Archive for Vietnam’s Neighbors

The North Korean summit and deal – by Tyler Cowen – Marginal REVOLUTION

by  Tyler Cowen June 12, 2018 at 8:46 am in Current Affairs Political Science

“Many of you have asked what I think, so here goes:

1. There is a secret (and unenforceable) deal beneath what is reported.  You may think this is good or bad, but for heaven’s sake don’t just be judging the press release.

2. If they didn’t actually agree to anything, that is fine.

3. I am reading so much yelping about how Trump “legitimized” Kim.  The status quo ex ante simply was terrible, and there is no reason to think this change is for the worse.  Trump’s great “virtue” in this regard was simply to be some mix of ignorant/disrespectful of the prior “expert consensus” and approach the problem afresh with a rather direct transactional and person-centered, personality-centered mentality.

4. As I tweeted: “Isn’t the whole point of the “deal” just to make them go visit Singapore? The real spectacle is not always where you are looking. And I hope someone brought them to the right chili crab place.”

The goal is to show the North Korean leadership there is a better way than playing the Nuclear Hermit Kingdom game.  We won’t know for some time whether this has succeeded.  Here is good FT coverage on this point.  There are in fact numerous signs that the North Koreans are considering serious reforms.  Of course those could be a feint, but the probabilities are rising in a favorable direction.  Economic cooperation with South Korea is increasing at an astonishing pace.”

Source: The North Korean summit and deal – Marginal REVOLUTION

Posted in: Korea - North and South Korea, Politics and Economics

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Opinion | Trump Was Outfoxed in Singapore – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

It sure looks as if President Trump was hoodwinked in Singapore.

Trump made a huge concession — the suspension of military exercises with South Korea. That’s on top of the broader concession of the summit meeting itself, security guarantees he gave North Korea and the legitimacy that the summit provides his counterpart, Kim Jong-un.

Within North Korea, the “very special bond” that Trump claimed to have formed with Kim will be portrayed this way: Kim forced the American president, through his nuclear and missile tests, to accept North Korea as a nuclear equal, to provide security guarantees to North Korea, and to cancel war games with South Korea that the North has protested for decades.

In exchange for these concessions, Trump seems to have won astonishingly little. In a joint statement, Kim merely “reaffirmed” the same commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula that North Korea has repeatedly made since 1992.

“They were willing to de-nuke,” Trump crowed at his news conference after his meetings with Kim. Trump seemed to believe he had achieved some remarkable agreement, but the concessions were all his own.

Source: Opinion | Trump Was Outfoxed in Singapore – The New York Times

David Lindsay:

This writer loves Nicholas Kristof, and this is another thoughtful piece by him. However, I have more to add to it. I agree with the NYT commenter, that it was nothing to Trump to give up the war games with South Korea, this was one of his promises to his base. I’m not sure he lost anything he cares about, since what he actually won, was the taking over and dominating of the American and world press. He successfully made himself the center of attention. That he shredded our relations with our NATO allies, and praised won of the most brutal dictators in the world, is a small price to pay for so much attention.

I do like another comment, that this is just a tempest in a teapot.  We are not out of danger, if Trump gets wind that he has been perceived as the weaker negotiator, in front of the whole world, he might get belligerent. Kudos to the president of South Korea for bringing this thawing about.

An expert on NPR made the astute comment, that North Korea is subtly re-balancing their position in East Asia, moving slightly towards the west, and making themselves less reliant on China, the hungry elephant in the room. Or is China a Chimera:  “(in Greek mythology) a fire-breathing female monster with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail.”

It is also important that Kim Jung-un has declared, his nuclear deterrent is in place, and he promises to his people he will improve the North Korean economy. So as long as we are patient, there is opportunity for peaceful improvement.

David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com

Posted in: David Lindsay, Korea - North and South Korea, Nicholas Kristof

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Opinion | Democrats Childishly Resist Trump’s North Korea Efforts – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“Shock! Horror! President Trump is actually doing something right.

Sadly, Democrats in Congress are responding in a quite Trumpian way: They seem more concerned with undermining him than supporting a peace process with North Korea. They are on the same side as National Security Adviser John Bolton, quietly subverting attempts to pursue peace.

While international security is complicated, here’s a rule of thumb: When you find yourself on the same side as Bolton, go back and re-examine your position.

Sure, we all wish that Trump treated Justin Trudeau or Angela Merkel with the respect that he now shows Kim Jong-un. Yes, it seems that Trump has been played by Kim. Yet another way of putting it is that Trump is finally investing in the kind of diplomatic engagement that he used to denounce, and that we should all applaud.

