New Neighborship Will Drive US Hegemony Away from Asia


In my preceding post, we say that Russia and EU may drive US hegemony away from Europe if they switch from the traditional neighborship of fighting for land or control to the new neighborship characterized by economic complement, the facilitating of connection and mutual military protection. However, the traditional neighborship is well established between Russia and EU due to Tsar’s expansion and Soviet Union’s export of its communist system so that it is very difficult for the two sides to build trust.

It is, however, easier for China to develop the new neighborship in Asia to drive US hegemony away from Asia. China can do so as there have already been quite good mechanisms facilitating such neighborship.

In Southeast Asia, there are ASEAN with very successful free trade area with China and negotiations have been carrying out for expansion of the free trade area to South Korea and Japan. Anyway, China has already quite successful free trade area with South Korea whether the negotiation succeed or fail. China’s neighborship is perfect in China’s interests. China’s influence in North Korea makes South Korea and Japan hope that China will use its influence to cause North Korea to give up nuclear weapons.

In North and Central Asia, there is Russia- and China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization with the potential of military alliance. In the Middle East Iran has joined Russia and China to form an iron triangle to counter the US. In South Asia, China has Pakistan as its iron brother and a memorandum of understanding with Bangladesh for development of China-Bangladesh Economic Corridor. It has been building the ports of Kyaukpyo, Hambantota and Gwadar that are regarded as China’s pearl-shaped encirclement of India in the Indian Ocean. All the above mechanisms, organizations and relationship constitute or are the basis of new neighborship characterized by economic complement, the facilitating of connections or mutual military protection.

The establishment of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership at the end of last year may enable Asia to set up an Asian Union similar to EU. For integration of Asia to remove US hegemony, China only need to develop new neighborship with India, Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Both Vietnam and the Philippines have maritime border disputes with China in the South China Sea, but they are both ASEAN members and may be influenced by ASEAN. Vietnam may, in addition, be affected by Russia so that it will not be too fierce in confronting with China.

Philippines, a US ally, but in spite of the alliance, it has been seeking better relations with China as it was greatly disappointed that the US failed to send its navy to help it in its Scarborough Standoff with China. If the US does not plan to send its navy to help it in its disputes with China, the Philippines will not dare to counter China seriously.

India is now easing its border tensions with China and Pakistan while joining Quad halfheartedly. That proves development of new neighborship is possible. Pakistan will give India a short access to the oil and gas in the Middle East while China may cooperate with India in India’s development of industry and water conservancy projects.

Japan is most difficult due to its invasion of China that inflicted great misery to Chinese people. According to traditional neighborship, China will certainly retaliate. However, China has to follow the new world trend and refrain from retaliation. If China is able to remove Japan’s fear of retaliation, it may develop new neighborship with Japan as Japan has great interest in Chinese market. When China has developed the new friendly neighborship with all Asian countries including US allies Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, no Asian country needs US military protection. By that time there will be no US hegemony in Asia.

Article by Chan Kai Yee


China, South Korea vow cooperation on North Korea after top diplomat meeting


By Reuters Staff

APRIL 3, 20212:18 PM UPDATED 27 MINUTES AGO

SEOUL (Reuters) – China and South Korea vowed to work together to address problems on the Korean Peninsula during the first visit by a South Korean foreign minister to China in three years, the Yonhap news agency reported Saturday.

State Councillor Wang Yi, the Chinese government’s top diplomat, said the two countries had agreed “to promote the process to politically resolve issues surrounding the Korean Peninsula,” Yonhap reported.

South Korean foreign minister Chung Eui-yong, said he expects China to play a role in peacemaking between South Korea and North Korea.

“Korea and China share a common goal toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula,” Yonhap cited Chung as saying.

Reporting by Cynthia Kim in Seoul and Andrew Galbraith in Shanghai; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

Source: Reuters “China, South Korea vow cooperation on North Korea after top diplomat meeting”

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


US Encirclement of China


Previous Failure to Encircle China due to Russia’s Involvement

Previously when Obama began to contain China’s rise with his pivot to Asia, he was trying hard to encircle China with its allies and partners. China is well aware of that. It made great efforts to win over US allies and partners to prevent them from helping the US contain China,

For the encirclement the then US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta visited almost all China’s neighbors including US dead enemy Vietnam to set up the encirclement. However, the US neglected Russia’s potential. Russia found that US encirclement of China threatened its security as it was similar to the encirclement of Russia. Breaking the encirclement would contribute to Russia’s security. Moreover, in order to win over Russia as an ally, China had rendered Russia substantial assistance in joining Russia’s vetos to help maintain Russia’s influence in the Middle East. Breaking the encirclement will facilitate Russia-China alliance in the face of US pressure on both of them. Russia would not join the encircoment itself and had told Vietnam and India the two countries within its sphere of influence not to join the encirclement. It had thus broken the northen and southeasten parts of the encirclement.

