Posts Tagged ‘Chinese Foreign Minister’

New North Korea Sanctions Are in a Race With Pyongyang’s Missile Development

August 7, 2017

U.N. Security Council action aims to close loopholes, but many Asian nations have ties to Pyongyang

Image may contain: 2 people, suit

© POOL/AFP | US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi supported a tough stance on Pyongyang’s arsenal


Updated Aug. 6, 2017 9:42 p.m. ET

MANILA—The United Nations Security Council passed the toughest-ever economic sanctions against North Korea over the weekend. Now comes the hard part: making them stick, and fast.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met here Sunday with counterparts from China, Russia, and a host of Asian countries as he sought to build momentum to isolate North Korea. He described the sanctions as “a good outcome.”


Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who met Sunday in Manila with his North Korean counterpart, said Beijing has urged Pyongyang “to stop the missile tests and even nuclear research which violate U.N. Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the international community.”

There is one major obstacle, however: Time is running out. The most recent missile launched by the regime at the end of July would be able to fly more than 6,400 miles, according to one analysis, putting Los Angeles, Denver and Chicago within range. Some experts believe North Korea could develop a nuclear missile capable of handling atmospheric re-entry as early as next year.

“The problem with sanctions alone is that we don’t have that kind of time,” said Leon Sigal, director of the New York-based Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project, pointing to lags between when sanctions are implemented and enforced and when the economic effects are felt. “They’re very close to an ICBM.”

The Security Council has passed eight rounds of sanctions since 2006, when North Korea performed its first nuclear test. The sanctions hurt the secretive regime economically but failed to deter Pyongyang from working to become a nuclear power.

The latest sanctions, passed unanimously with the support of China, North Korea’s biggest economic partner, are meant to close loopholes around the world that have allowed the rogue regime to cultivate trade, financing and labor ties to support its nuclear programs.

China in a statement Sunday called the sanctions necessary. Beijing accounts for 90% of the North Korean regime’s trade, according to various estimates.

In the meeting with China on Sunday, North Korea’s foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, restated Pyongyang’s position on nuclear policy, said Mr. Wang, the Chinese foreign minister, without elaborating. North Korea has previously refused to disarm, arguing that its nuclear capability is a deterrent to protect it from foreign aggression.

North Korean officials were unavailable for comment. Mr. Ri will have a chance to speak Monday to the 27 members of the Asean Regional Forum gathered in Manila for the security meetings.

R.C. Hammond, Tillerson’s communications adviser, told reporters that the Chinese meeting made clear to the North Koreans “what they need to do to demonstrate to the world they understand and would like to discuss a new role for North Korea in the global community.”

The new sanctions ban trade in coal with North Korea and bar countries from employing North Korean laborers and entering into joint ventures with Pyongyang. U.S. officials say the sanctions could cut a third, or $1 billion, from North Korea’s foreign revenue.

“I think the efforts to isolate [North Korea] are already working, even with the previous sanctions in place. The problem is that they have not brought the ‘desired effect’ — which should be progress in the denuclearization,” said Oh Joon, a professor at Kyung Hee University in Seoul and a former South Korean ambassador to the U.N.

The U.S. faces resistance in Asia, where countries have business ties with North Korea dating back decades and experts say that many companies and individuals profit from hard-to-detect financing of trade. The biggest challenge is China, experts say, which hasn’t fully enforced past sanctions, chiefly because it is concerned that if the Pyongyang regime collapses a conflict could draw U.S. troops near the Chinese border or send droves of North Korean refugees across its border.

China has said in the past it complies fully with U.N. sanctions on North Korea but opposes U.S. unilateral sanctions.

China’s trade with North Korea rose 10.5% in the first half of this year as part of its normal economic relationship not covered by sanctions, Chinese trade data show.

“Beijing’s reluctance to implement U.N. sanctions is further enabling Pyongyang to sprint down the weapons path,” said Duyeon Kim, a visiting senior fellow at the Korean Peninsula Future Forum in Seoul. “China knows it can squeeze the North enough without the collapse that it fears, but Beijing chooses not to because of its own strategic interests.”

U.S. presidents have implored China to crack down on North Korea. Former President Barack Obama called on China to put pressure on the regime to abandon its nuclear missile program, while President Donald Trump has accused China of not doing enough.

On Sunday, Susan Thornton, acting assistant secretary for the State Department Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said in Manila that the U.S. would focus on China’s implementation to keep measures from “slipping back,” as she said they had in the past.

Elsewhere in the region, the U.S. faces other diplomatic challenges reining in Pyongyang, in part because policing sanctions is expensive.

“Very rigorously enforcing sanctions has significant costs for the enforcer, and Southeast Asian countries are not generally willing to bear those costs,” said Justin Hastings, professor of international relations at the University of Sydney.

In addition, some nations say they prefer to engage diplomatically with North Korea rather than isolate the regime as the U.S. has argued for.

A Japanese foreign ministry spokesman said Sunday that “now is not the time for dialogue but the time to increase effective pressure on North Korea, so that they will take concrete actions toward denuclearization.”

Others took a different tack. “I think it’s better that people talk,” Philippine foreign secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said Friday. “The less we talk, the more grave the situation can become.”

Several countries in Southeast Asia, such as Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, host North Korean embassies and some ties will be hard to unravel. Thailand was North Korea’s third-largest import partner in 2015.

