Top South Korean presidential candidate would review THAAD process: advisers


The Democratic Party’s candidate for the presidential primary Moon Jae-in makes a speech at an event to declare their fair contest in the partyÕs presidential primary in Seoul, South Korea, March 14, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

By Yeganeh Torbati and James Pearson | SEOUL Fri Mar 17, 2017 | 6:19pm EDT

The liberal South Korean politician most likely to become the country’s next president would, if elected, review how the government would deploy an advanced U.S. missile defense system and would consult China, two of his top advisers said on Friday.

If Moon Jae-in, front-runner for the May 9 presidential election, reverses policy on the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system, it will place him at odds with the United States, South Korea’s biggest ally.

The conservative government of impeached president Park Geun-hye agreed to deploy the THAAD to guard against attack by North Korea, but the decision sparked outrage in China, which responded with restrictions on some companies doing business with and in South Korea.

China says the system’s radar can be used to spy into its territory.

Moon would likely “do a review of the validity of the decision”, Choi Jong Kun, an adviser to Moon on foreign policy told Reuters. “While doing it, he will consult with the United States, as well as China.”

“At the end of the day, if the reality unfolds in a way that South Korea’s national security and the economy were damaged because of the THAAD, not because of the North Korea issue, then it’s not really a rational situation, is it?”

The comments are at variance with a tough stand taken by the new U.S. administration on North Korea.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, visiting Seoul for the first time since taking office, said on Friday a U.S. policy of “strategic patience” with North Korea has ended and military action would be “on the table” if North Korea if Pyongyang took action to threaten South Korean and U.S. forces.

Tillerson also said he expected the next South Korean government would “continue to be supportive” of THAAD.

A Pentagon spokesman said THAAD deployment was “a critical measure” to defend South Koreans and U.S. forces against North Korean missiles.

China is South Korea’s largest trading partner and the dispute over THAAD has left shopping districts in Seoul devoid of their usual crowds of Chinese tourists.

In China, the row has led to a freeze of South Korean television dramas and music, and product boycotts.

Moon, a liberal facing little in the way of a significant conservative challenger, said in a debate this week China should stop the economic retaliation and South Korea had to make diplomatic efforts to assuage Chinese anger.

“It’s only right for the THAAD deployment issue to be decided by the next administration,” Moon told foreign media recently.

RAPPROCHEMENT

A 63-year-old human rights lawyer, Moon has said he will extend an olive branch to North Korea if elected and visit Pyongyang before making a trip to the United States.

Just two North-South summits have been held since the 1950-53 Korean war.

Choi said the decision to deploy the THAAD battery had been made hastily. China’s reaction was foreseeable and yet was largely ignored by Park’s government, he said.

“We had a strategic partnership with Beijing, until this THAAD issue,” Choi said. “Our relationship had been pretty OK and pretty good.”

Kim Ki-Jung, another foreign policy adviser to Moon, said he had tried to convince U.S. military officials and diplomats in Washington last month that the deployment of the THAAD should be left to the leader who succeeds Park.

“We are going to acknowledge that two governments made an agreement … but the actual process of deployment, that should be given to the next government,” he said.

Instead, the United States started to deploy the first elements of the system this month, after North Korea fired off four ballistic missiles into the sea off northwest Japan.

Moon has criticized the two former conservative presidents – Park and her predecessor, Lee Myung-bak – for derailing progress made in inter-Korean relations under previous liberal administrations.

He calls for a “two-step” approach on North Korea, with talks leading to “economic unification” and ultimately “political and military unification.”

His viewpoints could spark friction with Washington, but Moon would have no problem distancing South Korea’s interests from those of the United States, Kim said.

“The basic assumption is that we are going to maintain the success of our bilateral alliance,” Kim said.

“We are going to keep it … as long as we admit that South Korea is not the 51st state of the United States. We are an independent country, we have our own national interest, and we should have our own foreign policy strategy.”

(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Robert Birsel and Raju Gopalkrishnan)

Source: Reuters “Top South Korean presidential candidate would review THAAD process: advisers”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


China, Russia to step up opposition to South Korean anti-missile system


China and Russia have agreed to intensify their coordinated opposition to the deployment of a U.S. missile-defense system in South Korea, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

South Korea decided last year to deploy the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in response to the threat from North Korean missiles.

But China and Russia worry that the system’s powerful radar can penetrate their territory and undermine their security, disrupting a balance of power in the region while doing nothing to lower tension on the Korean peninsula.

