‘Shocked’ South Korea leader orders probe into U.S. THAAD additions


FILE PHOTO: A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched during a successful intercept test, in this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency. U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency/Handout via Reuters/File Photo

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.

BOMBER DRILL

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”

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 says willing to put South Korea ties back on track, urges THAAD resolution


South Korean special envoy Lee Hae-chan (L) meets China’s President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, China May 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee

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.

INFURIATED

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”

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 risks isolation in the Asia-Pacific


Jean-Pierre Lehmann

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.

ABE-TRUMP ROMANCE

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.


China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, China’s Vital Success in Its OBOR


Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif meets Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China May 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee

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.


Will North, South Korean Diplomats Meet on Sideline of OBOR Summit?


South Korea’s new President Moon Jae-In speaks during a press conference at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on May 10, 2017. REUTERS/Jung Yeon-Je/Pool

According to Reuters, Beijing has invited and North Korea has accepted China’s invitation to attend One Belt, One Road (OBOR) summit and displeased the US as North Korean is not a country along the Silk Road.

Then, according to Reuters’ report “South Korea to attend China’s Silk Road summit amid diplomatic rift” yesterday, though upset by South Korea’s deployment of THAAD, Chinese President Xi Jinping gave South Korea a last-minute invitation to the OBOR summit. South Korea may be interested in the construction of and investment in OBOR infrastructure projects but will be a competitor to Chinese construction firms that have overcapacity to export. THAAD provides China good excuse not to invite South Korea.

Since the invitation was given after North Korea promised to send a delegation to the summit, there is naturally the speculation that China may arrange a meeting between North and South Korean diplomats on the sideline of the summit.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-silkroad-southkorea-idUSKBN1880Z9


Asia weighs risk and reward in Trump ‘bromance’ with China’s Xi


FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago state in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., April 6, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

By Ben Blanchard and Philip Wen | BEIJING Fri Apr 28, 2017 | 12:44pm EDT

U.S. President Donald Trump’s warm words for Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping as a “good man” will reassure Beijing that he finally understands the importance of good ties, but risks leaving America’s regional allies puzzling over where they fit into the new order.

The budding relationship between the two leaders appeared highly unlikely when Trump was lambasting China on the campaign trail for stealing U.S. jobs with unfair trade polices.

In December, after winning office, he upended protocol by taking a call from the president of self-ruled Taiwan, which China regards as its own territory.

A few months on, after meeting Xi at his Florida residence earlier in April, Trump appears to have done a complete volte-face, praising Xi for trying hard to rein in nuclear-armed North Korea and rebuffing Taiwan’s president’s suggestion of another call.

But the big question is whether the rapprochement will last. Trump also expressed admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin during the 2016 presidential campaign, but that relationship has since chilled.

Chinese officials will no doubt be pleased by Trump’s overtures, said Jia Qingguo, a leading academic who has advised the government on foreign policy.

“People will say that the only thing we know for sure about Donald Trump’s administration is uncertainty and unpredictability,” said Jia, dean of the School of International Studies at the elite Peking University.

“But judging from what he has been saying and doing, it’s quite reassuring as far as China is concerned. Certainly I think people have developed more positive views about the Donald Trump administration here and we have a lot of expectations that we can work together constructively.”

For China’s neighbors, it is a little more complicated.

On one level, a healthy relationship between the world’s two biggest economies suits everyone.

“It’s hugely positive that there’s been a reasonably constructive start to the bilateral dialogue between those two countries,” Tom Lembong, Indonesia’s investment chief and close aide to President Joko Widodo, told Reuters.

But long-time allies may also be wondering just how far Washington still has their back.

Shashank Joshi, senior fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London, said countries such as Japan and South Korea could lose influence if Trump’s focus on enlisting Xi’s help over North Korea creates a “sort of U.S.-China G2”.

“There are competing instincts within Trump pushing him in opposite directions,” said Joshi.

“His nationalism pushes him towards competition with China, but his deal-making instinct, his openness to personal influence, and his affinity for strongmen pushes him towards Xi, especially if he can show results on North Korea.”

But Trump, who has long touted his deal-making ability as a real estate developer, has also made clear his approach to China is transactional. He is so focused on securing cooperation against North Korea, his top national security priority, that he has even publicly promised to go easier on Beijing over critical trade issues in return.

Some of Trump’s aides doubt, however, that China will do enough to restrain North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmers. Some experts believe the thaw between the economic rivals could be fleeting if Xi fails to come through on the North Korean issue.

