BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s President Xi Jinping pledged to make concerted efforts with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in to address differences between the two countries properly, the official Xinhua news agency said on Thursday.
Xi made the remarks in a congratulatory message sent to Moon on the 25th anniversary of the establishment of China-South Korea diplomatic relations, Xinhua said.
Development of China-South Korea relations made a positive contribution to regional peace and development, Xinhua cited Xi as saying. The news agency did not provide further details.
South Korea and the United States agreed to deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system in response to the growing missile threat from North Korea.
However, the installation of the missile system has angered China, which says its powerful radar will be able to look deep into its territory and undermine regional security.
China has pressed South Korean businesses through boycotts and bans, such as ending Chinese group tours to South Korea and closing most of South Korean conglomerate Lotte Group’s Lotte Mart retail stores in China.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the exchange congratulatory messages was consistent with usual practice.
Many tangible and mutual benefits had been delivered to people of both countries since the establishment of diplomatic ties, she told a daily news briefing.
“We hope the South Korean side can summarize and look back on the experiences and lessons from the 25 years of diplomatic relations and take constructive actions to appropriately address relevant sensitive issues and differences to improve relations between China and South Korea,” Hua said.
“On the issue of THAAD, China’s position is very clear, resolute and there is no change.”
Moon has also pushed China, North Korea’s most important ally and trading partner, to do more to rein in Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear weapons programs.
North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests and dozens of missile tests since the beginning of last year, significantly raising tension on the heavily militarized Korean peninsula and in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions. Two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July resulted in a new round of tougher global sanctions.
Reporting by Michael Martina; Additional reporting by Philip Wen; Editing by Michael Perry and Paul Tait
Source: Reuters “China’s Xi pledges to address differences with South Korea: Xinhua”
Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
Japan, the United States and South Korea agreed on Thursday to push for China to play a larger role in reining in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, a Japanese official said on the eve of a summit of the Group of 20 economic powers.
North Korea’s launch this week of what it said was a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile dramatically raised the stakes in the long-running battle to contain the isolated country’s nuclear weapons program.
“North Korea now constitutes a new level of threat to Japan and a clear provocation to Japan and also to the international community,” said Norio Maruyama, Japanese foreign ministry spokesman, after a meeting of the three countries’ leaders.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-In agreed at the meeting to cooperate closely to encourage China to “play an even greater role” in containing its southern neighbor.
“We had very vivid conversation on the subject and the role of China was very important” during the 75-minute meeting, Maruyama said, adding that Japan was closely monitoring Chinese companies it suspected of having links to North Korea’s weapons program.
“Abe conveyed Japan’s appreciation for the sanctions the U.S. decided to impose on Chinese organizations,” he said. “The Japanese government has been monitoring the movements of Chinese companies with deep ties to North Korea and responding appropriately” by imposing asset freezes.
Asked whether any military action was discussed, he said: “There is no discussion about the specificity of other measures we could take”.
(Reporting by Thomas Escritt and Paul Carrel; Editing by James Dalgleish)
Source: Reuters “Japan, South Korea, U.S. demand greater Chinese effort on N.Korea”
Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
Russia and China joined diplomatic forces on Tuesday and called on North Korea, South Korea and the United States to sign up to a Chinese de-escalation plan designed to defuse tensions around Pyongyang’s missile program.
The plan would see North Korea suspend its ballistic missile program and the United States and South Korea simultaneously call a moratorium on large-scale missile exercises, both moves aimed at paving the way for multilateral talks.
The initiative was set out in a joint statement from the Russian and Chinese foreign ministries issued shortly after President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping held wide-ranging talks in the Kremlin.
“The situation in the region affects the national interests of both countries,” the joint statement said. “Russia and China will work in close coordination to advance a solution to the complex problem of the Korean Peninsula in every possible way.”
North Korea said on Tuesday it had successfully test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) for the first time, which flew a trajectory that experts said could allow a weapon to hit the U.S. state of Alaska.
Russia and China both share a land border with North Korea and have been involved in past efforts to try to calm tensions between Pyongyang and the West.
Moscow and Beijing used the same joint declaration to call on Washington to immediately halt deployment of its THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea, a move Washington says is necessitated by the North Korean missile threat.
The statement said Washington was using North Korea as a pretext to expand its military infrastructure in Asia and risked upsetting the strategic balance of power in the area.