South Korean officials have said THAAD is a purely defensive measure against North Korean threats and does not target any other country.

“Both sides said they will continue to strengthen their coordinated opposition to THAAD”, the two countries’ deputy foreign ministers agreed on Tuesday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s said in a statement on its website.

China and Russia agreed in January to take unspecified “countermeasures” in response to THAAD.

South Korea’s defense ministry struck a deal this week with an affiliate of the Lotte Group conglomerate to acquire land southeast of the capital, Seoul, for the deployment of the missile system.

The deal sparked protests from China’s state media, which called for a boycott of South Korean cars and telephones and for people to shun its entertainment exports.

South Korean officials have said they expect the missile system to be deployed and operational this year.

North Korea’s drive to develop nuclear weapons and missiles has angered China, the North’s sole major diplomatic and economic supporter.

China has pushed for the resumption of six-party talks involving it, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Russia and the United Sates, on North Korea’s nuclear ambitions as a way to resolve differences.

China has also called for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

(Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Source: Reuters “China, Russia to step up opposition to South Korean anti-missile system”

Note: This is Reuters report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Senior North Korea envoy visits Beijing after China coal ban


Ri Kil Song leaves after a meeting with Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Phnom Penh in this file photo dated February 4, 2015. REUTERS/Samrang Pring

Ri Kil Song leaves after a meeting with Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Phnom Penh in this file photo dated February 4, 2015. REUTERS/Samrang Pring

(This version of the story corrects datline to BEIJING, not SEOUL.)

A senior North Korean diplomat arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for talks, China said, the first such high-level visit since June, after the Asian giant halted coal imports from its impoverished neighbour this month under U.N. sanctions.

North Korea’s main diplomatic ally said it would ban coal imports about a week after the isolated country tested an intermediate-range ballistic missile, for the first time since U.S. President Donald Trump took office.

The North’s Vice Foreign Minister Ri Kil Song arrived in Beijing at the invitation of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and will hold talks with his host, the Chinese foreign ministry said.

“This visit of the North Korean vice foreign minister is normal diplomatic contact and exchange between China and North Korea,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular briefing.

Ri will meet other Chinese diplomats, including vice foreign minister Liu Zhenmin, on the visit set to run until March 4, Geng added.

North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency confirmed the visit.

South Korea’s foreign ministry said it was aware Ri would be travelling to China but did not elaborate, and declined to comment when asked if the visit might be related to the killing of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s estranged half-brother.

Before he was killed at the Kuala Lumpur airport on Feb. 13, Kim Jong Nam lived quietly in the Asian gambling hub of Macau, a Chinese territory, avoiding controversy and seemingly relaxed about personal safety, sources close to him have said.

Tuesday’s visit is the first such trip since one in June by Ri Su Yong, a member of the politburo of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party, who met Chinese President Xi Jinping.

It comes in the wake of a rare reproach North Korea issued to China, saying it was “dancing to the tune” of the United States for halting coal imports over the North’s nuclear and missile programmes.

The move aimed to comply with U.N. sanctions imposed after nuclear tests by the North, the latest of which took place in September.

In a Reuters interview, Trump said he welcomed China’s ban, but Beijing could solve the challenge posed by the North “very easily if they want to,” turning up pressure on China to do more.

China later dismissed the renewed pressure from Trump over its role in North Korea, saying the crux of the matter was a dispute between Washington and Pyongyang.

(Reporting by Jack Kim and Ju-min Park in Seoul and Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Source: Reuters “Senior North Korea envoy visits Beijing after China coal ban”

Note: This is Reuters report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Trump, China’s top diplomat, discuss cooperation, possible Xi meeting


By Steve Holland and David Brunnstrom | WASHINGTON Mon Feb 27, 2017 | 7:03pm EST

U.S. President Donald Trump, who has attacked China on issues from trade to the South China Sea, held his first face-to-face talks with a member of the Chinese leadership on Monday, and the White House said it was a chance to discuss shared security interests and a possible meeting with President Xi Jinping.

State Councilor Yang Jiechi, China’s top diplomat, met Trump briefly after talks with the new U.S. National Security adviser, H.R. McMaster, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, and White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.

A senior U.S. administration official said discussions included bilateral cooperation and the possibility of arranging a meeting between Trump and Xi, but no date was set.

The official said the meeting with Trump lasted five to seven minutes.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer called it “an opportunity to say ‘hi’ to the president” before Yang left.

“This was an opportunity to begin that conversation and talk to them on shared interests of national security,” he said at a regular news briefing.