Malaysia has historically close ties to North Korea and until early this year was one of only a handful of nations to allow North Koreans to travel visa-free. That relationship deteriorated in February after the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was killed in a Kuala Lumpur airport in an operation that South Korean officials believe was orchestrated by Pyongyang. North Korea has denied any connection with the killing.

–Jonathan Cheng in Hong Kong, Patrick McDowell in Jakarta and Eva Dou in Beijing contributed to this article.

Write to Jake Maxwell Watts at and Ben Otto at


Trump ready to tackle North Korea alone — Exclusive Interview by The Financial Times

April 3, 2017

By Lionel Barber, Demetri Sevastopulo and Gillian Tett in Washington
The Financial Times

Image result for donald trump, photos

Donald Trump has warned that the US will take unilateral action to eliminate the nuclear threat from North Korea unless China increases pressure on the regime in Pyongyang.

In an interview with the Financial Times, the US president said he would discuss the growing threat from Kim Jong Un’s nuclear programme with Xi Jinping when he hosts the Chinese president at his Florida resort this week, in their first meeting.

Related article FT interview: Trump on Merkel, Twitter and Republican infighting The US president says he has no regrets about his style and agenda but, as his 100-day anniversary approaches, governing is harder than he thought “China has great influence over North Korea. And China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t,” Mr Trump said in the Oval Office. “If they do, that will be very good for China, and if they don’t, it won’t be good for anyone.”

But he made clear that he would deal with North Korea with or without China’s help.

Asked if he would consider a “grand bargain” — where China pressures Pyongyang in exchange for a guarantee that the US would later remove troops from the Korean peninsula — Mr Trump said: “Well if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you.”

The White House views North Korea as the most imminent threat to the US after Barack Obama warned his successor about the progress Pyongyang had made developing long-range missiles and nuclear weapons.

“There is a real possibility that North Korea will be able to hit the US with a nuclear-armed missile by the end of the first Trump term,” KT McFarland, the deputy White House national security adviser, told the FT in a separate interview.

There is a real possibility that North Korea will be able to hit the US with a nuclear-armed missile by the end of the first Trump term KT McFarland, deputy White House national security adviser While Mr Trump is increasingly worried about North Korea, his view on Europe has moderated. He stressed that Brexit would be a “great deal for [the] UK and . . . really good for the European Union” but said he was less convinced that other countries would follow the UK out of the EU.

“I think that it [the centre] is really holding. I think they have done a better job since Brexit.”

Ahead of the US-China summit, Mr Trump raised hopes that he would reach some kind of deal with Mr Xi, despite heavy criticism about China’s trade surplus and exchange rate policy.

“I have great respect for him. I have great respect for China. I would not be at all surprised if we did something that would be very dramatic and good for both countries and I hope so.”

The National Security Council has completed a review of options on North Korea that Mr Trump ordered after his inauguration, according to two people familiar with the review. One of those people said the review had been accelerated to have the options ready for the Trump-Xi summit.

Mr Trump said it was “totally” possible for the US to tackle North Korea without China. Asked if that meant dealing with Pyongyang one on one, he said: “I don’t have to say any more. Totally.”  Barring a pre-emptive strike on North Korea — which the administration will not rule out since all options are on the table — many experts believe the US needs Chinese help as Beijing has the most sway over Pyongyang. But Washington could consider alternatives, ranging from more effective sanctions to various kinds of more controversial covert action.

Image result for donald trump, photos, Oval office

“What President Trump is trying to do here is to press the Chinese hard by warning them what comes next if they don’t help or join with the US to deal with this problem,” said Dennis Wilder, a former CIA China analyst who later served as the top White House Asia aide to George W Bush.

Related article Donald Trump in his own words An edited transcript of the Financial Times interview with the US president

“What he is signalling is that the next step is to begin secondary sanctions, which we have avoided. They are sanctions on Chinese companies and individuals who deal with North Korea,” he added. Mr Wilder said Mr Trump could also pressure China not to use North Korean labour, which is a source of revenue for Pyongyang.

“Then you get to the other options, which are much more controversial, like taking covert action against North Korea, for example using cyber.” The mounting concerns about North Korea were underscored recently when Rex Tillerson, the US secretary of state, said during a visit to Asia that the previous US “policy of strategic patience has ended”.

China has also raised alarms about the increasingly dangerous situation on the Korean peninsula.

Last month, Wang Yi, the Chinese foreign minister, called on North Korea to halt its missile and nuclear programmes, while urging the US to stop military exercises that anger Pyongyang. “The two sides are like two accelerating trains coming towards each other with neither side willing to give way. The question is, are the two sides really ready for a head-on collision?” Mr Wang said.

Follow Demetri Sevastopulo on Twitter: @dimi



China insists Philippines violated agreements on disputed sea — “This is pure Chinese fabrication” the Philippines says

February 24, 2016
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks during a media availability with Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department in Washington, Tuesday, February 26. AP/Susan Walsh

MANILA, Philippines — Beijing on Wednesday insisted that Manila violated agreements on maritime conduct in the disputed South China Sea.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi claimed that the Philippines reneged on the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) between China and Southeast Asian nations.

“It is exactly one country, and let me not avoid mentioning the name: that is, the Philippines has violated the stipulation of Article 4 of DOC and has given up on the dialogue and negotiations with the direct concerned parties of China, which is regrettable and which is ill-advised,” Wang said.