Trump’s newfound pragmatism is infinitely preferable to the threat of nuclear war that used to hang over all of us, so it’s mystifying to see Democrats carping about any possible North Korea deal.”

“. . . . .  Now a similar partisan petulance seems to be turning some Democrats into spoilers. Trump’s engagement with North Korea has been chaotic and should have begun with working-level talks, but it’s still better for leaders to exchange handshakes than missiles.

Granted, there’s plenty of reason to be nervous about Trump’s deal making with North Korea, and plans can still collapse. How will Trump manage Kim when he can’t even manage a summit with the Philadelphia Eagles?

Still, even if North Korea won’t hand over nuclear weapons in the next few years, I can imagine it committing in coming months to a sustained moratorium on nuclear tests and long-range missile tests, on production of plutonium and uranium fuel, on transfer of nuclear technology to other countries, such as Syria. North Korea might also destroy an ICBM or two and accept inspectors at its nuclear sites in Yongbyon. Trump and Kim might agree to exchange liaison offices and to declare peace on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea might well cheat, and these are half-steps, not rapid denuclearization. But half-steps toward peace are better than full strides toward war.”

Source: Opinion | Democrats Childishly Resist Trump’s North Korea Efforts – The New York Times

David Lindsay:

Great writing, thank you Nicholas Kristof.  The comments are mostly so negative. As my father liked to say, Don’t let the bastards get you down.

It is ethnocentric to expect North Korea to denuclearize now, but not naive, to think that peace would serve both Koreas and the world. Trump really needs to be contained, since he is so untrustworthy. The real work of peace will be by North and South Korea and their real neighbors.

Here is a comment that I found pleasantly optimistic and could recommend:

Hamid Varzi
Tehran
Times Pick

Donald Trump is irrelevant to the peace process, because he is unpredictable and untrustworthy. If peace occurs it will be in spite of Trump, as no traditional U.S. ‘enemy’ would eschew its only deterrent against a U.S. military attack.

The Koreas will make peace, the North will maintain its nuclear warheads at current levels of readiness, and Trump will claim ‘victory’ in the same way that a rooster claims credit for the sunrise.

Posted in: David Lindsay, Korea - North and South Korea, Nicholas Kristof

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122 Pregnant Whales Were Killed in Japan’s Latest Hunt. Was This Illegal? – The New York Times

By Tacey Rychter      

“More than 120 pregnant female whales were among 333 killed during Japan’s recent annual summer hunt off the coast of Antarctica, according to a new report.

The report, released by the International Whaling Commission this month, said 122 of the slaughtered minke whales were pregnant and 114 were considered immature.

The last hunting season in the Antarctic for Japan ran from Dec. 8 to Feb. 28.

Conservationists said the new report was further evidence that Japan was killing whales for commercial purposes under the guise of scientific research.”

Source: 122 Pregnant Whales Were Killed in Japan’s Latest Hunt. Was This Illegal? – The New York Times

Posted in: Japan, Species Extinction

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Race Against the Rains- video of Rohingya in Bangladesh – The New York Times

Video trip through the largest refugee camp in the world.

The Rohingya in Bangladesh prepare for the coming monsoon rains.

About this article

 

NYTIMES.COM
The race to rebuild the world’s largest refugee camp, where monsoon rains threaten flooding, landslides and disease.

Source: Race Against the Rains – The New York Times

 

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/12/21/world/asia/how-the-rohingya-escaped.ht

Posted in: Bangladesh, Rohingya of Myanmar

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Opinion | Think Military Strikes Could Stop North Korea? Try It and See. – By MARK FITZPATRICK – NYT

“United States-North Korean relations have been a rollercoaster in recent months. Escalating missile tests from Pyongyang and taunting tweets from the White House in 2017 were followed by a period of seeming rapprochement as President Trump and North Korea’s supreme leader, Kim Jong-un, agreed to meet for a summit to discuss “denuclarization.” And now things seem to be taking another turn for the worse.

On Thursday, Mr. Trump, in a fiery letter to Mr. Kim, called off the summit, following North Korea’s clarifications that it would not immediately give up its nuclear weapons. The Trump administration, led by the hawkish national security adviser John Bolton, seems to once again be contemplating military options. In his letter to Mr. Kim, Mr. Trump wrote, “You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.”

The results of any American military action against North Korea could be disastrous. To truly understand the consequences of what such a strike would mean, click through the options presented below.

This is an exercise based on what we know about American policy, North Korea’s military and the strategic calculus of Northeast Asia. It isn’t a sure thing, but it should make clear pretty quickly that the outcome of war on North Korea will be bad, worse or much, much worse.”