“The deployment … of THAAD will cause serious harm to the strategic security interests of regional states, including Russia and China,” the statement said.
“Russia and China oppose the deployment of such systems and call on the relevant countries to immediately halt and cancel the process of deployment.”
(Reporting by Denis Dyomkin/Vladimir Soldatkin/Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Andrew Osborn)
Source: Reuters “Russia and China tell North Korea, U.S. and South Korea to embrace de-escalation plan”
Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
By Heekyong Yang and Ju-min Park | SEOUL Tue May 30, 2017 | 5:51pm EDT
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has ordered a probe after his Defence Ministry failed to inform him that four more launchers for the controversial U.S. THAAD anti-missile system had been brought into the country, his spokesman said on Tuesday.
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system battery was initially deployed in March in the southeastern region of Seongju with just two of its maximum load of six launchers to counter a growing North Korean missile threat.
During his successful campaign for the May 9 presidential election, Moon called for a parliamentary review of the system, the deployment of which infuriated China, North Korea’s lone major ally.
“President Moon said it was very shocking” to hear the four additional launchers had been installed without being reported to the new government or to the public, presidential spokesman Yoon Young-chan told a media briefing.
Moon had campaigned on a more moderate approach to Pyongyang, calling for engagement even as the reclusive state pursues nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions and threats of more sanctions.
The Pentagon said it had been “very transparent” with South Korea’s government about THAAD deployment. “We continue to work very closely with the Republic of Korea government and we have been very transparent in all of our actions throughout this process,” Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis told a news briefing.
Separately on Tuesday, the U.S. military cheered a successful, first-ever missile defense test involving a simulated attack by an intercontinental ballistic missile, a major milestone for a program meant to defend the United States against North Korea.
The Missile Defense Agency said it was the first live-fire test against a simulated ICBM for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD), a separate system from THAAD, and called it an “incredible accomplishment.” [L1N1IW1MM]
CHINA TENSIONS EASING
Moon’s order of a probe into the THAAD launchers came amid signs of easing tensions between South Korea and China, a major trading partner.
China has been incensed over the THAAD deployment, fearing it could enable the U.S. military to see into its own missile systems and open the door to wider deployment, possibly in Japan and elsewhere, military analysts say.
South Korean companies have faced product boycotts and bans on Chinese tourists visiting South Korea, although China has denied discrimination against them.
On Tuesday, South Korea’s Jeju Air said China had approved a plan for it to double its flights to the Chinese city of Weihai from June 2.
Also, a Korean-Chinese joint drama production “My Goddess, My Mom” starring South Korean actress Lee Da-hae was told by its Chinese partner recently that it will soon be aired, according to Lee’s agent JS Pictures. Previously its broadcast had been indefinitely delayed.
An official at South Korean tour agency Mode Tour told Reuters it hoped China may lift a ban on selling trips to South Korea, which had been in place since March 15, as early as the second week of June. Although there had been no official orders from the Chinese government to lift the ban, a few Chinese travel agencies have sent inquiries about package tours, he said. However, South Korea’s Lotte Group has yet to reopen any of the 74 retail stores in China it was forced to close in March after the group allowed the installation of the THAAD system on land it owned.
The United States, which has 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea, has a mutual defence treaty with Seoul dating back to the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in a truce that has left the peninsula in a technical state of war.
South Korea’s Defence Ministry said on Tuesday it had conducted a joint drill with a U.S. supersonic B-1B Lancer bomber on Monday, which North Korea’s state media earlier described as “a nuclear bomb-dropping drill”.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe talked to Moon by phone on Tuesday and told him that dialogue for dialogue’s sake with North Korea would be meaningless, and that China’s role in exerting pressure on the North was important, Japan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
North Korea’s KCNA news agency reported that leader Kim Jong Un supervised the country’s latest missile test on Monday. It said the missile had a new precision guidance system and a new mobile launch vehicle.
Kim said North Korea would develop more powerful weapons to defend against the United States.
“He expressed the conviction that it would make a greater leap forward in this spirit to send a bigger ‘gift package’ to the Yankees” in retaliation for American military provocation, KCNA quoted Kim as saying.
