Posts Tagged ‘Xi Jinping’

The ‘Fire and Fury’ Crisis: Trump Risks a Backfire Over China and North Korea

August 15, 2017

U.S. president walks a dangerous line with Xi Jinping by pressuring Beijing on trade and Pyongyang conflict

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping walk together at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., during an April meeting. Mr. Trump is increasing pressure on Mr. Xi over trade issues and North Korea tensions.
U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping walk together at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., during an April meeting. Mr. Trump is increasing pressure on Mr. Xi over trade issues and North Korea tensions. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Aug. 15, 2017 5:37 a.m. ET

SHANGHAI—By ordering his first trade action against Beijing, while amping up pressure on Chinese leaders to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear menace, U.S. President Donald Trump is bringing to a head two of the most intractable problems that bedevil U.S.-China relations.

There are hints that Mr. Trump’s hard-nosed strategy could be having an impact—at least in the near-term. After repeated North Korean threats to launch missiles toward the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, Pyongyang suddenly backed away from that threat Tuesday. And China has signed on to U.N. sanctions that will slash North Korea’s already meager foreign revenues by another $1 billion.

But Mr. Trump’s strategy comes with risks; each issue—trade and North Korea—is volatile enough to upend the relationship.

Mismanaged, one could ignite a trade war, the other to scenarios that lead to military conflict.

To avoid these dangers, the two sides would have to reconcile clashing views on Asian security, which shape their divergent approaches to North Korea, and incompatible economic systems, which drive trade frictions.

Successive U.S. administrations have delayed the reckoning that Mr. Trump now seeks, precisely because the chances of pulling off such a diplomatic outcome are so improbable.

Indeed, Washington may have missed the opportunity long ago when it had more leverage. The Chinese economy is now powerful enough to withstand any trade sanctions; it is less dependent on exports, whereas U.S. corporations are more reliant than ever on access to China’s consumer markets. A tit-for-tat trade war would hurt both sides, and damage U.S. friends and allies in global supply chains that run through China.

Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping, riding a wave of assertive nationalism he’s helped to whip up, aims to diminish the U.S. presence in Asia and weaken its alliance system. He has no interest in any kind of arrangement for the Korean Peninsula that would strengthen America’s position there, and allow Washington to turn its attention to other flashpoints like Taiwan and the South China Sea.

Beijing’s bottom line: the status quo in North Korea is preferable to the upheaval required to take out its nuclear weapons, most likely including regime change.

White House officials insist there is no linkage between the North Korean issue and Monday’s presidential order to examine whether an investigation is warranted into Chinese requirements that U.S. companies give up technology in return for market access, as well as outright intellectual property theft.

One Week of Escalation With North Korea
An escalation of threats between Washington and Pyongyang has rattled world leaders, injected uncertainty into markets, and sparked fear of a nuclear showdown. The WSJ’s Shelby Holliday takes a look back at the week. Photo: AP

Yet Mr. Trump has explicitly made the connection. This was the grand bargain he dangled to Mr. Xi: help me on North Korea and I’ll go easy on trade. He’s rapidly losing patience, though. “Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade” Mr. Trump tweeted, “yet they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk.”

That’s been the U.S. complaint for years. Now, North Korea is on the point of perfecting intercontinental ballistic missiles able to strike the U.S. mainland.

And mercantilist policies, like forced technology transfers, have become an integral part of China’s state-led industrial model, imperiling America’s long-term economic prospects.

We’re moving toward a climax on two fronts in a crisis atmosphere.

To be sure, Mr. Trump is acting cautiously and deliberately, despite heated rhetoric. An investigation into alleged Chinese trade abuses could take up to a year, leaving ample room for compromise.

On North Korea, he has stressed the need for cooperation, although his threat to unleash “fire and fury” against North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un was as much intended to scare Beijing into action as to rattle the Korean dictator.

Some think Mr. Trump is deploying Nixonian “Madman Theory” to make Chinese leaders believe he is crazy enough to unleash chaos on their doorstep. In a phone call last week, Mr. Xi urged Mr. Trump to “avoid words and deeds that increase tensions.”

A nightmare for Beijing is a North Korean collapse that brings U.S. troops pouring across the 38th parallel, running into Chinese forces headed in the opposite direction to impose order, prevent a refugee wave and secure “loose nukes.”

Avoiding worst-case scenarios is a challenge as great as any the U.S. and China have facedsince diplomatic normalization in 1979.

Henry Kissinger, an architect of that breakthrough, writes in The Wall Street Journal that instead of subcontracting to Beijing the task of achieving American objectives on North Korea, the only feasible approach is “to merge the two efforts and develop a common position.”

But the gap between Beijing and Washington remains immense.

Hours ahead of Mr. Trump’s announcement on trade, Beijing said it would start implementing bans on coal, iron ore, seafood and other products. But it won’t go so far as to cut off fuel and food supplies.

When it comes to trade, Beijing brought so little to the table during the first round of formal talks with the Trump administration they broke up with no joint statements, action plans or even a press conference. The implication is that China feels no sense of urgency, nor does it fear a showdown.

Write to Andrew Browne at


The China Growth Slowdown Has Arrived

August 14, 2017

Economic data showed investment and industrial growth weakening sharply


Aug. 14, 2017 1:48 a.m. ET


After a year of positive surprises, the specter of a China slowdown is back.

During the first half of 2017, deflation was banished, debt defaults slowed, and growth rebounded.