The Philippines had filed an arbitration case against China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands. China, however, refused to participate in the proceedings.

Wang warned other claimant countries in the region from deploying naval power to enforce their claims.

“We don’t hope to see anymore close-up military reconnaissance or the dispatch of missile destroyers or strategic bombers to the South China Sea. This is something we have a responsibility for under our non-militarization commitment,” the Chinese Foreign Minister said.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry stressed the importance of diplomatic solution in resolving the maritime dispute in the region.

“We think everybody benefits by true demilitarization, non-militarization. We also urged people to clarify the territorial and maritime claims in accordance with international law and to commit to peacefully resolve and manage disputes,” Kerry said.

A US think tank earlier reported that China may be building radars in some of its artificial islands at the Spratly Island Group in the South China Sea.

A few weeks ago, Fox News reported that Beijing has deployed surface-to-air missiles at Woody Island, a part of the Paracel Island chain in the disputed sea.

When Peace and Freedom asked for a comment from the Philippine government, we were told by a senior diplomat “This is pure Chinese fabrication.”

China, the United States and the Risk of War

June 2, 2015


Beware the
Thucydides.   Image Credit: Wikicommons

Lanxin Xiang says Beijing and Washington cannot go on misreading each other if war is to be averted

By Lanxin Xiang

South China Morning Post

A US-China war over the South China Sea was, just a few years ago, dismissed as being absurd. Today, however, such a scenario can no longer be laughed away. The old cliché was that only three issues could trigger a Sino-US war – Taiwan, Taiwan and Taiwan. That danger is still there, but it’s on the back burner now. Meanwhile, the maritime dispute has thrust itself to the fore and each player is under pressure to throw down the gauntlet.

We miss the good old days of tacit understanding between the US and China, and the Richard Nixon-Henry Kissinger era of “strategic ambiguity”, which actually helped sustain peace based on tacit understanding of each other’s objectives.

Today, the real danger in US-China rivalry is no longer whether the two countries trust each other strategically, but rather in the constant misreading of each other’s signals. A military clash could be triggered if this persists.

Is war between Washington and Beijing inevitable, or probable but avoidable? If it’s considered inevitable, the only choice for both governments has to be to beef up military preparations. If it’s the latter, then both sides must identify the roots of the problem. Managing the intense and potentially violent competition between entrenched leaders and upstart rivals is a hot topic in policy circles. The contest is usually cast as the Thucydides trap, which posits that a rising power will inevitably challenge the incumbent power, usually through military means.

An ambitious rising state will improve its position in the following ways: by territorial acquisition; expansion of its spheres of influence; or, revision of the norms and rules written or enforced by the reigning power.

Until recently, mainstream American policy elite were still unsure about the validity of this thesis, but the consensus in Washington is now tilting towards containment and confrontation. This, they claim, has been caused mainly by China’s assertive behaviour in the South China Sea. A Thucydides trap has been sprung and the clouds of war are gathering.

But Beijing doesn’t believe the theory always holds true. As President Xi Jinping said in January last year: ” We all need to work together to avoid the Thucydides trap … The argument that strong countries are bound to seek hegemony does not apply to China. This is not in the DNA of the country…” Thus, the Chinese have concluded that the US is paranoid about China’s rise and has voluntarily fallen, along with Japan, into the Thucydides trap, and no one can help them but themselves. Thinking this way, China naturally feels it is on the high moral ground and looks at the US behaviour with pity and disdain.

While the Washington policy elite debate heatedly about whether the US should abandon its long-established “accommodationist” approach to China’s rise, the Chinese feel that such debate has been triggered by US domestic pressures and China is often made a scapegoat to deflect the tension. As a result, the real shift in US policy consensus on China is not given sufficient attention and any signal that America is toughening its stance on the South China Sea issue is dismissed as bluffing.

Both sides have been haggling over the “facts” of who has done what, when and how. For example, the US presents an “assertive China” narrative, whose defining moment came during an Asean meeting in April 2010 when the Chinese foreign minister apparently used impolite language, by diplomatic standards.

The Chinese have their own narrative, of course, about an American conspiracy, pointing out that, at the same meeting, then US secretary of state Hillary Clinton secretly rallied some members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for a diplomatic coup against China.

The escalation of accusations against each other bodes ill for the cause to avert war. We must find a way out of the dilemma.

Little attention has been paid to the language differences in understanding the concept of a Thucydides trap. While the Americans see a “trap” as a dynamic mechanism waiting to be triggered, the Chinese consider it a device to trick someone. Thus, Americans use the term “trap being sprung”, implying certain conditionality, while the Chinese talk of a trap to “fall into”, implying deception.

Here we may find a clue that plagues any serious dialogue over the South China Sea. To begin with, the leaders on both sides must be willing to do everything possible to avoid war. Any solution requires concessions.

That is to say, the US should not deny that it is responsible for unnecessarily provoking and humiliating Beijing, especially with its misleading “pivot” to Asia.

Beijing also needs some self-reflection, even “self-criticism”, to paraphrase Mao Zedong. A Thucydides trap implies responsibility on the part of both the rising power and the status quo power. It refers to an interactive dynamism. Xi’s advisers, it seems, have not done their homework well, for the Chinese translation of “trap” ( xianjing) is plainly wrong – it literally refers to a hole in the ground for trapping animals, hence a one-sided conspiracy.