(Additional reporting by Jack Kim, Hyunjoo Jin, Christine Kim and Suyeong Lee in Seoul, Kiyoshi Takenaka in Tokyo and Phil Stewart and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Writing by Bill Tarrant; Editing by Nick Macfie and James Dalgleish)
Source: Reuters “’Shocked’ South Korea leader orders probe into U.S. THAAD additions”
By Ben Blanchard | BEIJING Fri May 19, 2017 | 4:51am EDT
China wants to put ties with South Korea back on a “normal track”, President Xi Jinping said on Friday, but Beijing also urged Seoul to respect its concerns and resolve tensions over the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system that it opposes.
Relations between Beijing and Seoul, strained by disagreement over South Korea’s hosting of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, have taken on a more conciliatrory tone with the election earlier this month of President Moon Jae-in.
Xi told Moon’s representative Lee Hae-chan on Friday that his visit showed the importance the new South Korean leader attached to relations with Beijing.
“China, too, pays great attention to the bilateral ties,” Xi said in comments in front of reporters in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
“We’re willing to work with South Korea to preserve the hard-won results, properly handle disputes, put China-South Korea relations back onto a normal track and benefit both peoples on the basis of mutual understanding and mutual respect,” he said.
Lee gave Xi a hand-written letter from the popular, liberal Moon, who easily won election earlier this month to replace Park Geun-hye, who was ousted in a corruption scandal.
“President Moon said he hopes I’d also pass on his gratitude to you for your message of congratulation and the telephone call after he was elected,” Lee said, before reporters were asked to leave the room.
According to the official Xinhua news agency, Xi told Lee: “China is willing to strengthen communication with the new South Korean government… (and) continue to push for the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.”
In a separate meeting with Lee on Friday, China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi said China “hopes that South Korea can respect China’s major concerns (and) appropriately resolve the THAAD issue,” Xinhua reported.
China has been infuriated by the U.S. deployment of the THAAD system in South Korea, saying it was a threat to its security and would do nothing to ease tensions with Pyongyang.
The United States and South Korea have said the deployment is aimed purely at defending against any threat from North Korea, which experts have thought for months is preparing for its sixth nuclear test in defiance of United Nations sanctions.
South Korea has complained that some of its companies doing business in China have faced discrimination in retaliation for the THAAD deployment.
However, Xi’s comments helped push up the shares of several South Korean companies that rely on the spending of Chinese tourists, whose visits have fallen sharply amid the THAAD dispute.
Shares in Lotte Shopping (023530.KS) reversed earlier losses to rise 1.5 percent, while Hotel Shilla (008770.KS), South Korea’s second-largest duty free store operator, rose 2.8 percent. Shares in AmorePacific (090430.KS), its largest cosmetics firm, were up 0.9 percent.
The North has vowed to develop a missile mounted with a nuclear warhead that can strike the mainland United States, saying the program is necessary to counter U.S. aggression. The threat from Pyongyang presents U.S. President Donald Trump with one of his greatest security challenges.
The United States, which has 28,500 troops in South Korea to guard against the North Korean threat, has called on China to do more to rein in its ally and neighbor. Trump and Moon have both also warned that a major conflict with the North is possible.
Moon sent envoys to the United States, China, Japan and the European Union this week in what the government calls “pre-emptive diplomacy”. His envoy for Russia will leave next week.
Before leaving Seoul for Beijing, Lee said Moon could meet Xi as early as July at a Group of 20 summit in Germany, while a separate meeting could also be possible in August.
(For a graphic on North Korea’s nuclear program, click tmsnrt.rs/2n0gd92 )
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Christian Shepherd in BEIJING; Writing by Tony Munroe; Editing by Stephen Coates and Paul Tait)
Source: Reuters “China says willing to put South Korea ties back on track, urges THAAD resolution”
May 16, 2017, 5:00 am SGT
Tokyo needs to make peace with its neighbours, especially those that were its former victims.
I spent March and April at Hong Kong University teaching my course on globalisation and Asia. This coincided with a number of events and developments in this fast-moving and “Vuca” – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous – world, including the Mar-a-Lago summit that was much discussed in class. As I pointed out to the students (roughly half of whom are from China), the good news is that Mr Donald Trump does not seem to be keeping his campaign promises!
The contrast between the Sinophobic offensive campaign rhetoric and recent developments in the evolution of the China-US relationship – “the most important bilateral relationship, bar none”, as we are often reminded – border on the hallucinatory.
The atmosphere in Mar-a-Lago was more than just cordial, sweetened by Ms Ivanka Trump’s children Arabella and Joseph reciting poetry and singing a traditional folk song in Mandarin for Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan. This was an unexpected scenario!