The breakthrough in easing tension between China and Vietnam with Russian help had indicated China’s willingness to cooperate with other South China Sea claimants in fishing and extracting oil and gas in the disputed waters. As a result, both Malaysia and Brunei refrain from joining the encirclement.

Due to China’s influence to ease tensions between South and North Koreas, South Korea refrained from joining the US encirclement.

At that time, Taiwan was building up economic ties with Mainland. Even in the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, there are lots of people who wanted to have a “one-China consensus” with the Mainland.

As a result, only Japan and the Philippines remained supportive to the encirclement but they were too few for the encirclement.

Encirclment of China with Quad Now

Now, in order to contain China’s rise, the US is trying to encircle China again with diplomacy but it has only two allies Japan and the Philippines and is thus entirely unable to encircle China geographically. However, the US exploited Trump’s legacy to apply its naval supremacy to control the Pacific and Indian Oceans to contain China at sea. For that purpose, it has tried hard to restore the Quad grouping of the US, Japan, Australia and India.

However, unlike China’s alliance with Russia that is not only military but also political and economic, the quad alliance of four countries is but military.

Japan Competes US in Chinese Market, but Joins Quad Merely for US Protection

One of Quad’s important member is Japan, but Japan joins Quad only for its national security in the face of a rising China. It always fears China’s possible retaliation of its invasion of China in the 1930s and 1940s

Japan is important as it is the third largest economy in the world. It at first was not much interested in having free trade area agreement with China. Instead, it made great efforts to set up with the US the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to contain China. It was greatly disappointed when Trump withdrew from TPP for implementation of his isolationist “America first” policy.

As an alternative, Japan becomes an active member of China-initiated Reagional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and is striving to set up 3 + ASEAN free trade area in order to be benefited first of all by China’s huge market. In that market, Japan is America’s competitor. Its alliance with the US now is merely a military one to get US protection.

South Korea Refuses to Join the Encirclment

South Korea is also a major US ally but it is not willing to join the encirclement of China. Though a US ally, it did not join the US-lead Quad summit on March 14, 2021. If it had joined, it would have made the meeting “less anti-China.” Its Moon Jae-in administration has issued its principle of pursuing “openness, transparency and inclusiveness” in its diplomacy. The keyword here is “inclusiveness” that makes it unable to join the encirclement.

Quad Statement Even Fails to Mention China

Though aimed at countering China, the Quad summit entirely failed to mention that in its statement. As the joint statement of Japan and US is highly critical of China when US Secretaries of State and Defense visited Japan soon after the quad summit and as Australia openly showed its delight at the restoration of Quad against China, obviously it was India that opposed the open declaration of Quad’s anti-China position

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited India soon after the Quad summit in order to draw India closer to US side but failed to make India play its role in countering China. India is a vital part of Quad as a Indo-Pacific group becuase it is the only country in Indian Ocean. The US has attached great strategic importance to India. It has been providing and promised to provide India with advanced weapons and weapon technology in order to make India play its role in containing China in Indian Ocean.

A Large Hole in Encirclement as India Dare not Fight China

India wants US protection and weapon and weapon technology, but its prime minister Modi is very shrewd. In order to please the US so as to be able to get what India wants from the US, in mid June 2020, he sent Indian troops across the Line of Actual Control to fight Chinese border troops without fire arms and thus created tensions between India and China.

However, that was the utmost he can do to please the US. He does not want to have a real war with China as he knows well China’s iron brother Pakistan will certainly join China in fighting India, resulting in India fighting on both east and west fronts. The US being far away cannot send much troops and weapons to help it while Russia being China’s ally would refuse to help India fix Russian weapons damaged in the war.

Therefore, while discussing with the US on the restoration of Quad, India reached agreement with China to ease the tensions. On September 10, 2020 Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar met and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. They said they would ease the tensions

In a joint statement, the neighbours said the “current situation is not in the interest of either side”.

“They agreed, therefore, that the border troops of both sides should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions”.

Now, the troops of the two countries have indeed disengaged and ended the standoff.

In addition there is report on March 24, 2021 that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sent a letter to his Pakistani counterpart, saying he desires cordial relations with Pakistan. As a result, tensions between India and Pakistan have also eased.

Though in Indian officials’ talks with the US, they may have said much against China, India is by no means so stupid as to be US pawn to fight China for the US; therefore, there is a large hole in US encirclement of China.

No EU Consensus about How EU Should Interact with the Quad

European governments followed the developments of Quad intently, but so far there has been no consensus among them about how they should interact with the Quad.

US Secretary of State recently visited Europe in order to win over it as allies in countering China but without success. That will be discussed later.