Thus, the US “trap”, a mechanical device to catch its prey – but only if triggered – is not nearly as self-righteous as the Chinese one. China therefore needs to do more psychological adjustment.

As both desire regional and international stability, we must assume that Beijing and Washington will be inclined to manage their bilateral disputes peacefully.

Lanxin Xiang is a professor at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva

Chinese Foreign Minister Upbeat on Iran Nuclear Talks

March 30, 2015


LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Monday that Iran and world powers were narrowing their differences over Tehran’s disputed nuclear program, voicing optimism a day ahead of a self-imposed deadline for an outline accord.

“Positions are narrowing,” Wang told reporters in the Swiss city of Lausanne, adding that he was “cautiously optimistic”.

(Reporting by John Irish; Writing by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Catherine Evans)

Why China and the Philippines Won’t Reconcile Anytime Soon

March 13, 2015


Manila and Beijing have a long way to go before improving their troubled relations.

Defense Minister of Malaysia Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and Secretary of National Defense Voltaire Gazmin hold a bilateral meeting on Mar. 10, 2015, in Manila to strengthen the defense cooperation between the Philippines and Malaysia. Between the Philippines and China there have been virtually no such meetings

By Richard Javad Heydarian
The Diplomat

Almost two years into Xi Jinping’s tenure at the helm of the Chinese political system, he had yet to meet his Filipino counterpart, Benigno Aquino III. His foreign minister, Wang Yi, who repeatedly got into heated exchanges with his Filipino counterpart, Albert Del Rosario, in various regional fora, had yet to make a single official visit to the Philippines more than a year into office.

The dearth of high-level dialogue between the two countries reflected the depth of bilateral animosities, especially after a dangerous standoff over the Scarborough Shoal in mid-2012, which perilously placed the two neighbors on the verge of an armed confrontation. But there was a whiff of new hope for revival in Philippine-China relations when Xi and Aquino managed to conduct an  ‘icebreaker’ meeting on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing in late-2014.

In fact, Aquino was quite sentimental in describing his minutes-long encounter with Xi by claiming a ‘meeting of minds‘ with his Chinese counterpart. The confab marked the first face-to-face talk between the two heads of state. A closer look, however, reveals that the two neighbors will face an uphill battle in repairing their frayed ties.

China seems to be hardening its position in the South China Sea by ramping up its construction activities in disputed waters, frustrating efforts at negotiating a Code of Conduct (CoC) for maritime disputes in the region, and lambasting other claimant countries for fortifying their position on the ground.

The Dearth of Dialogue

While the Xi-Aquino meeting was a highly symbolic reflection of a shared desire to prevent a total breakdown in bilateral ties, one must not exaggerate the nature and implications of the encounter. To begin with, the meeting was not even a formal, pre-arranged dialogue.

There were no specific agreements on the agenda. The two leaders hardly even made any joint rhetorical pronouncement to, for instance, reaffirm their commitment to normalizing bilateral ties. This stood in stark contrast to Xi’s meeting with his Vietnamese and Japanese counterparts during the APEC summit.

Both Vietnam and Japan managed to renegotiate the parameters of their bilateral relations with China, discussing, among other things, the possibility of expanding existing crisis-management mechanisms to avoid accidental clashes and unwanted escalation in the high seas. Meanwhile, the Manila is yet to negotiate a single hotline with Beijing. In short, there were no concrete, tangible gains from the Xi-Aquino meeting.

With the Philippines hosting the 2015 APEC summit, both Xi Jinping and Wang Yi are set to make their first visit to Manila, potentially culminating in a formal dialogue between Aquino and Xi. The two countries could finally explore a new roadmap for de-escalating their maritime disputes and restoring a semblance of order and trust in their bilateral relations.

Yet, bilateral ties were once again tested when China officially boycotted the ongoing arbitration process in The Hague in the final weeks of 2014. China has fervently criticized Manila’s request for compulsory arbitration of the South China Sea disputes under the aegis of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Manila’s is set to submit additional legal arguments against China by late March.

Resupplying the Philippine Marine platoon posted at Ayungin Shoal on March 29, 2014. The smaller vessel is the Philippine resupply boat. The larger vessel is from China’s Coast Guard, which seemed to be trying to stop the lawful resupply of the Filipino Marines. Photographer: Jay Directo/AFP/Getty Images

Back to Zero

Earlier this year, tensions over the Scarborough Shoal, which has been effectively cordoned off by Chinese para-military forces, were rekindled when Chinese Coast Guard forces allegedly rammed three Filipino fishing boats straddling close to the contested feature. Bilateral ties took a major hit when Filipino officials recently made a decision to effectively evict 18 Chinese experts, who have been working at the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP). The Chinese technicians were working on behalf of the State Grid Corporation of China, which holds a 40% stake in the NGCP. Filipino officials have insinuated that the decision was partly shaped by national security-related concerns.

Manila has been particularly alarmed by the latest satellite imagery which reveals accelerated Chinese construction activities in the Spratly chain of islands, with the Fiery Cross Reef, for instance, having been artificially expanded to over 11 times its original size. Approximately 200 Chinese troops are said to be stationed in the strategic feature. A Chinese Air Defense Identification Zone in the South China Sea could just be around the corner.

