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Archive for the ‘China’ Category

Nuke ’em! (But please don’t)

In China, Foreign Policy, North Korea, The United States on September 4, 2017 at 12:27 pm

Either my hangover was really bad over the weekend or the constant sabre-rattling between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un was really that loud to pierce the inside of my temples and give me a headache.

Donald Trump likes to tweet and he makes it well known how he feels about North Korea and what he would do. He’s used such rhetoric as raining “fire and fury” on North Korea and saying that the US is locked and loaded. Kim Jong Un decided to respond on Sunday by hitting a personal milestone for his country. The most powerful nuclear detonation the nation has achieved so far.

So today we have military drills by South Korea simulating a North Korean attack, Donald Trump criticizing South Korea’s strategy, and a claim by North Korea that they now have the ability to make their nuclear weapon small enough to put it on an ICBM.

Sounds pretty scary right? That’s because it is.

There are two lines of thought, or strategies, in dealing with North Korea.

The first one, which is currently the status quo, is a mix of sanctions, multilateral talks, and negotiations usually led by North Korea’s closest ally, China. This has been going on for a while now and it has pretty much worked because North Korea hasn’t nuked anyone. There have been many starts and stops over the years but it has been pretty stable.

That started to recently change with the continued imprisonment of Americans visiting North Korea, the most recent and disturbing being Otto Warmbier who was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment with hard labor, fell into a coma shortly thereafter, was finally released to the United States and then died. The family refused an autopsy and there hasn’t been any confirmation on how he died.

The second one, which has been floating around out there for quite some time, is that North Korea is on the verge of collapse and by confronting them and forcing them to respond by holding military drills, missile tests, and ramping up its nuclear program, it will only accelerate the inevitable. Think of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States. So it’s not a surprise that you are hearing a lot of hard talk. The US Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, believes that further talks will only make it worse and actually suggested that the only way to solve this thing is for the south to take it over. US Secretary of Defense James Mattis also used the threat of ‘total annihilation’ of North Korea. Or in short, the only solution is to hit it fast and hit it hard. Basically nuke the hell out of them.

So who is right and who is wrong?

The scary thing is that we have no idea. North Korea is secretive and it’s hard to judge what is actually happening. Though sometimes they let us know, albeit unintentionally (I didn’t know Yahoo! sports covered foreign policy). The belief that it is on the verge of collapsing is based on the assumption that its communist based economy is not working and corruption on a massive scale by government officials is jeopardizing any growth that it could possible obtain. And this may not be entirely true.

Also if there were a military option on the table, and President Trump did say that all options are on the table, the strike would have to be very very big. And even then it may not be able to completely eliminate all of Kim’s short-range missiles.

And then there’s China.

Many have stated the only reason North Korea hasn’t collapsed is because of the economic support China provides. At least two-thirds of North Korea’s trade is with China after all. Therefore China has decided to link itself to North Korea and one cannot really discuss one without mentioning the other. China has positioned itself to be a superpower and is also quite sensitive on how it’s perceived in the international relations arena. And Beijing is indeed losing its patience when it comes to North Korea because it does have legitimate concerns on what could happen should North Korea collapse, including the possible tidal wave of refugees to China.

I do agree somewhat that direct confrontation with North Korea would probably accelerate its collapse. But should this be the end goal or is the end goal forcing North Korea to discontinue its nuclear program and stop launching missiles? If it’s the latter then direct nuclear confrontation is probably not the way to go because as mentioned above, it wouldn’t work 100%. Whether President Trump likes it or not he must work with China and China is and remains the key to this situation. After all it’s still North Korea’s most important ally, which makes this whole thing interesting from an international relations perspective especially because it’s still building islands in the Pacific, pissing off South Korea, Japan and the Philippines.

I would personally conclude that China is losing in this situation and it will be forced to change its policy toward North Korea regardless. And nuclear weapons wouldn’t help. More sanctions possibly. But definitely not more angry tweets. So perhaps stop tweeting? I don’t want our inevitable nuclear destruction to be caused by an angry white guy’s offending tweets. Especially since twitter is probably banned in North Korea. Which does bring a bit of irony in this situation.

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Weekend Round-Up – 01/09/2017

In China, India, Weekend Round-Up on September 1, 2017 at 12:30 pm

With huge floods in Houston turning into huge turnouts at Donald Trump’s political rally, it’s been an eventful week. Here’s your round-up for this weekend.

Like most of society, Applebees finally said fuck you to millennials and decided to go back to their good ole fashioned mid-western roots. I’m not sure what that means and I was at an Applebees last year and I didn’t realize they changed. Apparently the chain spent $40 million installing fire grills to attract these kids…I didn’t know millennials were particularly drawn to fire grills. Have you ever tried to make pulled pork on a fire grill?

Speaking of hipsters China had something special going on this week. Pictures of an 85-year-old farmer in a suit who tended rice paddies his whole life went viral. The pictures were taken by his grandson. The farmer never wore a suit and never visited Beijing before and the whole of China thought it was cute. Though I’m pretty sure his grandson never tended rice paddies before. But children who do tend rice paddies in China look cute as reported by Kristin, an American blogger who saw it first hand.

Staying on topic of viral things in Asia a cute video emerged of two doctor’s fighting over a pregnant woman arguing whether or not she had eaten before surgery. The baby and mother were both fine though but a baby did die a few feet away. Hospital spokesman said those two events were unrelated.