Article by Chan Kai Yee


America’s Indo-Pacific Folly


Adding New Commitments in Asia Will Only Invite Disaster

By Van Jackson

March 12, 2021

On his first phone call with Chinese leader Xi Jinping after taking office, U.S. President Joe Biden stressed that “preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific” was one of his top priorities. He made a similar point to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, promising to “promote a free and open Indo-Pacific,” and to South Korean leader Moon Jae-in, calling the U.S.–South Korean alliance a “lynchpin of the security and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific.” On a call between Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, both leaders affirmed the importance of the U.S.-Japanese alliance as a “cornerstone of peace and prosperity in a free and open Indo-Pacific,” according to a White House readout of the conversation.

Only a decade ago, the phrase “Indo-Pacific” would have left most foreign policy experts scratching their heads. Today, it is not just stock language in Washington but a widely accepted reconceptualization of Asia that is rearranging U.S. foreign policy. In the early days of his administration, Biden appointed Kurt Campbell—one of the architects of President Barack Obama’s “pivot” to Asia—as his “Indo-Pacific Coordinator,” a newly created position on the National Security Council. Soon after, Admiral Phil Davidson—head of what just a few years ago was the Pacific Command but is now the Indo-Pacific Command—announced that the Pentagon was shifting away from its historic focus on Northeast Asia and Guam toward “revising our Indo-Pacific force laydown . . . to account for China’s rapid modernization.” And ahead of Biden’s meeting this week with the leaders of the Quad—a loose coalition among Australia, India, Japan, and the United States that seeks to counter China—White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the president’s decision to make the summit one of his earliest multilateral engagements “speaks to the importance we’ve placed on close cooperation with our allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific.”

The Indo-Pacific’s evolution from unfamiliar term to foreign policy cliché is not the product of rigorous policy debates or careful consideration. Rather, Washington’s national security establishment has unthinkingly internalized a Trump-era turn of phrase that is rife with unrealistic expectations and unvetted assumptions. The goal of a “free and open Indo-Pacific” may sound noble, but pursuing it will lead the United States astray.

The concept of an Indo-Pacific expands what is meant by Asia to include the Indian Ocean region, an area of debatable interest to the United States that many now see as vital for countering China. Widening the regional aperture in this manner encourages military overstretch by positioning the United States for commitments that will be difficult to defend and distracts policymaker attention from other parts of Asia, where decades of hard-won peace hinge much more directly on American words and deeds. East Asia and the Pacific are not just subsets of a greater Indo-Pacific—they are the core geography of U.S. power and influence in Asia. Forsaking them for the latest geopolitical buzzword is an epic blunder in the making.

ORIGINS OF THE INDO-PACIFIC

The modern concept of the Indo-Pacific dates back to 2007, when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe observed in a speech in India that “the Pacific and the Indian Oceans are now bringing about a dynamic coupling as seas of freedom and of prosperity. A ‘broader Asia’ that broke away geographical boundaries is now beginning to take on a distinct form.” After the speech, the Indo-Pacific became a recurring referent in Japanese, Indian, and eventually Australian foreign policy circles. The Indian Ocean had always mattered to these countries; Australia and India front it, and since the dawn of the twenty-first century, Japanese strategists had quietly promoted the idea of partnering with India there in order to dilute China’s strength in East Asia. Reframing Asia as the Indo-Pacific served the interests of all three of these nations.

The Pentagon’s competition-obsessed Office of Net Assessment started pushing the idea of expanding American influence in the Indian Ocean as part of a broader reorientation of U.S. statecraft toward Asia as early as 2002. References to the Indo-Pacific then began to proliferate during Barack Obama’s presidency, as defense strategists in particular started thinking of the Indian Ocean region as a place to balance a rising China at relatively low cost. But the broader idea of an Indo-Pacific really became lodged in the imagination of U.S. policymakers only after the publication in 2010 of Robert Kaplan’s geopolitical travelogue Monsoon, which popularized the idea that the Indian Ocean would take center stage in the twenty-first-century strategy games of great powers.

Kaplan’s prophecy was self-fulfilling—only after the book became a bestseller did the Indo-Pacific become a Washington obsession—but he did not pull it from thin air. Kaplan identified real patterns crisscrossing the Pacific and Indian Oceans: energy corridors, shipping containers filled with Gucci bags and iPhones, migration, terrorism, and subdued Sino-Indian competition for influence among smaller states that long predated the current all-consuming rivalry between China and the United States. The Indo-Pacific, in other words, was a thing, and it merited attention.

Indo-Pacific and the Indian Ocean region became shibboleths during the Trump era, ways for insiders to identify who among them was working in service of a larger project of zero-sum competition with China.

But the idea quickly leapt from novelty to cliché, ultimately stifling rather than improving debates about Asia policy. In Washington, the Indo-Pacific, as a substitution for Asia, came to matter only as a balancing game against China: it and the Indian Ocean region became shibboleths during the Trump era, ways for insiders to identify who among them was working in service of a larger project of zero-sum competition with China. By 2019, using the term “Asia” rather than “Indo-Pacific” suggested either that one wasn’t in the know or that one wasn’t sufficiently committed to kneecapping Xi.

