korea to Deepen Ties Amid North Tension‘ (Businessweek, May 29, 2010). It is in China’s strategic interests to keep the peace in the Korean Peninsula. China has too many borders and peripheries to be concerned about, an escalation to war within these two potentially powerful nations with nuclear capabilities will absolutely clash with its mantra of keeping the peace and setting conditions for continued economic prosperity.

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China to be “impartial” on S. Korean warship sinking: premier
Source – Xinhua, published June 2, 2010

TOKYO, June 1 (Xinhua) — Visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Tuesday reiterated China’s pledge to take an “impartial” stand on the sinking of a South Korean warship.

“The sinking of the warship Cheonan is an unfortunate incident,” Wen said during an interview with Japanese public broadcaster NHK. “We have offered condolences to the victims on many occasions.”

What China has in mind in approaching the incident, in which 46 South Korean sailors died after their warship sank in March, is maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, he said.

China attaches importance to the joint investigation conducted by South Korea and other countries and the reactions of various parties, and will take its position on the basis of truth and facts, he added.

China appealed for calm on the part of the concerned parties so as to avoid a further escalation of tension and even conflict, he said.

The Chinese premier said China understands the current difficult situation President Lee Myung-bak and the South Korean government are facing.

China will seek information from various sources and seriously study it before making clear its stand in “a fair and objective manner,” he said.

“We will adopt an impartial position,” he said. China also maintains that any approach on it must serve the fundamental interest of maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, he added.

Wen said Japan is an important country in Northeast Asia and a close neighbor of China and South Korea. China is ready to cooperate with Japan on such issues as safeguarding security in Northeast Asia, he added.

Japan is the second leg of Wen’s four-nation Asian tour, which has already taken him to South Korea. He will also visit Mongolia and Myanmar.

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Greater China, Influence, International Relations, Media, Politics, Sinking of South Korean Warship Cheonan 2010, Strategy

China faces pressure to act over North Korea at summit [BBC]

With China promising not to protect ‘whoever sunk the South Korean warship’, it will be interesting to see how North Korea will react when it is forced into a corner, this is highly delicate. North Korea has few friends, let alone allies who are major powerbrokers.

China making such an announcement at a summit with Japan (who already have a highly stringent approach to North Korea) and South Korea (who have been at war with the North since 1953) will surely not be taken well by the Pyongyang, but choice do the Chinese have with their new role as a newly minted global stakeholder that has promised to abide by the rules of the status quo?

Their actions will be in the spotlight, this will be a stern test for the Chinese leaders. Friendship and camaraderie is something the Chinese take seriously, how are they to turn their backs on their ally? Whether they are enlightened enough to ride on this wave and display benevolence and tact all at once will make for an interesting spectacle.

– – –

China faces pressure to act over North Korea at summit
Source – BBC, published May 29, 2010

South Korea wants China to increase pressure on its old ally North Korea. Photo - BBC

China is to face renewed pressure from South Korea to censure North Korea over the sinking of one of the South’s warships, amid rising tensions.

Seoul is hosting a three-way summit with China and Japan as it steps up its diplomatic efforts over what it says was a torpedo attack by the North.

Beijing has so far refused to condemn North Korea, but has said it would assess the evidence objectively.

Pyongyang has fiercely denied the allegations.

South Korea says an investigation involving international teams uncovered indisputable evidence that North Korea fired a torpedo at the ship.

It has announced a package of measures, including a halt to most trade with North Korea, and is also seeking action via the United Nations Security Council.

If such action is to succeed, China’s support is crucial.

Under pressure
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has already held bilateral discussions with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.

Speaking on Friday, Mr Wen said China “will not protect” whoever sank the warship.

Beijing is under pressure to take a strong stance against North Korea but so far has not accepted the findings of the independent investigation.

Mr Wen said that China would take its position after “objectively and fairly judging” the evidence while “respecting the international probe and responses to it by each nation”.

