Vietnam’s lessons for North Korea | Columns

Vietnam is more than a convenient neutral site for the second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, slated for later this month. The Southeast Asian nation is being held up as a model for what Kim’s isolated country could become if he adopts sweeping market reforms. It’s an especially apt comparison, one Kim himself reportedly noted last year – but not necessarily for the reasons you might think. The choice facing Kim at the Hanoi summit is the same as it’s always been: weapons or…

Why the world shouldn’t expect North Korea to denuclearize

BUSAN, SOUTH KOREA – With the second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un coming up, I was invited to speak last Wednesday at a conference at the International Christian University in Tokyo on North Korea. It was an excellent event, focusing explicitly on cutting through the grandiose rhetoric from the United States and South Korean presidents about North Korea’s denuclearization to determine what the North has actually done since detente started in January 2018. The short answer is very little, and that is…

Lessons of the Japan-S. Korea maritime spat

HAIKOU, CHINA – Several maritime incidents between military assets of U.S. allies Japan and South Korea and their aftermath have disrupted and damaged the Japan-South Korea relationship, and may have broader implications for the geopolitics of the region. How did such relatively minor incidents turn so serious so swiftly? What lessons can be learned that are applicable to other nations that may find themselves in similar situations? In late December, Japan accused a South Korean warship of locking its fire-control radar on one of Japan’s maritime surveillance aircraft overflying the…

Why did Donald Trump announce Vietnam as host of the second North Korea summit?

Updated February 07, 2019 07:02:49 Photo: America’s former foe services a free market economy while retaining communist rule. (ABC News: Doan Tung) During his State of the Union address, President Donald Trump announced that Vietnam would host his second summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un — a move that some pundits view as Hanoi’s bid to buttress itself against encroaching Chinese power. Key points: Vietnam has hosted several international forums in recent years The country presents few security risks for Washington and Pyongyang Washington looks to Vietnam as a case…

As China feuds with the US, don’t expect it to encourage better behaviour from North Korea

Here’s a triangulation that’s rapidly getting more acute: China, North Korea and the United States. It’s not just that China is North Korea’s only real ally, its bulwark of defence since the Korean war. It’s also that China’s differences with the US are deepening with the indictment of its biggest smartphone maker for theft of US trade secrets, industrial espionage and money laundering. And it’s also that the US is looking for ways to make a deal with North Korea that would tone down the hostility dating from the Korean…

The Japan-South Korea Maritime Spat: Lessons Learned 

The confrontation has implications for the rest of Asia, and the United States. By Mark J. Valencia for The Diplomat February 06, 2019 Several maritime incidents between military assets of U.S. allies Japan and South Korea and their aftermath have disrupted and damaged the Japan-South Korea relationship and may have broader implications for the geopolitics of the region. How did such relatively minor incidents turn so serious so swiftly?  What lessons can be learned that are applicable to other nations that may find themselves in similar situations? In late December…

North Korea accused by UN of illegally selling fishing rights to Chinese companies, violating sanctions

A UN panel is expected to accuse North Korea of illegally selling fishing rights to other countries – including China – as a means of generating income in contravention of past Security Council resolutions, diplomatic sources said in advance of an upcoming sanctions report. The panel, which tracks violations of sanctions measures against Pyongyang, is expected to show in its annual report that vessels carrying North Korean fishing licences were operating in waters between the Korean peninsula and its neighbouring countries. The claim is based on information provided by two…

South Korea in airborne fight against pollution it blames on China

Seoul on Friday sent aircraft over the Yellow Sea to carry out cloud-seeding experiments in an effort to tackle air pollution many South Koreans blame on China. Air quality in South Korea is generally better than in its giant neighbour, the world’s biggest polluter, which is periodically affected by choking bouts of filthy air and according to the International Energy Agency uses coal to generate around three quarters of its energy. Single minded: forget marriage, South Koreans aren’t even dating Beijing has been seeking to tackle the scourge, which causes…

As China-US rivalry grows, it’s advantage North Korea – and bad news for denuclearisation

US-China rivalry – including a trade war and tensions over Taiwan and South China Sea – is escalating. In October 2018, US Vice President Mike Pence even insinuated that a new Cold War may be underway. Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, has good reasons to exalt at the intensifying G2 rivalry. Great power competition enlarges North Korea’s strategic value and impairs denuclearisation. Locked in a security dilemma with the US, China could diagnose US-led security network in Asia as containment. In turn, this encourages Chinese views to accept…

North Korea May Favour Vietnam-Style Reforms, But Risks Persist

Key View: North Korea is believed to see considerable advantages in emulating Vietnam’s economic reforms, which have brought rapid economic growth while maintaining one-party rule. If North Korea were to embark on Vietnam’s path, it would receive considerable support from China and South Korea. However, unlike North Korea, Vietnam did not have a nuclear programme complicating its relations with the US and regional powers. In addition, it is unclear if North Korea’s Kim regime is willing to be as ideologically flexible as Vietnam. The ongoing impasse in the North Korean…