That was on April 9. Last Thursday, hardly a month later, media headlines reported the White House hailing a concluded US-China trade deal, according to which the Chinese will open their market in a dozen areas, including credit cards, natural gas and beef. In this spirit of cooperation, Washington sent a senior delegation to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) summit that ended yesterday, which until then it had been intent on boycotting. There are noises about China engaging in the Trump Rebuild America Infrastructure Plan, while in turn the US may become a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
Thus, far from engaging in trade war, as many (including this author) had predicted, the US and China appear to be making trade love! Of course, in a Vuca world, everything is possible and this could be the proverbial calm before the storm. For now, things are certainly interesting and encouraging.
The sunshine extends beyond trade. In campaign rhetoric, in his inaugural speech, and in a number of caustic remarks (and tweets!) since then, Mr Trump had intoned that his most poisonous bone of contention with China was North Korea. To that end, he had sought to engage his Asia-Pacific allies South Korea and Japan and impose on the former the US Army’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad) anti-ballistic missile system. This was bitterly opposed by Beijing, which saw it as a means to spy on China. In the meantime, another twist in the Asia-Pacific narrative occurred with the impeachment of the hawkish former South Korean president Park Geun Hye and the election of the far more dovish Moon Jae In who has announced he is sending a senior delegation to Beijing to seek a peaceful resolution of the Thaad dispute.
WHERE IS JAPAN?
It is too early to down the cup of Baijiu and shout “Ganbei”, as things could still go terribly wrong, but the tale does illustrate once again a point I have been frequently stressing, including in this column: Japan is out of sync with what is happening in the world generally and in its Asia-Pacific neighbourhood especially.
The Japanese narrative of the period from roughly 1895 to 1995 is one of outstanding success. From feudal Asian backward isolation, Japan, alone among non-Western nations, became both a major industrial and military imperial power. It lost World War II, but this seemed to be a temporary hiatus in its rise. Less than two decades after its devastating defeat, it astonished the world with its “economic miracle” – marking the first time, to my knowledge, that the terms “economic” and “miracle” were made contiguous!
Throughout this century of brilliant – even if at times extremely bloody – ascent, Japan never had any Asian allies: only Asian colonies! It had three successive Western allies: Imperial Britain from 1902 to 1922 (during which it colonised Korea); Nazi Germany from 1938 to 1945 (during which it waged implacable war on China and most of South-east Asia, with tens of millions of deaths, including civilians); the US since 1952, during which it has been able to perform the economic miracle while riding on American security coat-tails.
Its defeat in World War II notwithstanding, it was able to retain its leadership position in Asia by virtue of having been transformed from the US’ most hated enemy to its most pampered protege. Japanese “foreign” policy, especially vis-a-vis Asia, was decided in Washington, not in Tokyo. Though denied an active military role by virtue of its US-imposed “peace Constitution”, it supported the US in the Korean and Indo-Chinese (Vietnam and Laos) wars by providing logistic support, as well as R&R (rest and recuperation) facilities for American soldiers, and repair and maintenance facilities for combat ships and planes.
Tokyo also followed to the letter US instructions in refusing to recognise Beijing as the legitimate government of China, opting instead for the renegade government of Chiang Kai Shek in Taipei. It was only after Richard Nixon’s historic visit to Mao Zedong in 1972 – taking Tokyo totally by surprise – that then Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka sheepishly hastened to Beijing in his footsteps.
In the 1980s, as the Japanese economy soared and the American economy plummeted and the relationship was marked by quite acute “trade friction” (boeki masatsu), when the Japanese economy was seen as overtaking the US economy, there was a certain xenophobic resentment of the US, illustrated by publications such as The Japan That Can Say “No” by the late co-founder of Sony Akio Morita and former governor of Tokyo Shintaro Ishihara, and by the coinage of the term “kenbei” – contempt for America.
Since 1995 – the year of the Great Hanshin earthquake – things have been going downhill for Japan: The economy has stagnated in a deflationary spiral, there was the Fukushima nuclear disaster (2011), and China’s gross domestic product surpassed Japan’s in 2010.
For the previous 100 years – 1895 was the year Japan defeated China in the first Sino-Japanese war – Japan had dominated China, a country for which many Japanese felt contempt. It is for that reason, among others, that Japan never felt compelled to acknowledge, let alone apologise for, all the crimes against humanity it perpetrated in China. Former Tokyo governor Ishihara, to cite only one example among many, stated the Nanjing massacre never occurred!