China’s Foreign Ministry cited Yang as telling Trump that China was willing to enhance exchanges with the United States at all levels, expand coordination and cooperation, and respect each others’ core interests and major concerns.

“Ensuring the steady and healthy development of China-U.S. ties will surely benefit both peoples and the world as a whole,” the ministry paraphrased Yang as saying.

Yang, who outranks China’s foreign minister, was the first top Chinese official to visit the White House since Trump took office on Jan. 20.

His visit followed a phone call between Yang and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last week, during which the two affirmed the importance of a constructive U.S.-China relationship.

It was the latest step by the world’s two largest economies to try to put relations back on an even keel after a rocky start following Trump’s election victory.

Trump has been a strong critic of Beijing, accusing China of unfair trade policies, criticizing its island building in the strategic South China Sea, and accusing it of not doing enough to constrain its neighbor, North Korea.

Trump incensed Beijing in December by talking to the president of Taiwan and saying the United States did not have to stick to the “one China” policy, under which Washington acknowledges the Chinese position that there is only one China, of which Taiwan is a part.

Trump later agreed in a phone call with Xi to honor the “one China” policy in a diplomatic boost for Beijing, which vehemently opposes criticism of its claim to self-ruled Taiwan.

In an interview with Reuters on Thursday, Trump pressed China to do more to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, saying Beijing could resolve the issue “very easily if it wanted to.”

China dismissed Trump’s remarks, saying on Friday the crux of the matter was a dispute between Washington and Pyongyang. Beijing has repeatedly called for a return to negotiations between Pyongyang and world powers.

As Yang held talks at the White House, senior officials from the United States, Japan and South Korea met at the State Department to discuss additional measures to choke off funding to North Korea’s weapons program.

“The officials considered other possible measures under national authorities, including means to restrict further the revenue sources for North Korea’s weapons programs, particularly illicit activities,” they said in a joint statement.

They also agreed that North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs directly threatened their security and “strong international pressure” was needed to push back at Pyongyang, the statement said.

Plans for renewed contacts with North Korea in the United States were canceled last week after the U.S. State Department denied a visa for the top envoy from Pyongyang, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.

(Reporting by Steve Holland, David Brunnstrom, Matt Spetalnick and Washington Newsroom, and Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Andrew Hay and Jonathan Oatis)

Source: Reuters “Trump, China’s top diplomat, discuss cooperation, possible Xi meeting”

Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


China Promises Not to Use Currency Devaluation to Its Advantage


In its report yesterday on its exclusive interview with US President Donald Trump titled “Exclusive: Trump calls Chinese ‘grand champions’ of currency manipulation”, Reuters says:

President Donald Trump declared China the “grand champions” of currency manipulation on Thursday, just hours after his new Treasury secretary pledged a more methodical approach to analyzing Beijing’s foreign exchange practices.

In an exclusive interview with Reuters, Trump said he has not “held back” in his assessment that China manipulates its yuan currency, despite not acting on a campaign promise to declare it a currency manipulator on his first day in office.

However, on the contrary, Reuters says in the report, “China’s central bank has spent billions of dollars in foreign exchange reserves in the past year to prop up the yuan to counter capital outflows.”

Whatever the fact, China wants to satisfy Trump in order to have win-win cooperation with Trump. In another report yesterday titled “China says no intention of using currency devaluation to its advantage”, Reuters quotes Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang as saying in a daily media briefing, “China has no intention of seeking foreign trade advantages via an intentional devaluation of the renminbi. There is no basis for the continued devaluation of the renminbi”.

Geng’s promise on China having no intention of currency manipulation proves what I said in my previous posts that Trump has got what he wants in his telephone talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

He has got China to ban import of North Korean coal to pressure North Korea.

He has got China’s promise not to manipulate its currency.

It proves that he is a shrewd businessman and has used his shrewdness in US diplomacy. It also shows Chinese leaders’ wisdom in seeking win-win cooperation with the US.

Comments by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ reports, full text of which can be viewed respectively at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-china-currency-exclusive-idUSKBN1622PJ and http://www.reuters.com/article/uk-usa-trump-china-currency-idUSKBN1630VK.


Trump Succeeds in Having China Pressure North Korea Harder


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches a performance given with splendor at the People's Theatre on Wednesday to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the State Merited Chorus in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on February 23, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches a performance given with splendor at the People’s Theatre on Wednesday to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the State Merited Chorus in this photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on February 23, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS

In the above photo, Kim did not smile with a light heart perhaps due to China’s reduction of coal import from his country.