The Trump administration endorsed this more expansive way of talking about Asia because it symbolized and facilitated an additional front of pressure against Beijing. Enamored with the search for new ways to cause problems for China in the Indian Ocean region, Trump officials believed they could draw Beijing’s attention and resources away from other areas of competition. So far, the Biden administration appears to have imported this thinking wholesale. Unfortunately, neither administration gave much thought to the implications and risks of expanding the field of play in this “great game” with China.

ERASING THE ASIAN PEACE

Analytically, the biggest problem with an aggregate Indo-Pacific is that it subsumes an East Asia in which no wars have erupted since 1979. This “Asian peace” is the product of a number of factors, including U.S. forward military presence and alliances, Sino-U.S. détente, economic interdependence, regional norms and multilateral architecture, and the spread of democracy in some quarters. Peace and its causes in East Asia and the Pacific should be the focal points of U.S. policy toward the region, particularly as most of these historical sources of stability have eroded in recent years. What could be more important than preventing war in the world’s wealthiest, most militarized, and most populous region?

By grouping South Asia with East Asia, though, the Indo-Pacific obscures the Asian peace. India and Pakistan have come into conflict repeatedly over the last half century, indicating that the politics of South Asia are out of step with those of East Asia. They are different games. Washington risks losing that insight—and the ability to calibrate policies accordingly—when it views everything through the lens of a single mega-region with a single, albeit implied, mega-purpose. U.S. statecraft cannot address what it cannot see, and the Indo-Pacific formulation turns the Asian peace into a dangerous blind spot.

But a neglected Asian peace is not the only risk Washington runs with its expanded conceptualization of Asia. The United States risks overextending its power in the Indian Ocean region. Washington enjoys many advantages and retains many interests in East Asia and the Pacific: these regions contain five U.S. treaty allies, not to mention Hawaii, where the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command is headquartered, and the U.S. territory of Guam. Through the Compact of Free Association, the United States maintains exclusive control over the security of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau in exchange for basing and port access. These alliances and commitments, underpinned by more than 80,000 U.S. troops and dozens of military installations in East Asia alone, give the United States considerable influence in East Asia and the Pacific. But the United States has no comparable alliances, responsibilities, or interests in the Indian Ocean region.

The United States faces a credibility problem in the Indian Ocean region, should it wish to fight a war or engage in coercive diplomacy there.

The United States therefore faces a credibility problem in the Indian Ocean region, should it wish to fight a war or engage in coercive diplomacy there. Without allies or territories in the region, and with scarcer access to bases and ports than in other parts of Asia, U.S. forces would find it harder and riskier to project military power in the Indian Ocean than pretty much anywhere other than the Taiwan Strait. As a result, U.S. threats and commitments in the Indian Ocean region do not carry as much weight as they do elsewhere.

The Pentagon usually expects to overcome disadvantages such as these with more weapons and more funding, rather than with better strategy. But the United States’ thin military presence in the Indian Ocean region is not a gap that needs filling. It is proportional to U.S. interests in the region compared with those in other parts of Asia. Expanding the navy’s presence in the Indian Ocean could make sense if the United States needed to be prepared for the sudden outbreak of war there. But China’s main conflict is on land in the Himalayas—against India, a dispute that does not concern U.S. interests. And China will not remain passive as it perceives the U.S. military further encircling it. The surest path to preventing war in the Indian Ocean is restraint, not more troops in defense of a nonexistent redline. Greater militarization of this part of the world benefits nobody and costs the American taxpayer all the while.

There is also the risk that by trying to cleverly distract and disadvantage China in the Indian Ocean, the United States will distract and disadvantage itself. If the Biden administration had inherited healthy alliances and an uncontested regional order in Asia, perhaps it could have made the case for going even farther abroad in search of new places to stabilize. But the past four years have caused many U.S. allies to question Washington’s reliability, and the list of pressing regional issues has only gotten longer—from intensifying Chinese pressure on Taiwan to North Korea’s runaway nuclear capabilities. Recent polling also indicates that most Southeast Asian nations do not care about great-power competition nearly as much as they do about climate change, economic inequality, and societal recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic—the inverse of U.S. foreign policy priorities of late. Biden, in other words, has plenty of repair work to do in East Asia and the Pacific before he should worry about expanding the United States’ sphere of interest.