Far from revisiting its assertive posturing in adjacent waters, China seems to have hardened its opposition to any ASEAN-brokered diplomatic compromise by deliberately blocking the discussion of a Code of Conduct (CoC) in the South China Sea. During the ASEAN Defence Senior Officials’ Meeting Plus, held in Kuala Lumpur, China opposed ASEAN members, who pushed for placing the CoC issue on the agenda of regional defense ministers’ meeting later this year.

In a recent press conference, the Chinese foreign minister angered his ASEAN counterparts by brazenly claiming that it was instead countries like Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines, who were engaged “in illegal construction in another person’s [China’s] house.” He defended China’s sweeping constructing activities across the South China Sea by boldly asserting Beijing has “every right to do things that are lawful and justified.”

It is far from clear whether the ASEAN has enough resolve and diplomatic capital to bring China back to the negotiating table. What is clear is that Manila and Beijing have a long way to go before improving their troubled relations.

Richard Javad Heydarian is an assistant professor in political science at De La Salle University, and a policy adviser at the Philippine House of Representatives. He has authored more than 400 articles and policy papers on Asian geopolitical affairs, writing for or interviewed by Foreign Affairs, BBC, Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The National Interest, The Nation, and NPR among others. He is the author of “The Philippines: The US, China and the Struggle for Asia’s Pivot State” (London, forthcoming).


(Contains links to several related articles)


Kerry: US, China, Japan ‘United’ on N. Korea Denuclearization

July 2, 2013

Kerry presses North Korea over nuke disarmament

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, speaks during a meeting with Japan and South Korea during the ASEAN meetings in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, on Monday. (Photo by Jacquelyn Martin — AP)

By Scott Stearns
Voice of America

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, BRUNEI — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says China is taking “firm steps” to convince North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program. Kerry met with foreign ministers from China, Japan, and South Korea at a forum of South East Asian nations, where officials also discussed details of a U.S. surveillance program leaked by a former intelligence analyst.
South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se says international pressure is forcing North Korea to change its “game plan from brinkmanship to a charm offensive” in an effort to weaken the united front of South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, and the United States.
But he says that is not going to happen because those allies understand that common challenges require common wisdom.
“North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons will never be tolerated,” he said. “North Korea’s simultaneous pursuit of nuclear and economic development is not palatable and thus doomed to failure. North Korea will face further isolation and dire consequences in the event of provocations.”
The South Korean foreign minister met with Secretary Kerry and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida following Kerry’s talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at this meeting of the Association of South East Asian Nations, or ASEAN. Kerry says Washington, Seoul, Tokyo, and Beijing are determined to convince Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.
“All four of us are absolutely united and absolutely firm in our insistence that the future with respect to North Korea must include denuclearization. China made it clear to me they have made very firm statements and very firm steps that they have taken with respect to the implementation of that policy,” he said.
Kerry says North Korean leaders need to understand there is a better path open to them.
“The region will be better with the denuclearization. And the possibilities of normal relationships not just between the South and the North or China and North Korea but between the United States and North Korea and the rest of the world lies at the end of engaging in a serious set of steps to denuclearize,” he said.
In his talks with the Chinese foreign minister, Kerry says they discussed the case of former U.S. intelligence analyst Edward Snowden, who was allowed to leave Hong Kong for Moscow after the United States had requested his extradition on charges related to his leaking details of U.S. surveillance of telephone and Internet records.
Earlier on this trip, Kerry spoke of “consequences” for China and Russia helping Snowden avoid U.S. justice. Now he says those concerns must be balanced against cooperation on other issues including maritime disputes in the South China Sea.
“The Obama administration believes that our friends in China could in fact have made a difference here, but we have a lot of issues that we are dealing with right now,” he said.
Information leaked by Snowden includes allegations that the United States listened in on conversations by members of the European Union. Kerry says EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton asked him about that during their talks at this ASEAN forum, and he told her he did not know anything about it because he has been so tied up with Middle East peace efforts.
Kerry says he promised to find out the truth and get back to her, offering reporters a broad defense of the surveillance program, saying it is “not unusual for lots of nations” to “undertake lots of activities to protect national security, and all kinds of information contribute to that.”

South China Sea tension mounts near Filipino shipwreck

May 29, 2013

By Manuel Mogato, Reuters

A wrecked navy transport ship perched on a remote coral reef could be  the next flashpoint in the South China Sea, where China and five other  claimants bitterly dispute territory.

The Philippine government  is accusing China of encroachment after three Chinese ships, including a  naval frigate, converged just 5 nautical miles from an old transport  ship that the Philippines deliberately ran aground on a reef in 1999 to  mark its territory.

Philippine officials say they fear the  Chinese ships will block supplies to about a dozen Filipino marines  stationed in abject conditions on the rusting ship, raising tensions  over one of Asia’s biggest security issues.

The area, known as  Second Thomas Shoal, is a strategic gateway to Reed Bank, believed to be  rich in oil and natural gas. In 2010, Manila awarded an Anglo-Filipino  consortium a license to explore for gas on Reed Bank but drilling  stalled last year due to the presence of Chinese ships.

Manila  says Reed Bank, about 80 nautical miles west of Palawan island at the  southwestern end of the Philippine archipelago, is within the country’s  200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

Beijing says it is  part of the Spratlys, a group of 250 uninhabitable islets spread over  165,000 square miles, claimed entirely by China, Taiwan and Vietnam and  in part by Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines.