Nonetheless, China watchers have long warned that tighter credit would eventually mean slowing growth again. This month, the first real evidence of that arrived: China’s official purchasing managers index was sharply lower than expected, and July industrial-production and retail-sales data released Monday were the weakest since February. Investment growth was the weakest since December.

A worker at the construction site in China, where industrial-production growth has slowed.
A worker at the construction site in China, where industrial-production growth has slowed. PHOTO: YU FANGPING/ZUMA PRESS

The slowdown may catch some investors off guard. After buoyant second-quarter data, sentiment on China is at its most bullish in years. China growth plays like miners and construction-equipment firms will probably sell off on the news. But the very gradual ramp down in credit growth—far softer than in previous tightening cycles—still likely means a moderate, rather than drastic, economic slowdown in the closing months of 2017.

The weakness revealed by Monday’s numbers was broad-based—with the notable exception of the steel sector, where growth continues to accelerate in the wake of capacity cuts, which have helped to boost margins. Real estate and infrastructure investment both weakened, with the former growing at its slowest pace since June 2016. Growth in China’s massive information-technology sector—a good indicator of export strength—also slowed, in line with July’s PMI, which showed growth in new export orders weakening abruptly.

Combined with the weak retail-sales data, this isn’t encouraging news. There are, however, two big reasons to expect a mild rather than sharp slowdown. The first and most important is credit growth, which nearly always leads the overall growth trajectory in China. Here the news is good: In contrast to past tightening cycles in 2010 and 2013, the slowdown in credit growth has been quite mild. Growth in total debt-and-equity finance outstanding for households and nonfinancial firms, including local government bonds, has only slowed by around 2 to 3 percentage points since its early 2016 peak. By contrast, at this point in the previous tightening cycle, credit growth had already slowed by nearly 6 percentage points. Inflation has also been higher than expected, which means real borrowing costs for firms—and debt risks—remain contained for now.


The other reason for optimism is the political calendar. China is about to hold a key Communist Party meeting this fall to select its next generation of leaders. President Xi Jinping and his allies want slower growth and lower leverage, but they don’t want a dramatic drop at such a sensitive time.

The odds remain good that 2018, rather than late 2017, will be the year when China worries start to plague markets again. But investors should still expect some volatility in the days ahead as markets digest the first clear signs of stumbling growth in China this year.

Write to Nathaniel Taplin at



Top U.S. General to Meet South Korean Leader Amid Tensions

August 13, 2017


By Heejin Kim

August 13, 2017, 2:27 AM EDT August 13, 2017, 5:00 AM EDT
  • Dunford to meet South Korean President Moon on Monday
  • Visit follows week of threats by Pyongyang and Washington
Joseph Dunford Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The U.S.’s top general plans to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday, just days after his counterpart Donald Trump said military options against North Korea were “locked and loaded.”

General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, will meet with senior military officials along with Moon, according to an official with South Korea’s Blue House who asked not to be identified. He will head to China next on the previously scheduled visit, Yonhap News Agency reported, citing an unidentified military official.

Dunford’s Asia visit comes as fears grow that a war of words between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will lead to a miscalculation that sparks an actual military conflict. In a call with Trump on Saturday in Asia, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for all sides to maintain restraint and avoid inflammatory comments.

The U.S. Pacific Command referred all questions on Dunford’s schedule to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Nobody at the office picked up the phone after regular working hours. A tweet from the joint chiefs on Sunday showed him arriving at Yokota Air Base in Japan.

The U.S. hasn’t taken any public steps to prepare for hostilities such as evacuating Americans from Seoul, which is within range of North Korean artillery, or moving ships, aircraft or troops into position for an imminent response. The U.S. has about 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea.

Read more on signs that a war may be coming

Following Trump’s vow to unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea, Kim’s regime threatened to fire four Hwasong-12 missiles over Japan into waters near Guam, home to U.S. military bases in the region. The U.S. and its allies warned Kim against such a move, and Japan deployed four Patriot missile interceptors into the western part of the country.

Some analysts expect further escalation in the coming days as both North and South Korea celebrate the Aug. 15 anniversary of the end of Japan’s occupation of the Korean peninsula, and the latter conducts joint military exercises with the U.S. from Aug. 21. Japan is also holding annual military drills with the U.S. over the next few weeks.

North Korea’s state-run media on Sunday condemned the planned military drills and said the U.S. is “letting out dangerous war rhetoric.” The Korean Central News Agency added that Trump’s “wild remarks” are causing concern and anger in South Korea.

Moon’s administration has pushed to start talks with North Korea even while looking to strengthen its defenses after North Korea test-fired two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July. On Sunday, Deputy Unification Minister Chun Haesung said South Korea was seeking to ease tensions and the door for dialogue with North Korea was still open.

‘Die Over There’

Recent comments from Trump have raised concerns that the U.S. would be willing to accept collateral damage among its Asian allies to protect the American homeland.

Dunford said last month that it was “unimaginable” to allow North Korea to develop the capability to strike a U.S. city with a nuclear weapon. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican, told NBC News that Trump told him that “if thousands die, they’re going to die over there.”

More recently, Defense Secretary James Mattis has sought to reassure U.S. partners in the region. He said on Thursday that the U.S. works closely with its allies to ensure that any military response wouldn’t be unilateral, warning that the impact of a conflict “would be catastrophic.”

Trump has continued to take an aggressive tone on North Korea. On Friday, Trump said that if Kim makes any “overt threat” or strike at a U.S. territory or ally “he will truly regret it and he will regret it fast.” Trump also said the U.S. was considering tighter sanctions against North Korea.