Since coming to office in 2012, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, notwithstanding his nationalism, has been fawning vis-a-vis Washington and used that as a rampart to constrain China. He enthusiastically supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership in what was seen in Tokyo as fundamentally a US-Japan-led bilateral deal to ostracise China.
He followed the American lead in being the only major Western or Asian economy not to become a member of the Beijing-led AIIB. He paid an official visit to Pearl Harbour – nice, but not necessary as Pearl Harbour was not a crime against humanity – while still refusing to visit Nanjing. Japan was not represented at the BRI summit.
When Mr Trump was elected, Mr Abe was the first head of state to go to pay tribute – in the form of a gold putter – and bask in the balmy breeze of Mar-a-Lago. Mr Trump’s bombastically cacophonic anti-Chinese tirades were undoubtedly sweet music to his ears.
Now, suddenly, unexpectedly, but strongly, the winds have changed. As the Xi-Trump romance seems to blossom, including through bilateral trade deals, participation in the BRI summit, probable membership of AIIB, Tokyo stands out pathetically as the jilted lover left holding the empty can.
It’s an interesting spectacle to watch, but also quite distressing and in many ways alarming. The winds may change again and blow in Tokyo’s direction. But in whatever direction it blows, it is an ill wind that bodes potential danger.
As a Frenchman born in 1945, my generation – in contrast to my father’s (World War II) and to my grandfather’s (World War I) – has lived in serene peace. There are a variety of factors that have determined this situation, but only one really matters: Germany has made peace with and unconditionally expressed apologies to its former victims.
There will be no solid durable peace in the Asia-Pacific until and unless Japan makes peace and unconditionally apologises to its former victims, China and Korea especially. It would be splendid if the current winds could make Tokyo wake up and face this reality. The peace and prosperity of future Asian generations depend on it.
•The writer is emeritus professor of international political economy at IMD business school, with campuses in Lausanne and Singapore, and visiting professor at Hong Kong University.
Source: Straits Times “Japan risks isolation in the Asia-Pacific”
Note: This is Straits Times’ article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.
In its report “Pakistan signs nearly $500 million in China deals at Silk Road summit” yesterday, Reuters quotes Pakistani Prime Minister Sharif as saying to Chinese President, “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a core component of your visionary initiative of the ‘One Belt-One Road'”.
In my post “The Conundrum of China’s New Silk Road Plan” on April 20, I said that China’s One Belt-One Road (OBOR) aims at establishing alternate land routes for its national security and expanding its trade with other countries. China is not rich enough to share the bounty of its economic development and to fund infrastructure gaps irrelevant to its national security or economic growth.
Sharif is wise to see the vital strategic importance of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in China’s OBOR so that he describes it as the core of Xi Jinping’s OBOR initiative.
The Corridor will facilitate Pakistan’s and Western China’s economic development and strengthen China’s and Pakistan’s defense in their border with India. Moreover, China will have a shortcut in its trade with the Middle East through the corridor.
Due to the strategic importance, Xi and Sharif signed $500 million deals for CPEC in addition to the $57 billion already pledged for its projects. Pakistani troops are active in ensuring the safety of those projects due to their importance to Pakistan’s and China’s national security.
In fact, the core projects for OBOR are but those in Pakistan, Central Asia and Russia for China’s trade to the Middle East and Europe, especially the access to oil and gas resources there.
It is Xi’s wise idea to describe OBOR as a global initiative involving lots of countries that in fact are not along China’s Silk Road in order to attract other countries’ investment and construction industries to the projects that benefit China. Japan and South Korea are interested in the infrastructures in Southeast Asia, which though is included in China’s OBOR initiative, is really not along China’s Silk Road as China’s trade routes to the Middle East, Europe and Africa through Southeast Asia have yet to go through the Indian Ocean with the risk of being cut by not only US but also Indian navy.
However, the infrastructure developed by whatever countries China, Japan, South Korea or others will facilitate rich overseas Chinese’ business in the region and thus expands China’s influence there.
As for the US, Japan and South Korea’s competition with China in developing infrastructures in Central Asia, China certainly welcomes such competition as the infrastructures will first of all be exploited by China in its trade and investment there. I do not see the wisdom in such competition as the infrastructures are in countries under Russian military dominance.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-silkroad-pakistan-idUSKBN1890KD.