BALANCING ON THE CHEAP

None of the above is an argument for neglecting the Indian Ocean. But given the region’s relative unimportance to the United States, and Washington’s comparative advantages elsewhere, only low-cost and low-risk initiatives make sense there. The Quad arguably qualifies as such an initiative, as long as expectations are kept in line with reality. The same is true of the United States’ decision to furnish India with intelligence during its recent skirmish with China in the Himalayas—a sensible move, assuming U.S. officials had reason to believe that better information was going to discourage violence. The United States is also right to welcome Canadian, French, and British involvement in the region, since it costs Washington nothing and has the potential to amplify Washington’s voice while moderating its overzealous competitive impulse through democratic multilateralism.

What these initiatives have in common is not just that they constitute a kind of balancing on the cheap but that they encourage other countries to assume greater responsibility for regional security. The United States should be looking for ways to contribute in the Indian Ocean that offer complementarity without commitment—not ways to command the commons, lead the “free world,” or carry the burden for frontline states whose fates are more directly affected by the shape of Indian Ocean politics. Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said that “every element of what we do in our foreign policy and national security ultimately has to be measured by the impact it has on working families.” Further militarizing the Indian Ocean and distracting from Asia does not meet that standard.

The Indo-Pacific is, at times, a valid analytic construct. Some things do traverse the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and the Indian Ocean is of geographic importance to U.S. allies such as Japan and Australia. But an ally’s geography is not the United States’ geography. Washington must not allow hubris, fear, or groupthink to distort its perception of threats, interests, and capabilities. What one calls a thing might be trivial, but how one imagines a thing can carry great importance. In the case of the Indo-Pacific, an imagined sphere of U.S. interest that puts the Indian Ocean on a par with East Asia could lead to disaster.

Source: Foreign Affairs “America’s Indo-Pacific Folly”

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


China, S.Korea actively promoting 2nd phase FTA negotiations shows increasing mutual political trust: expert


By Sun Haoran

Published: Feb 27, 2021 06:37 PM

The Ministry of Commerce of China and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy of South Korea Friday held a meeting of chief negotiators for the second phase of free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations, with an expert on Saturday saying that this shows the increasing mutual political trust between the two countries despite current discord, and will have an optimistic effect on trade liberalization and multilateralism.

China and South Korea conducted further consultations on trade in services and investment rules, and market opening in the negative list mode with negotiations making positive progress, Chinese Ministry of Commerce said on Friday in a release on its website.

“Promoting the early substantive results of their negotiations will further enhance the level of liberalization and facilitation of services trade and investment between China and South Korea,” Dong Xiangrong, a senior research fellow at the National Institute of International Strategy under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), told the Global Times on Saturday.

“It will also strengthen their cooperation on technical trade barriers, intellectual property rights, and the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in terms of biological technology, such as RT-PCR tests, vaccine research and production,” she said.

The negative list, which came into effect in China on January 1, 2020, is a management model of foreign investment that allows industries not on the list to be open for investment in all businesses and does not require pre-approval by Chinese government agencies.

According to the Xinhua News Agency, for the first time, the negative list has been introduced into the services trade and investment negotiations between China and South Korea on their free trade agreement (FTA) in 2019.

Dong pointed out that China and South Korea maintain very important bilateral relations with close economic ties. Although discord exists regarding politics, regional security and culture between the two countries, their mutual political trust has been strengthening in recent years.

“For example, the South Korean government, instead of politicizing the coronavirus, adopted a scientific and pragmatic attitude to deal with the pandemic, and the two countries approved the ‘fast-track’ entry system between them,” she noted, adding that the moves maintained the stability of the industrial and supply chains and even bilateral economic ties, becoming an example of international cooperation on pandemic control and prevention.

Most recent data shows that China remains South Korea’s largest trading partner in 2020 despite the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, while the latter is the former’s third. Their trade volume reached $285.26 billion in 2020.

Dong indicated that “in the past, the trade structure between China and South Korea was mainly complementary. Due to the rapid development of China’s economy, their trade relationship has developed into a complex relationship of complementarity and competition. China competes with South Korea in many fields, such as information technology, shipbuilding, steel, automobile and smart phones.”

“Despite the complexity, China and South Korea’s active promotion of closer bilateral economic and trade cooperation will further enhance the stability and integration of the industrial and supply chains in East Asia, as well as play a positive role in supporting free trade and multilateralism,” she noted.

The China-South Korea FTA came into effect in 2015, and the second phase of FTA negotiations were jointly announced by the two sides in December 2017. At present, they have conducted seven tariff reductions, and the coverage rate of zero tariff trade volume exceeds 55 percent of their trade in total, Chinanew.com reported Friday.

Source: Global Times “China, S.Korea actively promoting 2nd phase FTA negotiations shows increasing mutual political trust: expert”

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


Sino-South Korea tensions thaw in bid to gain Huawei favour


Beijing appears to be making moves to keep ties warm with Seoul, removing criticism of its top K-pop band on the internet and perhaps rewarding the Moon regime, which has so far resisted US appeals to cut Huawei from its 5G networks

by Chris Gill October 16, 2020

Sino-South Korea tensions thaw in bid to gain Huawei favour

(ATF) In their often rocky relationship South Korea and China are having a mini détente. Comments by a BTS K-pop band member on the Korean war were widely criticised on China’s internet, but the PRC spokesman responded in a conciliatory tone and Beijing has used its state media to scrub negative comments about the band off the Chinese internet.