China Pressure

“Hopefully it will all work out,” he told reporters in Bedminster, New Jersey. “Nobody loves a peaceful solution better than President Trump.”

China, North Korea’s main benefactor, agreed to harsh United Nations sanctions earlier this month even while calling on all sides to take a step back and negotiate a solution. Beijing is reluctant to put so much pressure on the regime that it risks collapse, in part to avoid a scenario that could lead to a unified Korea and push U.S. troops right up to China’s border.

Trump has sought to pressure China to do more by linking action on North Korea to better trade terms. On Monday, he plans to take steps that will increase pressure on China over what the U.S. perceives to be theft of intellectual property.

Trump’s posture suggested he was trying to dissuade Kim from further provocations rather than setting the stage for a U.S. military strike, according to Terence Roehrig, a national security affairs professor at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport.

“The president’s rhetoric could be aimed at China, but largely it is aimed at North Korea, trying to deter,” Roehrig said. “North Koreans are not suicidal. They may continue launching missile tests but they don’t want a war, and the U.S. doesn’t want military action either.”

— With assistance by Yuan Gao, Janet Ong, Reinie Booysen, Heejin Kim, Nafeesa Syeed, Kenneth Pringle, Min Jeong Lee, and Takashi Amano

Trump Eyes China Sanctions While Seeking Its Help on North Korea

August 13, 2017

BEIJING — In a diplomatic gamble, President Trump is seeking to enlist China as a peacemaker in the bristling nuclear-edged dispute with North Korea at the very moment he plans to ratchet up conflict with Beijing over trade issues that have animated his political rise.

Mr. Trump spoke late Friday with his counterpart, President Xi Jinping of China, to press the Chinese to do more to rein in North Korea as it races toward development of long-range nuclear weapons that could reach the United States. Mr. Xi sought to lower the temperature after Mr. Trump’s vow to rain down “fire and fury” on North Korea, urging restraint and a political solution.

But the conversation came as Mr. Trump’s administration was preparing new trade action against China that could inflame the relationship. Mr. Trump plans to return to Washington on Monday to sign a memo determining whether China should be investigated for intellectual property violations, accusing Beijing of failing to curb the theft of trade secrets and rampant online and physical piracy and counterfeiting. An investigation would be intended to lead to retaliatory measures.

The White House had planned to take action on intellectual property earlier but held off as it successfully lobbied China to vote at the United Nations Security Council for additional sanctions on North Korea a week ago. Even now, the extra step of determining whether to start the investigation is less than trade hawks might have wanted, but softens the blow to China and gives Mr. Trump a cudgel to hold over it if he does not get the cooperation he wants.

While past presidents have tried at least ostensibly to keep security and economic issues on separate tracks in their dealings with China, Mr. Trump has explicitly linked the two, suggesting he would back off from a trade war against Beijing if it does more to pressure North Korea. “If China helps us, I feel a lot differently toward trade, a lot differently toward trade,” he told reporters on Thursday.

Mr. Trump has sought to leverage trade and North Korea with China for months, initially expressing optimism after hosting Mr. Xi at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, only to later grow discouraged that Beijing was not following through. The effort has now reached a decisive point with the overt threats of American military action against North Korea — warnings clearly meant for Beijing’s ears.

China is widely seen as critical to any resolution to the nuclear crisis because of its outsize role as North Korea’s main economic benefactor. China accounts for as much as 90 percent of North Korea’s total trade and supplies most of its food and energy while serving as the primary purchaser of its minerals, seafood and garments.

But even though the effectiveness of the new United Nations sanctions depends largely on China’s willingness to enforce them, the Trump administration so far has failed to come up with enough incentives to compel China to do so, analysts said.

In their phone conversation on Friday night, Mr. Xi stressed that it was “very important” for the two leaders to maintain contact to find “an appropriate solution to the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula,” according to a statement carried in the Chinese state-run media. The language indicated China wants to push forward with a diplomatic proposal for North Korea that the Trump administration has brushed aside.

The Chinese statement urged the “relevant sides” — a reference to North Korea and the United States — to “avoid words and actions that exacerbate tensions.” It did not explicitly criticize North Korea, which issued its own searing rhetoric all week, including a threat against Guam, and did not draw a clear distinction between Washington and Pyongyang.

In its own account of the call, the White House emphasized points of concurrence. “President Trump and President Xi agreed North Korea must stop its provocative and escalatory behavior,” read a statement from the White House issued early Saturday morning. “The presidents also reiterated their mutual commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

If Mr. Trump was trying to move Mr. Xi toward bolder action against the North, he did so while the Chinese leader is preoccupied with his own domestic political machinations, attending to a once-every-five-year political shake-up in the top ranks of the Communist Party.

Mr. Xi is believed to be at the beach resort at Beidaihe on the coast east of Beijing, where the leadership conducts a secretive retreat every summer, sometimes emerging casually dressed in open neck shirts and Windbreakers for photographs on the strip of sand along the beachfront.

The final stages of the political process to win Mr. Xi’s favor for a place on the standing committee of the party, now a seven-member body that makes the final decisions on the nation’s affairs, is underway among the resort’s villas and hotels, China’s political analysts said.

The selection will be unveiled at a national congress in Beijing sometime between September and November. Until then, almost all other matters, including foreign policy, are put on hold, the analysts said.