“China should  pull out of the area because under international law, they do not have  the right to be there,” said Raul Hernandez, a spokesman for the  Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, noting the area’s proximity to  Palawan, the country’s largest province.

He said the Chinese ships were a “provocation and illegal presence.”

Chinese  Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Tuesday the Second Thomas  Shoal was part of the Spratly Islands, over which China had  “indisputable sovereignty.”

“It is beyond reproach for Chinese  boats to carry out patrols in these waters,” Hong said, adding China  called on all parties to “refrain from taking actions that complicate  the situation.”

The tension illustrates how a decades-old  territorial squabble over the South China Sea is entering a more  contentious chapter as claimant nations spread deeper into disputed  waters in search of energy supplies, while building up navies and  alliances with other nations.

Second Thomas Shoal is one of  several possible flashpoints in the South China Sea that could force the  United States to intervene in defense of its Southeast Asian allies.

The  tension comes just before U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel meets his  Asia-Pacific counterparts at the so-called Shangri-La Dialogue in  Singapore at the weekend. The South China Sea is on the agenda of the  regional security forum.

‘Clear and present danger’ Philippine  authorities say the three Chinese ships arrived in Second Thomas Shoal  on or around May 8, escorting a fleet of 30 fishing boats. Two days  later, the Philippines formally lodged a protest with China over the  vessels.

As of Tuesday, two Chinese marine surveillance ships  remained in the area, Philippine navy spokesman Colonel Edgardo Arevalo  said. The fishing boats and the frigate had left, he said.

“The  presence of those ships is a clear and present danger,” said another  senior Philippine navy officer, who declined to be identified as he is  not authorized to speak to the media. He said the Philippines believed  China was trying to pressure it to leave the shoal.

“We don’t  want to wake up one day with fresh structures sitting near our navy ship  there. We have to bite the bullet and strengthen our position there or  risk losing the territory.”

The wrecked U.S.-built ship, the BRP  Sierra Madre, is among Asia’s loneliest military outposts. The ship was  launched in World War Two, saw action in Okinawa and was used again in  the Vietnam War. It was transferred to the Philippine government in 1976  under a military assistance program.

Soldiers are equipped with a small generator for cooking. Radios are battery-powered and supplies are delivered by boat.

“They want us out of the area,” another Philippine navy officer said of China.

The  Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), a 10-nation grouping  that includes the Philippines, has been talking to China about a binding  code of conduct to ease tension. But China says it will negotiate “when  the time is ripe.”

ASEAN foreign ministers are due to meet in  Thailand in August to forge a position on the code of conduct before  meeting Chinese officials in late August or early September in Beijing.

The  easternmost territory held by China is Mischief Reef, about 40  miles northwest of Second Thomas Shoal. China occupied it in 1995. The  Philippines occupied Second Thomas Reef with the BRP Sierra Madre in  1999, preventing China moving further east.

The BRF Sierre Madre, formerly a US tank-landing ship which saw action in World War II and the Vietnam War, ran aground on Ayungin Reef in 1999 and has since been an advance outpost for the Philippine military. (Internet photo)


In March, Malaysia  protested against the incursion of four Chinese ships in James Shoal,  about 50 miles off Sarawak on Borneo island. Chinese sailors  fired guns in the air during the visit to the shoal. Last month, a  Chinese maritime surveillance ship returned to James Shoal to leave  behind steel markers to assert its claim.

Risk of miscalculation Zha  Daojiong, an international relations professor at Beijing’s Peking  University, said China was serious about asserting its claims in the  South China Sea and it was important the region did not misunderstand  this.

“There is now a quiet agreement among different Chinese  voices that sometimes you have to act as well as issuing statements,” he  said. China would, however, never completely close the door on possible  co-operation.

Ian Storey, a scholar at Singapore’s Institute of  South East Asian Studies, said tension at Second Thomas Shoal could  prove more dangerous than last year’s stand-off at unoccupied  Scarborough Shoal, given the presence of Filipino troops.

“It is  hard to imagine China using force to gain full control over Second  Thomas, but some kind of blockade to drive out the Philippines’ troops  would have to be a possibility,” Storey said. “There is a real chance of  escalation or miscalculation.”

Above: Then U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi exchange views on the South China Sea at a news conference in Beijing Sept. 5, 2012. Photo: AP/Feng Li, Pool


From the South China Morning Post on May 25, 2013:


Map of South China Sea

China claims “indisputable” and “inherent” sovereignty over the South China Sea

ROC Coast Guard Administration personnel carry out a gunnery drill in waters near the Diaoyutai Archipelago. (CNA)

The island of Kalayaan, which means “Freedom” in Filipino, that was created in 1978 mainly to assert the Philippines’ claim to the disputed territory in the Spratlys, a chain of islets in the South China Sea. (AFP/Kayalaan Municipal Office)

A newly-constructed radar dome on Chinese-controlled Subi Reef, in the disputed Spratly islands region. China says it has sovereign rights over nearly all of the South China Sea, even waters far away from its main landmass and approaching the coasts of Southeast Asian countries. (AFP)

Vietnamese sailors train on Phan Vinh Island in the Spratly archipelago, in 2011. Dozens of Vietnamese soldiers died in losing battles in 1974 and 1988 with Chinese forces for control of islands in the sea.