At the same time, news is emerging that super-wired South Korea will likely continue to use Huawei equipment in its already functioning 5G networks, which are facing various bottlenecks. It looks likely that under-the-radar Korea will keep using Huawei 5G equipment rather than ripping it out amid ongoing security concerns.

It is unclear what the eventual situation will become, but for now Korea needs Huawei tech. As more or less the only major economy to throw Huawei a bone, China has toned down the aggressive rhetoric. But part of the motivation is also to try and prevent more companies from Korea moving operations out of China.

Soon after the United Kingdom announced its ban on Huawei, a representative of the United States declared that the UK’s move was “persuaded” by the United States, and the US had also “persuaded” many other countries to ban Huawei, a tech analysis site in China called Golden Ten Data reported.

Recently, however, the “persuasion” of the United States was ‘rejected’ by a key ally, according to the site.

Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported on October 14 that a South Korean official revealed that US officials asked the Moon government in Seoul to exclude Huawei and other Chinese telecoms from the country’s 5G network, but South Korean officials rejected the “proposal”. This is rather surprising given that South Korea’s Samsung looks to be one of the main beneficiaries of Huawei’s demise in many Western nations.

‘Decision left to telecom operators’

According to the news source, the United States reiterated on Tuesday Oct 13 that South Korea should exclude Huawei’s 5G equipment as soon as possible and switch to trusted suppliers to ensure the country’s network security during high-level economic talks being held with Seoul. But South Korean officials said it was up to domestic telecom operators whether they do or don’t use Huawei equipment.

And South Korean telecom operators have already made a statement. As early as May, CBN learned from people in the telecommunications industry in South Korea that the country’s three major telecom operators – SK Telecom, KT, and LG U+ – have all made it clear that they have no plans to boycott or exclude Huawei equipment in 5G network construction in the country.

The head of LG U+ R&D, which is using Huawei’s 5G base station equipment, also said that if South Korea wants to achieve the goal of being a “5G power”, regardless of price, security, or technological leadership, Huawei is the first choice.

LG U+’s high evaluation of Huawei has a lot to do with Huawei’s assistance. In August, the world’s first 5G commercial network test report released by the world’s leading information provider IHS Markit said that South Korea’s 5G network evaluation report showed that LG U+ faces insufficient 5G spectrum supply – it has 80MHz, compared to SKT and KT, which have 100MHz). But through the deployment of Huawei 5G Massive MIMO, it has achieved good results in overall leadership in key indicators such as maximum rate, average rate, delay, and speed consistency.

Based on Huawei’s equipment, LG U+ also stated that it will continue to cooperate with Huawei to deploy next-generation 5G mobile communication technology. Currently, among the 15,000 5G base stations deployed by LG U+ across the country, Huawei’s equipment accounts for about 95%.

Most ‘wired’ country stuck in a ‘bottleneck’

South Korea is the world’s most ‘wired’ country, so a delay in 5G would not be appreciated. It was the first country in the world to achieve commercial 5G – in 2019, when South Korean operators won the title of “the world’s first country to achieve commercial 5G”, hours ahead of the United States.

In the same year, a 5G market development country evaluation report by the OMDIA consulting agency showed that South Korea achieved full marks in five aspects – frequency band planning, business commercialisation, network coverage, user penetration, and 5G ecology – and won the “World’s Best 5G”.

It can be said that South Korea’s 5G strength has already been rated top in the world.

As for why South Korea rejected the “persuasion” of the United States, it could be a number of factors. President Trump has been pushing Seoul to pay far more for having thousands of US troops stationed there.

Or, is it related to the country’s 5G bottleneck and the decline in user satisfaction and development indicators? The growth trend of 5G users of the three major operators in South Korea has slowed down. At present, neither KT nor LG U+ can achieve their previous goal of a 5G user penetration rate of 20-25% by the end of 2020.

And the appeal of 5G mobile phones has dropped a lot for South Korean consumers. Samsung released a new 5G model Galaxy S20 on February 28 this year, but the sales volume on that day was only 70,000 units, which was half of the sales volume of the Galaxy S10 last year.

From the perspective of 5G network coverage and 5G network speed, an OpenSignal report in June showed that due to insufficient indoor coverage by 5G networks, most 5G mobile users in South Korea use 4G networks 80% of the time. The same report by OpenSignal ranked video experiences based on 5G networks in 20 countries around the world, but South Korea only ranked 8th, far behind Norway and Japan.