Still, the leadership has been vexed that the Trump administration has paid scant attention to China’s proposal for a “freeze for freeze” solution to North Korea. Described many times by China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, the notion calls for North Korea to freeze its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program at current levels in exchange for the United States drawing down military exercises off the Korean Peninsula.

So far, the United States has dismissed the proposal as a nonstarter. Instead, to China’s irritation, the United States is looking to increase missile defenses in South Korea. In some respects, though, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson has tried to please Beijing by pledging that Washington does not seek to overthrow the North Korean leader, and does not plan to send American troops north of the 38th parallel that divides North and South Korea.

Mr. Xi is said to be exasperated with Kim Jong-un, a leader much his junior, whom he openly disparaged during his meetings in Florida in April with Mr. Trump, American officials say. But despite the frustration with Mr. Kim, China still prefers to have what it considers a relatively stable North Korea under Mr. Kim rather than a collapsed state that could result in a united Korean Peninsula on its border, with American troops in control.

In rebuffing the “freeze for freeze” proposal, Washington has raised suspicions in Beijing about its true intentions, said Yun Sun, a China expert at the Stimson Center in Washington. Chinese leaders believe the United States sees its true rival as China, a mammoth economy, and not North Korea, one of the poorest countries on earth, Ms. Sun said. In this estimation, Washington is merely using North Korea to mount a military containment strategy around China, she said.

“The Chinese operate from the conviction that China remains and will always be the No. 1 strategic threat to the U.S., so the issue of North Korea will be used against China — through sanctions, provocations and everything else,” she said. China was also annoyed, Ms. Sun said, that the United States refuses to discuss a “grand bargain” or “end game” on the future of the Korean Peninsula. Of most interest to China, she said, is the future disposition of American forces in South Korea, now standing at 28,500 troops.

The phone conversation between Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi will be followed by a visit from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., who is expected in Beijing on Monday. General Dunford will also visit South Korea and Japan.

The general’s visit, planned earlier this summer, is the first by a senior American official to Beijing since Mr. Tillerson met with Mr. Xi in March.

Much of the diplomacy between China and the United States has been conducted between Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and the Chinese ambassador in Washington, Cui Tiankai. Those talks have concentrated on Mr. Cui’s efforts to stave off punishing trade tariffs against China that are gathering momentum in White House discussions.

During his two-day visit, General Dunford is likely to use the opportunity to drive home arguments for the Chinese to put more pressure on the Kim government, said Brian McKeon, who was a senior Pentagon official in the Obama administration.

A major point of dispute will likely be American plans to deploy more missile defenses in South Korea, he said. China vehemently opposes the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, or Thaad, that has already been deployed in South Korea, calling it a threat to its own security.

“I would expect that Dunford will make the usual request that they put more pressure on the regime to behave, and to recognize that Kim’s actions threatens our core interests, which means we will have to continue to take measures that Beijing doesn’t like, for example the deployment of Thaad,” Mr. McKeon said.

China’s Xi Jinping: Is the writing of his political thinking into the party Constitution the next step?

August 12, 2017

By Goh Sui Noi
The Straits Times

Enshrining his political thinking in party ideology would further enhance his status

For some days now, President Xi Jinping and some key top leaders of China have been absent from the prime-time news bulletin of the state-run China Central Television.

The word is that they have converged on the seaside resort of Beidaihe, 280km east of the capital, for their annual summer confab.

This year’s event is special in that it precedes the Chinese Communist Party’s five-yearly national congress, slated to take place in autumn, where several of the party’s top leaders are expected to step down in favour of younger cadres.

But with Mr Xi’s grip on power stronger than ever, he is expected to have his way in appointing mainly his coterie to positions in the 25-member Politburo and the apex seven-member Politburo standing committee.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, suit and closeup

Instead, the buzz among the chattering classes is whether Mr Xi’s status will be enhanced further through the writing of his political thinking into the party Constitution.

This follows his elevation to the status of “core” leader in October last year at a central committee meeting that cemented his consolidation of power. He had taken over the party reins at the 18th party congress in 2012.

Recent comments by political heavyweights on the need for Mr Xi’s political thoughts to be diligently studied and put into practice have been seen as signals that these would be written into the party charter at the upcoming 19th congress.

The latest remarks inferred as a sign come from Beijing party chief Cai Qi, a protege of Mr Xi, in an article in the party newspaper People’s Daily on Monday. Mr Cai wrote about persisting in using “General Secretary Xi’s important thought as a banner to lead the way”.

Last month, State Councillor Yang Jiechi, who oversees foreign affairs, wrote about studying and implementing “General Secretary Xi Jinping’s thought on diplomacy in a deep-going way” in an article in a party magazine, Qiushi.

This thinking, he wrote, represents the central committee’s “new governing philosophy and strategy as they apply to diplomacy, and is an integral part of the theories of socialism with distinctive Chinese features”.

In the same month, an editorial in another party journal, Dangjian Yanjiu or Research On Party Building, said: “The innovative theories since the Party’s 18th National Congress, which can be called Xi Jinping Thoughts, are the new result of localising Marxism in China and developing the Socialist Theory with Chinese Characteristics.”

The piece called Mr Xi’s thinking the most vibrant form of Marxism seen in modern China.

There were already inklings that the formulation of Mr Xi’s political thinking was under way at the March meetings of the Chinese Parliament, the National People’s Congress, and the top political advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

The Xinhua state news agency published a piece then titled China’s Two Sessions To Highlight Xi’s Thoughts. It said: “Xi’s governance thoughts, ranging from economic and social reform to foreign affairs and military transformation, have been greatly influencing the country’s course.”