SOUTH CHINA SEA

Singapore-based security expert Ian Store said he believed Trump’s remarks would be closely scrutinized by Southeast Asian leaders looking for signs of an emerging Asia strategy.

“Most would welcome a calm, co-operative relationship between China and the U.S., but they will be deeply concerned at anything that looks like Trump will give Xi a free hand over the South China Sea dispute, or elsewhere,” said Storey, who is based at the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute.

The administration has so far sent out mixed rhetorical signals over the hotly disputed South China Sea. China’s extensive claims to the vital global trade route are challenged by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam, as well as Taiwan.

The U.S. has increased naval deployments in the South China Sea in recent years amid roiling tensions and extensive island-building by China but, under Trump, its warships have yet to challenge China with a so-called freedom of navigation patrol close to disputed islets and reefs.

A Trump administration official has told Reuters the United States wants to avoid antagonizing China on sensitive issues like the South China Sea for now while waiting to see how far Beijing will go tightening the screws on North Korea. But the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said this did not mean abandoning efforts to counter China’s growing military and economic might in the Asia-Pacific region.

Admiral Harry Harris, the chief of the U.S. Pacific Command, told the U.S. Congress this week that he expected to be carrying out such patrols in the South China Sea soon, and repeated earlier concerns at China’s continued militarization of the area.

“Given Trump’s newfound friendship with Xi Jinping, it might make it significantly harder for the Pacific Command to get its plans approved for the next freedom of navigation patrols,” Storey said.

UNPREDICTABLE

In Japan, often at odds with China over what Beijing views as Tokyo’s failure to properly atone for World War Two, a Japanese government source sought to downplay any impact the burgeoning Trump-Xi friendship might have on Japan-U.S. ties.

“Trump’s softened approach to Xi may seem to be some kind of shift in the balance of power but security cooperation between Japan and the United States is extremely stable and has been confirmed in the face of the current crisis situation in North Korea,” the source told Reuters.

The tricky issue of Taiwan has not gone away either, and is one of several that could upset relations.

Democratic Taiwan has many friends in Washington who will not want to allow autocratic China to get its way with the island, and the United States is bound by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself.

Wang Dong, associate professor of international studies at Peking University, said China would remain on alert for another change of direction by Trump.

“There are reasons for optimism, but we are still being realistic. There are still issues out there, from Taiwan to the South China Sea,” he said.

One Beijing-based Western diplomat told Reuters that, while China might be pleased to see Trump hang ally South Korea out to dry with his criticism of their free trade deal and demand Seoul pay $1 billion to host a U.S. anti-missile system China has strongly opposed, China should not have any illusions.

“He’s so unpredictable who knows what he’ll say next week or next month?” said the diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. “His mood turns on a pin.”

(Additional reporting by Michael Martina in Beijing; Linda Sieg in Toyko; Kanupriya Kapoor and Karen Lema in Manila; Sanjeev Miglani in New Delhi; Greg Torode in Hong Kong; Matt Spetalnick and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Alex Richardson and Frances Kerry)

Source: Reuters “Asia weighs risk and reward in Trump ‘bromance’ with China’s Xi”

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


Trump explained U.S. position on THAAD to Xi: South Korea


U.S. President Donald Trump welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago state in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.
REUTERS/Carlos Barria

U.S. President Donald Trump told South Korea on Saturday he had explained to China’s President Xi Jinping America’s position on the deployment of an anti-missile defense system to South Korea, according to a statement from South Korea’s acting leader.

Trump informed South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn in a Saturday telephone call of his summit discussion with Xi.

China has opposed the deployment of the U.S.-supplied High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in South Korea, arguing it could threaten its security, but South Korea and the United States say it is aimed at countering North Korea’s missile threat.

China has increased pressure and imposed restrictions on some South Korean companies doing business in China, which led many in the South to believe Beijing was retaliating against the deployment of the missile system.

“President Trump said he and President Xi held in-depth discussions on the seriousness of North Korea’s nuclear problem and how to respond to it, and also said he had conveyed the U.S. position on the THAAD deployment,” the statement said.

Trump pressed Xi to do more to curb North Korea’s nuclear programme in their summit meeting at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.

The U.S. military began deployment of the THAAD system in March, a day after the North test-fired four ballistic missiles.

China has not directly said it is targeting South Korean companies.

(Reporting by Jack Kim and Ju-min Park; Editing by Michael Perry)

Source: Reuters “Trump explained U.S. position on THAAD to Xi: South 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.