And unlike South Korea’s 5G system gradually falling into a bottleneck, China, one year after the commercialisation of 5G, now has the world’s most 5G base stations and the world’s highest capital expenditure on such a network.

South Korea wants to break through the bottleneck, so Golden Ten Data’s analyst thought “it is a wise choice to cooperate with Chinese operators”.

Source: Asian Times Financial “Sino-South Korea tensions thaw in bid to gain Huawei favour”

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


China, Japan, South Korea agree to make ‘all policy efforts’ to fight pandemic


By Tetsushi Kajimoto

SEPTEMBER 18, 202010:25 AMUPDATED 12 MINUTES AGO

TOKYO (Reuters) – Finance ministers and central bankers from China, Japan and South Korea agreed on Friday to redouble their efforts to help the region recover economically from the novel coronavirus while vowing to defend the multilateral trade and investment system.

China, Japan and Korea are committed to enhance our cooperation and communication with each other as well as ASEAN countries to work towards fast economic recovery in our region,” they said in a joint statement after a teleconference, referring to the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations.

While remaining vigilant to the future uncertainties … (we) affirm the importance of maintaining an open and rule-based multilateral trade and investment system,” they said.

The annual meeting comes after the coronavirus triggered deep downturns in regional economies, disrupting global trade and supply chains, and heightening market volatility in Asia and beyond.

Highlighting worries about risks of a hit to market liquidity, Japan and Malaysia signed a bilateral currency swap arrangement that enables authorities to swap up to $3 billion of their currencies.

The financial leaders also promised to help boost Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation (CMIM), a web of multilateral currency-swap arrangements deemed crucial to the region’s financial safety-net.

We expect the CMIM … to be further strengthened to assist the regional economies dealing with various crisis situations including pandemics,” they said.

Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Tom Hogue, Robert Birsel

Source: Reuters “China, Japan, South Korea agree to make ‘all policy efforts’ to fight pandemic”

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


What to Expect From Japan’s New Leader


COVID-19, China, and South Korea top the agenda for new LDP President Suga Yoshihide.

By Duncan Bartlett

September 15, 2020

In this Sept. 14, 2020, file photo, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga acknowledges as he is elected as new head of Japan’s ruling party at the Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) leadership election, in Tokyo. Credit: AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool

As anticipated, Suga Yoshihide has won the election for the leadership of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) following Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s decision to step down. Suga defeated rivals Kishida Fumio and Ishiba Shigeru in a landslide victory.

Suga, the chief cabinet secretary throughout Abe’s record-long term, does not have a flashy image, nor a celebrity profile. But he is known as a tenacious political fighter, seeking to reform the LDP from within and to force through incremental but profound changes to the major institutions that control Japan’s society. He has warned that the bureaucratic structure of the civil service is hampering the government’s response to COVID-19.

There is no general election scheduled in Japan until the autumn of next year. However, speculation is rife that Suga may seek to dissolve the lower house of parliament and go to the polls as soon as this November.

The opposition parties are seen as disorganized and divided, so many pollsters believe an early election would give the LDP an advantage. If it manages another win, this would give Suga a clear mandate to govern.

Most of his political experience is in the domestic field, rather than in international affairs, although he has accompanied Abe on trips abroad and stood by his side during conversations with world leaders.

Suga has also served as the top government spokesman since 2012. It was in that role, earlier this year, that he publicly condemned South Korea for making what he said were “unreasonable demands” for compensation relating to the period when Japan occupied the Korean peninsula prior to World War II.

Shigeto Nagai, who heads the Japan team at Oxford Economics, regards Suga as less hawkish and more pragmatic than his rivals. Nagai says: “We are still not sure how Mr. Suga will perform as a prime minister and as the chief diplomat of this country but he might take a more practical approach and he may be more prepared to make compromises than other people in his party.”

However,” Nagai continued, “he cannot go against the policies set by the LDP and the party is currently not showing any softening of attitude towards South Korea.”

Nagai believes that the public mood in Japan is currently more negative toward South Korea than it is on China. He says there may be an economic reason for this: “Japan’s reliance on China is much larger than on South Korea. The challenge for any Japanese prime minister is always to balance the relationship between China and the United States. I think under Mr. Suga’s leadership, Japan will continue to be an important ally of America and at the same time try to be nice to China.”

One of Suga’s supporters within the LDP is Nikai Toshihiro, long considered to be one of the party’s most pro-China members. As prime minister, Suga will probably keep Nikai as LDP secretary-general, allowing him to retain his strong influence.

This frustrates Yasuo Naito, deputy editor of the conservative-leaning Sankei newspaper, which supports the LDP.

It worries me that Mr. Nikai might push Mr. Suga towards accommodating China economically. I think that’s a mistake, especially when China and the U.S. are engaged in a new cold war,” says Naito.