It quoted an analyst as saying “Xi’s thoughts on state governance will be more clear-cut” through the March meetings.

If what is written into the party charter is described as Xi Jinping Thought, then Mr Xi would become only the third Chinese leader to have his name included in his “banner term” or qizhiyu.

The other two are communist China’s founding father Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, who set China on the path to pragmatism and prosperity with his reform and opening-up programme in 1978.

Mr Xi’s two predecessors, Mr Jiang Zemin and Mr Hu Jintao, did not have their names in their banner terms. Mr Jiang’s Three Represents, encompassing entrepreneurs hitherto excluded from the party, was written into the party charter in 2002 as he was stepping down. Mr Hu’s Scientific Outlook On Development, about building a socialist harmonious society, was added to the party Constitution midway through the leader’s term in 2007.

The formulation of Mr Xi’s banner term as Xi Jinping Thought would also place him next to Mao – whose banner term is Mao Zedong Thought – and ahead of Deng and his Deng Xiaoping Theory as “theory” stands below “thought” in China, according to analysts.

However, political analyst Wang Zhengxu of Fudan University in Shanghai suggested that the banner term might also take a phrasing without Mr Xi’s name in it, such as Theory Of Socialism With Chinese Characteristics.

As for why the writing of Mr Xi’s political thinking into the party Constitution is being done, Professor Wang thinks it is a way through which Mr Xi could realise his mission. “He has put forth a vision and a set of masterplans and action plans, and wants to see them materialise,” said Prof Wang.

He added that it is also because of a belief that, after 40 years of development since the 1980s, a “coherent and comprehensive theoretical-ideological framework” is needed to guide the party and the country’s development.

What this move would signify, said Hong Kong-based analyst Willy Lam, is that while Mr Xi might have his enemies, at this stage, there is nobody who can challenge him politically.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2017, with the headline ‘Xi’s political thoughts may enter party charter soon’.

Xi speaks with Trump, urges calm

August 12, 2017
FILE – This combination of file photos shows U.S. President Donald Trump on March 28, 2017, in Washington, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Feb. 22, 2017, in Beijing. Trump is suggesting ahead of his two-day meeting starting Thursday, April 6, 2017 with Xi that with or without Beijing’s help, he can “totally” handle North Korea, but his solution would have to be pretty clever. AP/Files

Chinese state media say President Xi Jinping, in a call with President Donald Trump, said all sides should avoid rhetoric or action that would worsen tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

China Central Television on Saturday cited Xi as saying that Beijing and Washington are both interested in the denuclearization of the peninsula.

The report quotes Xi as saying: “At present, the relevant parties must maintain restraint and avoid words and deeds that would exacerbate the tension on the Korean Peninsula.”

Trump has pushed China to pressure North Korea to halt a nuclear weapons program that is nearing the capability of targeting the United States. China is the North’s biggest economic partner and source of aid, but says it alone can’t compel Pyongyang to end its nuclear and missile programs.


11:55 p.m.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he will do everything he can to protect the Japanese people as tensions escalate over North Korean plans to send missiles flying over Japan toward Guam.

Abe says: “I will do everything, to the best of my ability, to protect the safety and property of the Japanese people.”

He made comments Saturday while visiting his father’s tomb in his ancestral hometown of Nagato in western Japan.

On Friday, the Defense Ministry said it was deploying four of Japan’s surface-to-air Patriot interceptors in western Japan to respond to a possible risk of fragments falling from missiles.

The ministry did not confirm whether Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera has already issued an order to shoot down incoming missiles.


10:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump has issued fresh threats of swift and forceful retaliation against nuclear North Korea, declaring the U.S. military “locked and loaded” and warning that the communist country’s leader “will regret it fast” if he takes any action against U.S. territories or allies.

The president appeared to draw another red line that would trigger a U.S. attack against North Korea and “big, big trouble” for its leader, Kim Jong Un. Trump’s comments, however, do not appear to be backed by significant military mobilization on either side of the Pacific, and an important, quiet diplomatic channel remains open.

Asked Firday if the U.S. was going to war, he said cryptically, “I think you know the answer to that.”


4:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump says German Chancellor Angela Merkel does not speak for the U.S. on North Korea.

Merkel has said of Trump’s provocative warnings to the communist nation that “escalating the rhetoric is the wrong answer.”

Trump on Friday replied: “Let her speak for Germany,” adding, “She’s certainly not referring to the United States.”

The U.S. president’s warnings that Pyongyang will “regret” any threats or action against the U.S. are a break with the diplomatic language of his predecessors. But Trump said Friday that millions of Americans support their president “sticking up” for the U.S. and its allies.


3:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump says his critics are only complaining about his tough rhetoric on North Korea “because it’s me.”

He says days of grave threats to the communist country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, would be welcomed as “a great statement” if “somebody else” uttered them.

Trump adds that millions of Americans support his words because “finally we have a president that’s sticking up for our nation and frankly sticking up for our friends and our allies.”


3:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump says North Korea’s leader will “regret it fast” if he threatens or acts against Guam, or any other U.S. territory or ally.

Trump says tens of millions of Americans support his tough position on North Korea’s nuclear threat.

Following days of grave threats to North Korea, Trump directed his latest warning Friday directly to the communist country’s leader, Kim Jong Un.


1:10 p.m.