Photo: Chinese officers stop and question fishermen in the South China Sea. Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan and others have had trouble with China’s aggression in the South China Sea.

Vietnamese fishermen say that China’s rules are not legal.


Japan Pulls Out of Shanghai Sevens Over Political Dispute; Must Feel Isolated, Bewildered

September 20, 2012

The Japanese must feel pretty isolated about now. President Obama has been silent on the China-Japan dispute and his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton just returned from China and his Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is in China now….

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta reviews a naval honor guard at Qingdao, China before touring Chinese naval vessels of the North Sea Fleet Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Larry Downing, Pool)

Above: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chinese Foreign Minister exchange views on the South China Sea at a news conference in Beijing Sept. 5. Photo: AP/Feng Li, Pool

“China has sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea and their adjacent waters,” Foreign Minister Yang Jeichi told her bluntly. “There is plentiful historical and jurisprudential evidence for that.”

Reuters – Japan have pulled out of the second leg of the Asian Sevens Series in Shanghai amid a worsening political crisis over disputed islands with China.

The two nations have a long-standing dispute over an uninhabited group of islands in the East China Sea – known as the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China

The row escalated on Tuesday after two Japanese activists landed on one of the islands with Beijing describing the move as provocative. China lodged a complaint with Tokyo and said it reserved the right to take further action.

The move came on the highly-charged anniversary of Japan’s occupation of its giant neighbour in 1931.

The Japan Rugby Football Union has therefore decided against making the weekend trip to Shanghai, the Kyodo news agency reported.

“We’ve been training hard to try to win the competition so this is disappointing,” said coach Tomohiro Segawa. “We just have to move on from this and keep working.”

The Chinese have also withdrawn their badminton players from this week’s Japan Open while a Japanese cycling team have been kicked out of a race in China.

In addition, Japan’s Olympic silver medallist Kasumi Ishikawa was pulled out of a World Cup table tennis event because Chinese organisers could not guarantee her safety.

Japan’s rugby players lead the way in the four-leg Asian Series following their win in the opening Borneo Sevens.

The penultimate leg will be held in Mumbai followed by the final event in Singapore which will double up as the Asian qualifier for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow in 2013.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Tony Jimenez)

Above: A damaged Japanese supermarket in Qingdao, China, on Sunday, September 16, 2012, after an attack by Chinese demonstrators the day before. Kyodo News, via Associated Press. Chinese people have turned their anti-Japan protests into ugly scenes of violence and property damage….

China Says It Is Dedicated to Peace and Stability in South China Sea, Asia

September 10, 2012
The People’s Republic of China’s (PLA) deputy chief of  general staff Gen Ma Xiaotian told Defence Minister Datuk  Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi that any conflict in the region,  especially involving Asean, would be better resolved through  diplomatic and non-military intervention.
New Strait Times (Singapore)
“Gen Ma assured us that this was the best option for  continued peace and stability in the (much disputed) region,”  Zahid told newsmen in reference to the stand-offs involving  China and several Asean countries concerning the Spratly  Islands in the South China Sea.
Ma’s comments strengthened that of the then PLA’s de fence forces chief’s firm statement on advocating peace via diplomacy during the latter’s visit to Kuala Lumpur with the  then Defence Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak more than 20  years ago.
Tokyo government workers preparing to launch a boat to survey disputed islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea last week. Reuters pic.
Read more: Tiny islands pose big political issues – Columnist –
New Straits Times

The disputed Senkaku islands in the East China Sea

The disputed Senkaku islands in the East China Sea. Photograph: AP
Zahid added Ma was in favour of pragmatic steps that  included frequent dialogues and consultations at all levels, among dissenting nations to resolve territorial and sovereign  disputes, rather than confrontational measures.
“Even since 1974 when Malaysia recognised China diplomatically, they have exhibited this attitude of friendliness.  Till today, we have many bilateral exchange programmes,  including annual regional exercises and the training of up to 5,000 officers till now for each country,” Zahid said after receiving a courtesy call
from Ma at the Defence Ministry  yesterday.
China has basically pledged not to make trouble as long as every other nation on earth bows to China’s claim of full ownership and control of the South China Sea…..
Zahid added that China was keen to collaborate in the joint  manufacture of defence equipment and promote the  Malaysian Defence and Security Technology Park in Sungkai,  Perak.
On another note, Zahid said he would investigate claims by  the Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar last  Saturday on the pricing of Rapid Intervention Vehicles  (RIV).
The Sultan alleged that the purchase of four RIVs for the  Special Forces Regiment was billed at RM2.76mil, or  RM690,000 each, whereas he had bought one for only  RM160,000.
“We have taken note of the ruler’s positive comments and  will scrutinise the procurement exercise. Perhaps, the spec ifications differ,” said Zahid.
Sultan Ibrahim, who is the Special Forces’ colonel-in-chief,  had also expressed his disappointment over the quality of  military equipment used by the commandos..Read more: China reiterates stand on peace in South China Sea –
Latest – New Straits Times


Tiny Specs Of Islands have Created an International Uproar

New Strait Times (Singapore)

THEY are mere specks on the map. Many are uninhabited, and others sparsely so by fishermen and seasonal residents. Yet the disputed ownership of these tiny constellations of islands is inflaming nationalist fervour from the cold North Pacific to the tropical South China Sea.