Reuters says in its report “Trump wants to make sure U.S. nuclear arsenal at ‘top of the pack’” yesterday that in an interview with Reuters, US President Donald Trump says that Beijing may rein in Pyongyang “very easily if they want to”.

I said in my post “The Conundrum of China-North Korea Relations 2” on February 21, “China does not want to punish North Korea too hard for fear of the collapse of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un regime” as it “may give rise to flood of hundreds of thousands North Korean refugees into China” or US and South Korea’s annexation of North Korea and thus depriving China of a buffer that separates the two from China.

Now by banning import of coal from North Korea, China has really pressured North Korea hard in accordance with Trump’s demand.

Judging by North Korea’s angry response, the ban really hurts. Reuters says in its another report titled “North Korea raps old ally China after China’s ban on coal” yesterday, “The North’s state-run KCNA news agency did not refer directly to China by name but in an unmistakable censure it accused a ‘neighboring country’ of going along with North Korea’s enemies to ‘bring down its social system’.

“‘This country, styling itself a big power, is dancing to the tune of the U.S. while defending its mean behavior with such excuses that it was meant not to have a negative impact on the living of the people in the DPRK but to check its nuclear program,’ KCNA said in a commentary.”

North Korea is shrewd in describing China as a big power losing face in obeying US demand, but Chinese leaders simply do not care because they are wise honest leaders. They do not mind losing face as long as their nation is much benefited in losing face.

They let the US take the lead in the dance as long as China and the US cooperate well in dancing to US tune that greatly benefit China. They know win-win cooperation with the US is too important for China’s economic prosperity and national security.

The reduction in coal import from North Korea does not hurt China as China has much excessive coal production capacity to cover the loss of import. North Korea will suffer losses less than US2 billion in lost coal export, but if China provides it with loan for paying import of food and other daily necessities from China, North Korean people will not suffer and North Korea’s political stability will not be affected. Only, Kim Jong-un will have less money for nuclear and missile development, which is good for not only the US but also China.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ reports, full text of which can respectively be viewed at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-exclusive-idUSKBN1622IF and http://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-china-idUSKBN1621G2.


The Conundrum of China-North Korea Relations 2


 FILE PHOTO: People look through binoculars towards North Korea from the destroyed bridge across Yalu River that once linked North Korea's Sinuiju and Dandong, China's Liaoning province, September 10, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo People look through binoculars towards North Korea from the destroyed bridge across Yalu River that once linked North Korea's Sinuiju and Dandong, China's Liaoning province, September 10, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

People look through binoculars towards North Korea from the destroyed bridge across Yalu River that once linked North Korea’s Sinuiju and Dandong, China’s Liaoning province, September 10, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

In my post “The Conundrum of China-North Korea Relations” the day before yesterday, I said that China satisfied US President Trump in yuan exchange rate, import tariffs and intellectual property as those are what China has already had intention to do, but has difficulties to be hard on North Korea.

I described in my post the kinship between Chinese and North Korean peoples.

Some believe that China benefits from the trouble created by North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests to the US, Japan and South Korea as the three form an iron triangle against China. However, China will be in great trouble if Trump has Japan and South Korea develop nuclear weapons to deal with North Korea and put China under direct threat of Japan and South Korea’s nuclear weapons; therefore, China has to stop North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests, especially when Trump has shown his desire in his phone call with Xi for win-win cooperation with China.

To please the US and put pressure on North Korea, China has recently announced that it would suspend import of North Korean coal, that accounts for $1.89 billion of the $2.5 billion in total Chinese imports from North Korea.

However, China does not want to punish North Korea too hard for fear of the collapse of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un regime.

Reuters says in its report “China wields stick with North Korea, but is still pushing for talks” yesterday that China fears that the collapse may give rise to flood of hundreds of thousands North Korean refugees into China.

In addition, “Beijing would also be concerned that U.S. and South Korean armed forces would move into North Korea and soon be on the Chinese border.”

That is why Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in Munich over the weekend that China had not given up hope for a new round of diplomacy with North Korea, even as he pledged support for UN sanctions.

Anyway, Trump must be satisfied. I hope that the win-win cooperation between the US and China will make both of them strong and prosperous perhaps at the expense of Japan. North Korea will also be happy about that as Kim Jong-un in fact wants good relations with the US. His nuclear and missile tests are but bargaining chips for improvement of relations with the US. However, North Korea hates Japan bitterly.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-northkorea-analysis-idUSKBN15Z11M.