An escalating exchange of provocative rhetoric between the United States and North Korea is alarming international leaders. Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, estimated the risk of a military conflict between the U.S. and North Korea as “very high,” and said Moscow is deeply concerned.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel declined to say whether Germany would stand with the U.S. in case of a military conflict with North Korea. She called on the U.N. Security Council to continue to address the issue.

Japan has started deploying land-based Patriot interceptors after North Korea threatened to send ballistic missiles flying over western Japan and landing near Guam.

Meanwhile, American and South Korean officials said they would move forward with large-scale military exercises later this month that North Korea claims are a rehearsal for war.


12:45 p.m.

A Democratic congressman is urging House Speaker Paul Ryan to reconvene the House from its summer recess to consider legislation prohibiting a pre-emptive nuclear strike against North Korea.

Rep. David Cicilline (sihs-ihl-EE’-nee) of Rhode Island, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, says that in light of President Donald Trump’s “reckless words” threatening North Korea, the House should immediately take up legislation barring a pre-emptive nuclear strike without prior congressional authorization.

Cicilline said Trump “has made a dangerous situation even worse by recklessly asserting that the United States is ‘locked and loaded’ to bring ‘fire and fury’ to North Korea.”

Cicilline said Trump’s bellicose language against North Korea has raised alarms around the world, adding that “if the president will not defuse this situation, then Congress must.”


11:20 a.m.

Japan has started deploying land-based Patriot interceptors after North Korea threatened to send ballistic missiles flying over western Japan and landing near Guam.

The Defense Ministry said Friday the PAC-3 surface-to-air interceptors are being deployed at four locations: Hiroshima, Kochi, Shimane and Ehime.

The deployment is largely aimed at responding to the risk of falling fragments while missiles fly over the region.

The four PAC-3 systems are brought from eastern Japan, as its missile defense is largely centered around Tokyo. They are expected to arrive in the designated sites early Saturday.

The ministry did not confirm whether Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera has already issued an order to shoot down incoming missiles.


9:35 a.m.

Russia’s foreign minister says the risk of a military conflict between the U.S. and North Korea is “very high.”

Sergey Lavrov said Friday that Russia is strongly worried about escalating rhetoric coming from Pyongyang and Washington. He added that “when it comes close to fight, the one who is stronger and wiser should be the first to step back from the brink.”

Asked how Moscow would act in case of a military conflict between the U.S. and the North, Lavrov answered it would do everything it could to prevent the worst-case scenario.

Lavrov said Russia doesn’t accept the North’s nuclear weapons bid and pointed at a proposal by China and Russia under which Pyongyang would freeze its nuclear and missile tests while the U.S. and South Korea would halt their military drills.


9:15 a.m.

Despite tensions and talk of war, life on the streets of the North Korean capital Pyongyang remains calm.

There are no air raid drills or cars in camouflage netting as was the case during previous crises. State-run media ensures that the population gets the North Korean side of the story, but doesn’t convey any sense of international concern about the situation.

North Koreans have lived for decades with the state media message that war is imminent, the U.S. is to blame and their country is ready to defend itself.

At a park in central Pyongyang Friday evening, young people practiced volleyball and grandparents and parents watched children on climbing frames and swings.


9 a.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she doesn’t see a military solution to rising tensions between the United States and North Korea and called for a de-escalation of the rhetoric.

Asked Friday about U.S. President Donald Trump’s latest statements, Merkel declined to say whether Germany would stand with the U.S. in case of a military conflict with North Korea. She said, “I don’t see a military solution and I don’t think it’s called for.”

Merkel called on the U.N. Security Council to continue to address the issue. She says Germany would work to find diplomatic solutions with the countries involved, the U.S. and China in particular, but also South Korea.

She added: “I think escalating the rhetoric is the wrong answer.”

Earlier this week, Trump said the U.S. would slam the North with “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it provoked America again.


8 a.m.

President Donald Trump is warning of military action “should North Korea act unwisely.”

Trump tweeted: “Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!”

North Korea has announced a detailed plan to launch a salvo of ballistic missiles toward the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, a major military hub and home to U.S. bombers. If carried out, it would be its most provocative missile launch to date.

Trump said this week the U.S. would unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea if it continued to threaten the U.S.

China should be ‘neutral’ if N. Korea strikes US: state-run daily

August 11, 2017


© AFP/File | China — which has been accused by the US of not doing enough to rein in its longtime ally — has maintained that political dialogue is the only solution
BEIJING (AFP) – A Chinese state-run newspaper called on Beijing on Friday to “stay neutral” if North Korea strikes first in a conflict with the United States, despite a mutual defence pact between the Asian allies.The nationalistic Global Times tabloid said in an editorial that Washington and Pyongyang were playing a “reckless game” that could lead to “miscalculations and a strategic ‘war'”.

“Beijing is not able to persuade Washington or Pyongyang to back down at this time,” the Global Times said.

“It needs to make clear its stance to all sides and make them understand that when their actions jeopardize China’s interests, China will respond with a firm hand.”

The commentary came after Washington warned North Korea this week it faced “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it continued to threaten the US with its missile and nuclear programmes.

That prompted a defiant Pyongyang to threaten a missile attack on Guam, a tiny US territory in the Pacific that is home to major US air and naval facilities.

China — which has been accused by the US of not doing enough to rein in its longtime ally — has maintained that political dialogue is the only solution.

China fought alongside the North in the 1950-53 Korean War and the two nations signed a mutual defence pact in 1961, but the Global Times suggested Beijing should remain on the sidelines if Pyongyang launches the first salvo in a new conflict with the United States.