In recent weeks, these long-simmering tensions have returned to a boil, with violent protests in Chinese cities, a provocative island junket by South Korea’s lame-duck president, and Japan’s government reportedly planning to buy disputed islands from their private owners.

Above: Chinese fishermen are all over the South China Sea and have been frequently been accused of violating the territorial waters of other nations….

The popular analysis is that the rising tensions are fueled by a regional power shift that has seen China become increasingly assertive with its neighbours in securing claims over potentially resource-rich waters to its south and east.

But the growing acrimony may have at least as much to do with domestic political posturing.

.”Wrapping yourself up in the national flag gives a very convenient exit for people with other agendas to justify their positions,” said political scientist Koichi Nakano of Tokyo’s Sophia University.

Nationalism has often been used by China’s communist leaders to cover up domestic problems.

Above: China has built upon many shallow reefs and claimed they are now “occupied” and therefore “owned” by China….

The same could be said, to an extent, in Japan and South Korea, where some politicians seem to be using the island disputes to further their agendas ahead of elections or to divert attention from thornier topics.

Few believe the diverse Asian actors in this rapidly developing drama will come to blows, but manipulation of popular opinion among island disputants, like China, South Korea and the Philippines, is raising the chances of violence by either accident or miscalculation.

Above: “Large-scale deep-water rigs are our mobile national territory and a strategic weapon,” says Chairman Wang Yilin of  China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC)

Such an outcome would seriously threaten the fragile tranquillity that has helped catapult tens of millions of Asians from poverty to prosperity.

Preferred access to potentially lucrative oil and gas reserves and rich fishing grounds is helping to drive the disputes, along with an increasingly prosperous and militarily strong China that is beginning to challenge America’s historic supremacy as a Pacific power.

“There is a big power shift in this region and that is encouraging the parties involved to make their case to not lose their ground,” said security specialist Narushige Michishita of Japan’s National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.

But the nationalist card is also front and centre as governments jockey for position.

“Nationalism is playing a very large role in all of these disputes,” said international relations specialist George Tsai of Taipei’s Chinese Culture University.

“Whether it’s China, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines or Korea, all these countries are appealing to nationalist sentiments.”

.Nakano said right-wing politicians in Japan are using the issue to drum up nationalist support, and even mainstream politicians in the ruling party seem willing to let the issue grab headlines from issues like a tax hike and energy policy reforms that are being demanded after last year’s nuclear disaster.

.Similar motives can be seen in outgoing South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s visit to an island claimed by Seoul and Tokyo as he seeks to boost his legacy on what could become a key issue in his party’s bid to maintain power in what will be a toughly fought election.

.Last month, Lee became the first Korean president to set foot on Dokdo island, which is called Takeshima by Japan.

.Korea and Japan have a bitter history, marked by decades of harsh Japanese colonial rule on the Korean Peninsula. Thumbing one’s nose at Tokyo has long had substantial cachet for millions of Koreans.

.”I’m sceptical that this has anything to do with international relations,” Nakano said. “It has more to do with domestic politics because internationally, it doesn’t make any sense.”

.In the Philippines, President Benigno Aquino has been much more outspoken than predecessor Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on the need to defend the country’s territorial claims, and has publicly appealed to the US for help with China’s challenge to disputed areas in the South China Sea.

.Aquino wants international arbitrators to resolve the issues, a stance that has nettled China, which insists the best way of settling differences with Asian neighbours is through bilateral talks.

.China has also been at loggerheads with Vietnam, particularly after Beijing’s formal creation of a municipality headquartered on Woody Island in the Paracel Islands, long a bone of contention between the two nations.

.China and Vietnam have a millennia-long history of fear and loathing, and China’s establishment of a Paracels prefecture prompted anti-China demonstrations in Hanoi, where authorities are normally quick to squelch popular manifestations of anger.

.Vietnam has also sparred with Taiwan over the South China Sea’s Spratly Islands, claimed by China, Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia.

.Last Tuesday, the Taiwanese Coast Guard held a live fire exercise on Taiping Island in the Spratly chain, partly in response to the Vietnamese occupation of other Spratly locations. Taiwanese legislators rushed to attend the exercises.

.Just north of Taiwan, China and Japan remain immersed in their long-running battle over what the Japanese call the Senkaku Islands and the Chinese call Diaoyutai. Located roughly equidistant from Chinese and Japanese territory, the Japanese-controlled islands surged to prominence earlier this year when Shintaro Ishihara, Tokyo’s strongly nationalistic governor, proposed purchasing and developing them.

.Japan’s central government stepped in, and on Wednesday. Japanese media reported it had agreed to buy several islands from their private Japanese owners, a move that Japanese experts say is an attempt to sideline Ishihara and his nationalistic agenda.

.Thousands took to the streets in Chinese cities last month to protest Japan’s claims, with demonstrators burning flags and vandalising Japanese restaurants and cars.

.Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Katsuya Okada maintained on Thursday that the flare-up had not hurt official relations between the countries and emotions on both sides were being fanned by activists. AP

Read more: Tiny islands pose big political issues – Colu
mnist – New Straits Times

Above: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jeichi exchange views on the South China Sea at a news conference in Beijing Sept. 5. Photo: AP/Feng Li, Pool. Clinton was told that China’s South China Sea claims are historically accurate and cannot be questioned.