On Monday we had a post about the floods in Houston and the Anheuser-Busch brewery paused its beer production to can emergency drinking water. I think the process was finding transparent gallon sized plastic buckets, taking cans off the line, opening the cans, and pouring them into said buckets…because you know…Budweiser is like water. Baddaboom.

Sean Spicer finally met with Pope Francis this week. I guess the Pope was distracted and didn’t notice that two of his nuns went missing and were too busy robbing a bank in Pennsylvania.

Mark Hamill used the force and his Twitter god-status to donate to a campaign to remove Donald Trump from Twitter. He said it was all a joke though because Trump’s tweets are admissible evidence to whenever someone/something/Mike Pence sues/fires/replaces him

In related childhood movie news, I don’t know about you but IT scared the shit out of me. I remember my parents encouraging me to tune in just at the point where he pulls that little kid down the sewer thing, luring him there with a paper folded hat. I was scared of clowns from that moment on. IT ruined lives and it looks like the remake is continuing where the original left off. Clowns are now losing work because of it, or should I say IT. Also I didn’t know the fear of clowns was called coulrophobia. The more you know.

Finally in Dutch news (get your Google translators ready):

Albert Heijn was being a dick again.

The third edition of counting bikes is going to be bigger than ever this year (I didn’t know this was a thing).

Three students from Leiden were plucked from the highway by police on Tuesday trying to hitchhike. Apparently someone drove them to Amsterdam, dumped them there, and told them they had to find their own way back as part of their unique hazing ritual. Oh, they were also wearing Totally Spies! costumes. The police were kinda sorta amused but not really. It’s definitely an international relations nightmare as confirmed by a police spokesperson who stated, “Think about how something like this looks to the outside world.”

Being a person from the outside world, I had to google what the fuck Totally Spies! are.

 

 

Dancing with the dragon

In China, Foreign Policy, The United States on September 11, 2009 at 8:59 am

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has stated that China and the U.S. are starting a dialogue on issues of counter-terrorism. This reveals the nature of the Chinese / American relationship regarding foreign issues.

Indeed, each country’s respective foreign policies are a result of very different domestic pressures and political goals. China’s foreign policy is based solely on its need for resources as a result of government pressure in sustaining large domestic growth. Therefore it’s no surprise that its official line on doing business in Africa, in particular in Angola, Republic of Congo, Sudan, and Nigeria, is based out of respecting sovereignty by separating politics from economics. Any condemnation by human rights groups or governments of China investing in areas of conflict where conflict diamond mining is taking place, or child soldiers or workers are being used is usually met with a Chinese response that sovereignty must be respected and it’s not their right to interfere.

The United States on the other hand is finding its population to be more interested in domestic policies than foreign policy, a trend that is a post-Cold war phenomenon. This is strengthened by the media that covers issues outside of America’s border in a specific framing of an event and in a minute time frame. A good example is the framing of the crises in Somalia in the early nineties as a humanitarian crisis. This caused the U.S. mandate to be very specific and limited when it decided to intervene and failed to grasp the political and sociological origins of the crisis. The American population therefore did not have a realistic grasp of what the conflict was, and as images were displayed of a U.S. soldier’s body being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, there was heavy pressure from Congress to send the boys home. A lack of interest in world affairs makes it hard for the United States to produce a concrete foreign policy, as Henry Kissinger has observed, and produced a dichotomy, in that what the U.S. promises may not be what it delivers after pressure from Congress has been applied. Therefore to use a term coined by Joseph Nye Jr, the U.S.’ soft power is also undermined when it proves that it can’t deliver on promises regarding trade benefits or other economic policies.

Despite these trends in both state’s foreign policies, there is always rhetoric of the two countries needing to work together. After all, China is a rising power and the U.S. is already the superpower, but the question remains, can they cooperate on sensitive issues?

As Hillary Clinton announced in the above linked article, there are a few issues, in which China and the U.S. can agree on. The main one is, and has been since 9/11, counter-terrorism. China’s territory consists of major minority groups who are dissatisfied with their current political and economic situation. From Tibet to the Xinjiang region, China is currently struggling in figuring out how to manage their minority populations who happen to reside in areas of great geopolitical importance. The Tibetan area is a major source of money from tourism and the Xinjiang area is rich in natural resources. Both of these areas constitute large chunks of Chinese territory, and efforts to keep these areas under control are one of Beijing’s top priorities.

Washington is determined to get Beijing to contribute more resources to international problems and convince China to act more sternly against Iran’s nuclear ambitions and North Korea’s irrationality. Issues such as the rule of law, though important, is already the top agenda for many NGOs and the European Union, and as the standard of living in China increases due to its economic performance, political rights will eventually be demanded upon by a rising middle class. Hillary Clinton is wise to realize this trend and therefore focus American / Chinese dialogue on issues that can serve both of their needs, as well as put the U.S. in a position to make an impact. However, the Obama administration has a fine line to walk. It must not give China a carte blanche in how it acts towards its minority populations out of an excuse that cracking down violently to protests is one of their counter-terrorism measures, which occurred when Russia cracked down heavily in the Chechnya region, shortly after Bush declared a war on terror.

China is an important country, but an influential one in the making. The Obama administration has a great opportunity to plant seeds that can contribute to closer relations in the future. But it must not do so out of the cost of complying with Chinese aggressions against their minority populations.