“China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten US soil first and the US retaliates, China will stay neutral,” the editorial said.

“If the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.”

Chinese quantum satellite sends ‘unbreakable’ code — But World’s Leading Physicist Says Quantum Computers Are “Tools of Destruction, Not Creation”

August 10, 2017


AUGUST 10, 2017 / 12:15 AM

BEIJING (Reuters) – China has sent an “unbreakable” code from a satellite to the Earth, marking the first time space-to-ground quantum key distribution technology has been realized, state media said on Thursday.

China launched the world’s first quantum satellite last August, to help establish “hack proof” communications, a development the Pentagon has called a “notable advance”.

The official Xinhua news agency said the latest experiment was published in the journal Nature on Thursday, where reviewers called it a “milestone”.

The satellite sent quantum keys to ground stations in China between 645 km (400 miles) and 1,200 km (745 miles) away at a transmission rate up to 20 orders of magnitude more efficient than an optical fiber, Xinhua cited Pan Jianwei, lead scientist on the experiment from the state-run Chinese Academy of Sciences, as saying.

“That, for instance, can meet the demand of making an absolute safe phone call or transmitting a large amount of bank data,” Pan said.

Image result for China, quantum, satellites, art, photos

Any attempt to eavesdrop on the quantum channel would introduce detectable disturbances to the system, Pan said.

“Once intercepted or measured, the quantum state of the key will change, and the information being intercepted will self-destruct,” Xinhua said.

The news agency said there were “enormous prospects” for applying this new generation of communications in defense and finance.

China still lags behind the United States and Russia in space technology, although President Xi Jinping has prioritized advancing its space program, citing national security and defense.

China insists its space program is for peaceful purposes, but the U.S. Defense Department has highlighted its increasing space capabilities, saying it was pursuing activities aimed at preventing adversaries from using space-based assets in a crisis.

Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Michael Perry


World’s Leading Physicist Says Quantum Computers Are “Tools of Destruction, Not Creation”

by Patrick Caughill on August 9, 2017

Weapon of Mass Disruption

Quantum Computers are heralded as the next step in the evolution of data processing. The future of this technology promises us a tool that can outperform any conventional system, handling more data and at faster speeds than even the most powerful of today’s supercomputers.

However, at the present juncture, much of the science dedicated to this field is still focused on the technology’s ultimate utilization. We know that quantum computers could manage data at a rate that is remarkable, but exactly what kind of data processing will they be good for?

This uncertainty raises some interesting questions about the potential impact of such a theoretically powerful tool.

No encryption existing today would be able to hide from the processing power of a functioning quantum computer.

Last month, some of the leading names in quantum technologies gathered at the semi-annual International Conference on Quantum Technologies in Moscow. Futurism was in attendance and was able to sit and talk with some of these scientists about how their work is moving us closer to practical quantum computers, and what impact such developments will have on society.

One of the most interesting topics of discussion was initiated by Alexander Lvovsky, Quantum Optics group leader at the Russian Quantum Center and Professor of Physics at the University of Calgary in Canada. Speaking at a dinner engagement, Lvovsky stated that quantum computers are a tool of destruction, not creation.

What is it about quantum computers that would incite such a claim? In the end, it comes down to one thing, which happens to be one of the most talked about potential applications for the technology: Breaking modern cryptography.

With Great Power…

Today, all sensitive digital information sent over the internet is encrypted in order to protect the privacy of the parties involved. Already, we have seen instances where hackers were able to seize this information by breaking the encryption. According to Lvovsky, the advent of the quantum computer will only make that process easier and faster.

In fact, he asserts that no encryption existing today would be able to hide from the processing power of a functioning quantum computer. Medical records, financial information, even the secrets of governments and military organizations would be free for the taking—meaning that the entire world order could be threatened by this technology.

The consensus between other experts is, essentially, that Lvovsky isn’t wrong. “In a sense, he’s right,” Wenjamin Rosenfeld, a physics professor at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, stated in an interview. He continued, “taking a quantum computer as a computer, there’s basically not much you can do with this at the moment;” however, he went on to explain that this may soon be changing.

To break this down, there are only two quantum algorithms at the moment, one to allow a quantum computer to search a database, and the other, Shor’s algorithm, which can be used by a quantum computer to break encryption.

Notably, during the conference, Mikhail Lukin, a co-founder of the Russian Quantum Center and head of the Lukin Group of the Quantum Optics Laboratory at Harvard University, announced that he had successfully built and tested a 51-qubit quantum computer…and he’s going to use that computer to launch Shor’s algorithm.

Vladimir Shalaev, who sits on the International Advisory Board of the Russian Quantum Center and is a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University, takes a more nuanced approach to this question, saying it is neither a tool of destruction nor creation—it is both: “I would disagree with him. I think I would say that any new breakthrough breeds both evil and good things.”

Quantum computers may not be capable of the physical destruction of a nuclear bomb, but their potential application is the digital equivalent.

He evoked the development of laser technology as an example, saying, “Lasers changed our lives with communications, surgery, their use in machinery, but they are also used in missiles to destroy buildings. But I think this is life. Nothing comes with only good, there is always bad as well. So I don’t think it is just a destructive technology, it could also be a constructive one.”

There is a great deal of truth to Shalaev’s assessment. Nuclear technology was primarily developed as a destructive tool. After the war, many more positive applications were found, impacting energy, medicine, and agriculture, among many other fields. Quantum computers may not be capable of the physical destruction of a nuclear bomb, but their potential application in relation to encryption is the digital equivalent, making this topic worthy of reflection in these early stages.