Early on Saturday, on his way to the summit, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama paid his respects at the graves of the 46 sailors who were killed in the explosion.

The BBC’s John Sudworth in Seoul says the gesture was a demonstration of solidarity with South Korea and its conclusion that the ship was attacked by North Korea.

Japan has already said it is tightening its stringent sanctions against North Korea.

The three leaders will hold two days of talks on the South Korean resort island of Jeju.

Illustration – BBC

North and South Korea are technically still at war after the Korean conflict ended without a peace treaty in 1953.

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Communications, Foreign aid, International Relations, Media, North Korea, Public Diplomacy, Sinking of South Korean Warship Cheonan 2010, Strategy

China ‘won’t protect anyone’ [Straits Times]

This might be off-topic, but amidst all the political implications and security concerns on the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan has yielded much controversy on how it was sunk. Here are a few takes on the matter:

Here is a New Scientist report ‘Deadly bubble jet sank South Korea’s warship (20 May 2010) on how the warship was sunk. A report from Bloomberg’s Businessweek purport that the ‘South Korean Ship [was] Likely Sunk by External Explosion (April 16, 2010)’.

Perhaps more controversially, here is an open letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by a Korean maritime engineer that reveals there was no explosion and no torpedo, that the ship had simply run aground. Check it out here – Letter to Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of state (May 26, 2010), it has plenty of photos that seem to substantiate its case.

The Center for Research on Globalization also offers an analysis here, bringing up the poignant political implications – ‘Who Sank the South Korean Warship Cheonan? Destabilization of the Korean Peninsula‘ (May 27, 2010)

– – –

China ‘won’t protect anyone’
Pyongyang not named, but Wen’s remarks seen as a shift in position
AFP
Source – Straits Times, published May 29, 2010

Mr Wen's three-day visit to Seoul comes at a time of intense diplomatic pressure on Beijing to take sides in a deepening standoff between the two Koreas over the sinking of the Cheonan on March 26. -- PHOTO: AFP


SEOUL – CHINA will not protect those who sank a South Korean warship, Premier Wen Jiabao was quoted saying Friday, as he came under pressure in Seoul to join an international push to punish North Korea.

Japan slapped new sanctions on the North over the March 26 sinking, which international investigators say was caused by a North Korean torpedo, and left 46 sailors dead.

Regional tensions have risen sharply since they announced the findings of their investigation last week, with South Korea announcing reprisals that have sparked threats of war from the North. Wen made the comments at a meeting with South Korean President Lee Myung Bak, according to Mr Lee’s spokesman.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Communications, Foreign aid, International Relations, Media, North Korea, Public Diplomacy, Sinking of South Korean Warship Cheonan 2010, Straits Times, Strategy

Face facts, Clinton tells China [The Age]

Face facts, Clinton tells China
MATTHEW LEE, SHANGHAI
Source – The Age, published May 23, 2010

FACING an uphill diplomatic struggle to win China’s support for penalising its ally North Korea over the sinking of a South Korean warship, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday highlighted the benefits of US-Chinese co-operation at the World Expo in Shanghai.

Her visit to the expo on the banks of the Huangpu River marked a respite from an intense three-nation journey to Asia that took her to Japan on Friday and will see her move to Beijing today and then to the South Korean capital, Seoul, on Wednesday.

At each stop on the way, the crisis over the ship incident is expected to dominate her agenda but nowhere more than in Beijing where she and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner are leading a delegation of nearly 200 US officials for talks intended to improve economic and strategic relations.

That second round of the so-called Strategic and Economic Dialogue was supposed to be the main thrust of her Asia trip, but with last week’s report blaming Pyongyang for sinking the South Korean vessel, her main task in Beijing will now be to try to persuade China to support UN Security Council action against North Korea. China, North Korea’s primary ally and financial supporter has thus far remained neutral on the conclusions of the report that found Pyongyang responsible for firing a torpedo that sank the South Korean ship Cheonan in March, killing 46 sailors.

