South Korean President Park Geun-hye may have avoided walking into a potential minefield in postponing her recent Washington visit due to the MERS outbreak in her home country. Following the highly successful Washington visit of Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, there is a growing sense of “Korea fatigue” among American policymakers – a narrative being vigorously promoted by the Japan lobby. And with even Tokyo’s regional rival, Chinese President Xi Jinping, relenting enough on history issues to meet twice with Mr. Abe, President Park’s continued avoidance of ally Abe is being denigrated by some as not befitting a true alliance “team player.” Thus the current scramble in Seoul to convey the message that South Korea is moving forward with strategic issues of vital importance, such as cooperation on the North Korean nuclear threat. And there was President Park’s own recent comment in a Washington Post interview regarding “considerable progress” with Tokyo on the historically contentious comfort women issue (a view not necessarily shared by Japanese negotiators.)
South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se recently made the first visit to Tokyo by a foreign minister of his country since 2011 in order to attend a June 22nd ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the South Korea-Japan normalization treaty. In an interview with the South Korean wire service Yonhapupon his return to Seoul, Yun stated that, "We can say that there is certainly a difference before and after this week in terms of the will for improved bilateral relations."
Yet history will rear its ugly head repeatedly this summer threatening to upset the proverbial applecart. First, there will be the June 28-29 meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Bonn where committee members will consider Tokyo’s controversial bid to have Meiji-era industrial sites registered without mentioning the POW, Korean, and Chinese slave labor that was utilized at a number of them. Then there will be Prime Minister Abe’s statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of the Pacific War in August. A number of questions surround this statement: Will it be official or private? And will Abe repeat former Prime Minister Murayama’s wording in 1995 that Imperial Japan, “through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations.”
Further, it is even possible that Abe, having determined that he satisfied the Americans and Australians with his past parliamentary remarks, will decide to again visit the Yasukuni Shrine to honor his maternal grandfather and others from the Tojo war cabinet. The visit of Mrs. Abe to Yasukuni soon after her return from Washington this spring could be seen as a testing of the waters. Washington’s muted response over “just another Japanese housewife’s” visit to the controversial war shrine could be taken as a green light (many American political leaders demonstrate the same tone deafness to Yasukuni’s historic symbolism as they displayed until recently with regard to the Confederate flag.) Finally, there will be Xi Jinping’s VJ Day parade in Beijing in September, which South Korean President Park may well attend. This event will likely be more about chauvinistically displaying Beijing’s military muscle than about commemorating the end of the Second World War.
South Korea and its president, involved in a series of diplomatic pirouettes, are caught smack dab in the middle between what is perceived as a disengaging American ally and a rising China. Certainly on the economic side, Seoul knows full well where its bread is buttered. The Wall Street Journal, for example, reported on March 24th that Seoul agonized over the “diplomatic circumstances” involved in its decision to become a founding member of Beijing’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) against Washington’s wishes. The fact is that money talks and that at present 25 percent of South Korean exports go to China and only 12 percent go to the United States. Seoul’s Joongang Ilbo newspaper said that South Korea’s decision to follow along with other European allies of the U.S. and Pacific ally Australia in signing up for AIIB was “a no-brainer.” Interestingly, Tokyo stuck with its American ally in isolation from the 57 AIIB founding members although it did not rule out the possibility of eventually signing up.
China’s foreign aid programs are distinguished by size (much larger than those of other countries), breadth (encompassing 92 emerging-market countries in six geographic regions), and composition (focused on mining and exports of natural resources and supporting infrastructure).
President Obama met with China’s Special Representatives to the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue and Consultation on People-to-People Exchange earlier today, according to the White House. A topic of discussion? America's cyber concerns.
Obama even "urged China to take concrete steps to lower tensions," according to a White House readout of the meeting.
Earlier this month, the G7 met in Bavaria; its seven members are the major European and North American economies, plus Japan. The G7 is the successor to the G8—Vladimir Putin’s Russia has been suspended, having invaded and annexed parts of Ukraine, and now actively making mischief on NATO’s Baltic border. ISIS, meanwhile, is murdering its way through the Middle East, and China is building islands in international waters. So the G7 had quite a full plate; nonetheless, they found time to issue a declaration on climate change.
In at least one respect, visiting China is a little bit like traveling back in time to America in, say, 1957. (Or so I gather.) That is, people routinely smoke cigarettes in shopping malls, elevators, lines, apartment building hallways, schools, and yes, even hospitals. (Oh, and of course bars and restaurants.) Thus, the news that Beijing has just imposed a strict smoking ban in indoor public spaces in the city is a little bit surprising.
Warning against the threat from China has been a staple of national security literature since at least the late 1990s. This genre typically begins by compiling a list of the most alarming statistics related to China’s economic potential, military advancements, and global misdeeds—environmental degradation, cyberattacks, support for rogue regimes, and human rights abuses, to name a few—before informing readers that the United States must act now before it is too late.
At the top of our next president’s task list will be rescuing American foreign policy from the wreckage of the Obama years. The prevailing headlines detail a grim litany of new threats, each one emanating from an Obama administration policy failure.
It is not certain that Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known as Lenin, actually said, “The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them,” but if he didn’t, he certainly thought it, and if still around would like to claim that prophesy as his own. IBM has announced plans “to help a little-known Chinese company (Teamsun) absorb and build upon key technologies” that IBM licenses, according to the New York Times.
Growing up blind and poor in rural China, Chen Guangcheng had few prospects. Yet before he turned 40, Chen was one of China’s most famous human rights activists, known around the world after he became the subject of a dramatic standoff between the American and Chinese governments.
In January, Sri Lanka’s voters kicked out President Mahinda Rajapaksa for being corrupt, repressive, and too close to China. The country’s new government, led by President Maithripala Sirisena, promptly drew attention and not a little admiration for halting a Chinese-led
A top intelligence official under President Obama, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, says that the chances Hillary Clinton's private emails were hacked is "very high." Flynn, who ran the Defense Intelligence Agency but is now retired, called it hackings "likely."
Flynn made the comments to Megyn Kelly last night on Fox News:
The Chinese have come up with a new strategy for controlling vital sea lanes. Build islands and then put bases on them. They have, according to U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Harry Harris, built "a 'great wall of sand' in contested waters near its shores … pumping sand onto live coral reefs — some of them submerged — and paving over them with concrete … [creating] over 4 square kilometers of artificial landmass.”
If you harbor any doubts that “conservative” is an all-purpose epithet in the press, then Simon Denyer, the Washington Post’s China bureau chief, will happily erase those doubts. Writing last week about threats to freedom of speech and scholarly inquiry in the former British colony of Hong Kong (“In Hong Kong, fears of Chinese restrictions on academic freedom grow,” March 15), he made it clear where the problem lies: It’s the People’s Republic of China “and its conserv-ative backers in Hong Kong” who want to censor speech and shut down academic freedom.