What Good May Come?

So, if quantum computers do have such dangerous potential, why are we pursuing them? As Lukin expounds, there are other potential applications outside of encryption breaking, applications that many experts are excited about.

For example, Lukin sees enormous potential in quantum sensors. “It has the potential to change the field of medical diagnostics, where some of the tasks which require huge labs can be performed on the scale of an iPhone. Imagine the implications for third world countries in parts of the world like Africa. It can really allow to diagnose and treat patients. I think there’s actually a huge impact on society,” he explained.

Also, the processing power of quantum computers could push research in artificial intelligence (AI) forward by leaps and bounds. Indeed, it could assist this field to such a degree that AI could be a part of the answer to the problem proposed by Lvovsky. To that end, Lukins asserts, “I’m fairly convinced that, before quantum computers start breaking encryption, we will have new classical encryption, we will have new schemes based on quantum computers, based on quantum cryptography, which will be operational.”

Much like lasers or nuclear weapons, the scientists involved in creating quantum computers are unable to predict the total utility of this technology. There very well could be a host of world changing applications for quantum computers. Still, even with just considering the encryption busting potential of the technology, we must remain cognizant of the power we are unleashing.

China warns against stoking Korea tensions after Trump ‘fury’ remarks

August 9, 2017



© AFP/File | China, Pyongyang’s traditional ally and biggest trading partner, has long called for the United States and North Korea to exercise restraint in the impasse and seek a negotiated solution that would de-nuclearise its secretive neighbour

BEIJING (AFP) – China responded to US President Donald Trump’s apocalyptic “fire and fury” threat against North Korea by pointedly warning on Wednesday against any rhetoric that could inflame tensions over Pyongyang’s weapons programmes.Calling the situation on the Korean Peninsula “complicated and sensitive”, China’s foreign ministry issued a statement warning that parties involved in the impasse should avoid “words and actions that escalate the situation”.

The ministry had been asked to respond to Trump’s comment on Tuesday that North Korea would “be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it did not refrain from further bellicose threats against the United States.

Trump’s warning came as Pyongyang said it was considering a missile strike near the US territory of Guam and after US media reported North Korea may have successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead, considered a key step in becoming a full nuclear power.

Trump’s words marked a sharp intensification of Washington’s rhetoric over the North’s nuclear and missile programmes, which saw a seventh set of United Nations sanctions imposed on it at the weekend, and appeared to echo Pyongyang’s own trademark threats.

Trump’s tone was markedly different to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s assurances last week that Washington was not seeking regime change in Pyongyang.

North Korea raised the stakes just hours after Trump’s warning, saying it was considering missile strikes near US strategic military installations on the Pacific island of Guam.

Once finalised, the plan could be put into action at “any moment” once leader Kim Jong-Un made a decision, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted a military statement as saying.

China, Pyongyang’s traditional ally and biggest trading partner, has long called for the United States and North Korea to exercise restraint in the impasse and seek a negotiated solution that would de-nuclearise its secretive neighbour.

China to grow closer to Asean — “China-Asean Community of Shared Destiny”

August 9, 2017

 / 07:48 AM August 09, 2017

Chinese President Xi Jinping. AP FILE PHOTO

China is ready to bring greater closeness to the China-Asean Community of Shared Destiny to make it an example within the Asian Community of Shared Destiny, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday.

Xi made the pledge when sending congratulations on the 50th anniversary of Asean’s founding in a message to President Rodrigo Duterte, whose country has Asean’s rotating chairmanship this year.

As a sign of the booming ties between China and the 10-country group, China has been Asean’s largest trade partner for eight years.

Their trade amounted to $452.2 billion last year, and currently about 2,700 flights connect China and the 10 countries in every week.

Xi said that since their dialogue partnership was built in 1991, China and Asean have stayed true to cooperation and development, their political mutual trust has deepened and their pragmatic cooperation has seen fruitful outcomes.

“China-Asean ties have become one of the most vigorous and enriched dialogue partnerships of Asean,” Xi added.

READ: China’s pleasant Asean picture

VIDEO : China heralds ‘progress’ made in tackling South China Sea issue

He noted that Asean has played an important role in securing regional peace and stability since its founding half a century ago, and it has become a force that represents the world’s developing multipolar nature.

China expects greater development of the ASsean community, which will contribute more to regional peace, stability and prosperity and better benefit the people of its member countries, Xi said.

As next year marks the 15th anniversary of China and Asean establishing their strategic partnership, Xi said China would like to take the year as an opportunity to appreciate all that has been accomplished and look at what can be done over the long run.

In Manila on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended the grand celebration of Asean’s 50th anniversary along with his counterparts from ASEAN and other nations.

Duterte said, “We seek to engage with our neighbors positively in dialogue partnerships that continue to grow.”

Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano told reporters on Tuesday that “China plays a very positive role” in the region.

“China has shown economic strength … in the last decades, its economy has also fueled our growth in Asean with tourism from China, manufacturing and infrastructure projects,” he said.

In regard to the South China Sea situation, Cayetano said, “All the positive sides China has given to the relationship with Asean will not be disturbed” because of disputes there.

READ: Analysis: US, allies slow Beijing’s South China Sea momentum

“We will not allow this to disturb our good relationships,” he said.

Wang said on Monday night that with the joint efforts of China and Asean countries, the situation in the South China Sea has been stabilized, and pragmatic cooperation has unfolded.

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