The UN Command’s Military Armistice Commission, which oversees the 1953 Korean War truce agreement, yesterday launched an independent investigation of the Cheonan’s sinking.

Representatives from Britain, Canada, Australia, the US, France, New Zealand, South Korea, Turkey and Denmark will review the findings of the multinational investigation and determine the scope of North Korea’s armistice violation, a UN spokesman said.

US officials travelling with Mrs Clinton said she would try to persuade the Chinese to ”acknowledge the reality” of what happened and support measures that would help persuade the North to change its behaviour.

A senior US official told reporters Mrs Clinton would ”try to make a powerful case about why this is an extraordinarily serious matter and why we want the strong co-operation from China”.

”We’d like to see them acknowledge the reality of what happened and then join with South Korea, Japan and us in helping to fashion a response that helps to change North Korean behaviour,” the official said.

Speaking in Japan on Friday, Mrs Clinton made it clear the Obama administration wanted the UN to take action against North Korea.

”Let me be clear. This will not be, and cannot be, business as usual,” Mrs Clinton said. ”There must be an international – not just a regional, but an international – response.”

Yesterday, however, Mrs Clinton adopted a low-key approach, but made clear she hoped the World Expo, in particular the popular US pavilion, would create greater understanding and goodwill ties between Washington and Beijing as well as the Chinese and American people.

”I will carry with me many positive feelings when I leave Shanghai tomorrow to go to Beijing,” she told the local Communist Party chief after visiting the Chinese pavilion. ”We think government-to-government relations are very important but we believe people-to-people relations between the Chinese and American people are the most important foundation for a very positive future between our two countries.”

AP, LOS ANGELES TIMES

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Chinese overseas, Influence, International Relations, North Korea, Politics, Shanghai World Expo, Sinking of South Korean Warship Cheonan 2010, Strategic Economic Dialogue, The Age, U.S.

China may back sanctions [against North Korea] [Straits Times]

This will be interesting as China is North Korea’s sole major ally – China is increasingly becoming a global voice of reason and leadership, and if China lets this one off the hook, China’s credibility and projection of soft power will be severely undermined.

‘If all evidence points to a North Korean provocation, this will have a big impact on China, and force China to reconsider how it views North Korea,’ Zhu Feng, the director of the International Security Programme at Peking University

– – –

China may back sanctions [against North Korea]
AFP
Source – Straits Times, published May 21, 2010

BEIJING – CHINA, North Korea’s sole major ally, could support new sanctions against Pyongyang over the sinking of a South Korean warship but wants above all to safeguard regional stability, analysts say.

China, which plans to make its own ‘assessment’ of an international probe which concluded a North Korean submarine torpedoed the Cheonan in March, does not want to risk international isolation on Kim Jong-Il’s behalf, they say.

But Beijing’s support for crippling sanctions could be tempered by its fears of an influx of refugees across its common border with the North should Kim’s impoverished state crumble under the weight of punitive measures, they say.

Zhu Feng, the director of the International Security Programme at Peking University, said the Cheonan incident could push Beijing to rethink its close ties with Pyongyang, exemplified by Mr Kim’s visit to China earlier this month. ‘If all evidence points to a North Korean provocation, this will have a big impact on China, and force China to reconsider how it views North Korea,’ Mr Zhu told AFP.

‘If the UN Security Council discusses this report, to bring sanctions against North Korea, I think China will support it.’ Nicholas Szechenyi, an analyst at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, agreed, but said China was still wary that a new round of UN sanctions would lead to a mass exodus from a devastated North. ‘China’s biggest interest is maintaining stability on the peninsula,’ Mr Szechenyi told AFP.

Beijing is Pyongyang’s staunchest ally, and provides the poverty-stricken country with most of its food and fuel. It is widely seen as the only nation with any sway over Mr Kim’s hardline regime. But that prime position of influence could put Beijing in a difficult spot, analysts say. — AFP

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Greater China, Influence, International Relations, North Korea, Sinking of South Korean Warship Cheonan 2010, Soft Power

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