South Korea just criticizes Japan and there is a really strong anti-Japanese sentiment in Korea at the moment. But the Chinese are more shrewd politically. They are thinking about the benefits of the Japan relationship. So it’s wrong to conclude that just because Mr Suga has been tough on South Korea, he will also be tough on China – they are completely different countries and different situations,” adds Naito.

In an editorial published the day after Suga was picked as LDP leader, China’s Global Times newspaper, which gives voice to mainstream (and often hawkish) political thinking, congratulated him and said that “maintaining cooperation with China will be Japan’s best choice.” It also said that “Japan no longer poses a major threat to China.”

The financial markets seemed to be reassured by the smooth transfer of power in Tokyo. Share prices and the value of the yen have held steady.

Investors expect no major change of economic policy under Suga. He has stated that his priority is to help Japan through the COVID-19 crisis and he has indicated that he will support low interest rates and more fiscal stimulus, aimed especially at helping Japan’s less developed regions. Suga is from Akita prefecture, a largely rural area, which has suffered from depopulation due to a lack of job opportunities.

Early in his second stint as prime minister, Abe laid out in his famous Abenomics program using the metaphor of three arrows. The third arrow was based on the concept of structural reform. Shigeto Nagai of Oxford Economics hopes that Suga has the energy to continue with that process. “He’s got a good track record with dealing with bureaucracy but the government has a terrible record in terms of getting to grips with fintech [financial technology], mobile apps, and IT.”

Nagai says: “To really raise the fundamental growth rate of this country, we must increase productivity. Abe was right to focus on that. Having a new prime minister who takes on bureaucracy should help but it will take years to achieve a good outcome.”

Duncan Bartlett is the editor of Asian Affairs and a former BBC Tokyo correspondent.

Source: The Diplomat “What to Expect From Japan’s New Leader”

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


Huawei says Japan ‘extremely important’ after 50% rise in procurement


New US tech ban puts Chinese company’s Asian ties under strain

Opening up a Huawei phone: The Chinese company bought $10 billion worth of Japanese supplies last year. © Reuters

TAKASHI KAWAKAMI, Nikkei staff writer

August 27, 2020 00:49 JST

GUANGZHOU — Huawei Technologies revealed Wednesday that procurement from Japanese suppliers grew by more than 50% last year while the U.S. tightened trade restrictions on the Chinese telecom equipment maker.

During an online information session, Jeff Wang, chairman of the Tokyo-based subsidiary Huawei Japan, credited the gain to Japan’s “extremely important role in global supply chains.”

Huawei’s relationships with suppliers face a new test after the U.S. this month moved to further block its access to chips and other equipment based on U.S. technology, part of a series of sanctions against the Chinese company that began last year.

Wang did not mention the U.S. restrictions during Wednesday’s online forum. But another executive appeared to play down the risk to Huawei’s supply of 5G-related components.

“We have procured from Japan since 2018, so I believe there will be no major impact,” said the executive.

Huawei “has built up long-term and stable relationships with Japanese suppliers,” Wang said.

The company bought roughly 1.1 trillion yen ($10.3 billion) worth of components and other goods from Japanese companies last year, up from 721 billion yen in 2018.

Huawei first set up its Japanese arm in 2005, and the unit employed about 950 people as of June. The company also procures heavily from China, Taiwan and South Korea.

Source: Nikkei Asian Review “Huawei says Japan ‘extremely important’ after 50% rise in procurement”

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


US Ban Unable to Kill Huawei


Asia Times’ article “South Korea is the pivot in the Huawei wars” says that as South Korea’s chip supplies to Huawei double that of US ones and as South Korea uses Dutch Extreme Ultra-Violet (EUV) lithography machines to produce 5- and 7-nanometer chips for Huawei, US ban simply cannot cut Huawei’s chip supplies from South Korea.

The US does not produce such highly advanced machines. Its ban can only stop Taiwan TSMC’s supplies of chips to Huawei as TSMC uses US equipment to produce chips for Huawei. Such ban will only cause TSMC to lose its business to South Korea.

The article says “A missing element in Washington’s campaign to stave off Chinese dominance in Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies is research and development at home”. “During the Reagan years, federal subsidies for basic R&D amounted to 1.4% of GDP, nearly double today’s level. Washington wants to throw its weight around without spending the money required to bulk up. That could end badly.”

According to the article due to the lack of R&D, though the US has succeeded in making TSMC set up a $12 billion chip plant in the US, by 2024 when the plant has been put into operation its 7-nanometer technology will be outdated as 3- and 5-nanometer technology will prevail by that time.

Moreover, according to the article, China’s SMIC ha claimed that it will have 7-nanometer capability by year-end. If so Huawei will be able to get chip supplies at home.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Asian Times’ article, full text of which can be viewed at https://asiatimes.com/2020/05/south-korea-is-the-pivot-in-the-huawei-wars/