Source: Opinion | Think Military Strikes Could Stop North Korea? Try It and See. – The New York Times

David Lindsay:  To science based, law respecting environmentalists like myself, Donald Trump is an embarrassment and a disaster.  This war game set of scenarios by points out many of the serious problems of going to war with North Korea. Sun Tzu would laugh himself into another life, if he could witness such foolishness. His disciples in China must be smiling, while his disciples in Vietnam are probably crying.

Posted in: David Lindsay, Korea - North and South Korea, Military Affairs and Espionage

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Opinion | China Has a Vast Influence Machine- and You Don’t Even Know It – By Yi-Zheng Lian – NYT

By Yi-Zheng Lian

Mr. Lian, a native of Hong Kong, is a former lead writer and chief editor of the Hong Kong Economic Journal. May 21, 2018 Image CreditMatt Chase

“Amid all the hoopla about Russia’s covert attempts to manipulate the 2016 American presidential election, one state has been conspicuously quiet: China. Yet its leaders may well be sneering at the Russians’ heavy hand. Since the project masterminded from Moscow largely relied on social media in the United States, American techies were bound to find out about it soon enough. Likewise with the baldfaced poisoning of an ex-Russian spy and his daughter in Britain, which has also been pegged to Moscow. Too crude, too traceable, these operations could only generate a backlash.

China, too, can be a bully, especially with Asian governments in its immediate sphere of influence — imposing economic sanctions on South Korea for deploying defensive missiles or orchestrating the kidnapping of book publishers from Hong Kong and Thailand. But it doesn’t usually set out to openly hurt or antagonize stronger opponents like the United States; instead, it tries to quietly gain an edge for the long haul.

Rather than coercing, China manipulates, preferring to act in moral and legal gray areas. It masks its political motives behind laudable human-interest or cultural projects, blurring the battle line with its adversaries. When the job is done, the other side may not realize it was gamed, or that a strategic game was even going on.”

Source: Opinion | China Has a Vast Influence Machine, and You Don’t Even Know It – The New York Times

Posted in: China, Intelligence

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Opinion | What Really Happens in China’s ‘Re-education’ Camps – By Rian Thum – NYT

“What does it take to intern half a million members of one ethnic group in just a year? Enormous resources and elaborate organization, but the Chinese authorities aren’t stingy. Vast swathes of the Uighur population in China’s western region of Xinjiang — as well as Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and other ethnic minorities — are being detained to undergo what the state calls “transformation through education.” Many tens of thousands of them have been locked up in new thought-control camps with barbed wire, bombproof surfaces, reinforced doors and guard rooms.

The Chinese authorities are cagey and evasive, if not downright dismissive, about reports concerning such camps. But now they will have to explain away their own eloquent trail of evidence: an online public bidding system set up by the government inviting tenders from contractors to help build and run the camps.

Uighurs have more in common, culturally and linguistically, with Turks than Han Chinese, and many Uighurs are Muslim. Resentful of China’s heavy-handed rule in the region, some have resisted it, usually through peaceful means, but on occasion violently, by attacking government officials and, exceptionally, civilians. The state, for its part, fuels Islamophobia by labeling ordinary Muslim traditions as the manifestation of religious “extremism.””

Source: Opinion | What Really Happens in China’s ‘Re-education’ Camps – The New York Times

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, China

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Opinion | The Promise of Malaysia’s Old-New Leader – The New York Times

“An autocratic politician emerges from retirement at age 92 to defeat his handpicked but appallingly corrupt successor, and to clear the way for a former deputy he had imprisoned on trumped-up charges. It’s an unlikely plot for a political thriller, but that’s what is happening in Malaysia. And if things play out according to Mahathir Mohamad’s plan, the situation could represent a rare, if curious, victory for democracy in a part of the world where the trend has been in the opposite direction.

Mr. Mahathir, the nonagenarian, dominated Malaysian politics as prime minister from 1981 to 2003, guiding the country through rapid modernization and economic expansion. He also ran the nation with an iron fist, and among his victims was his charismatic protégé, deputy and presumed heir, Anwar Ibrahim, who was imprisoned in 1998 on sham charges of sodomy and corruption. Instead, Mr. Mahathir was followed in office by two handpicked successors.

The second of these, Najib Razak, stands accused of staggering corruption. The American Justice Department, which has been investigating the theft of Malaysian public funds because they were laundered through the United States, says at least $3.5 billion was stolen under Mr. Najib, with $731 million ending up in his personal account.”

Source: Opinion | The Promise of Malaysia’s Old-New Leader – The New York Times

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, Malasia

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Opinion | The U.S. and China Are Finally Having It Out – by Thomas Friedman – NYT

“The assumption was that as China grew, and the W.T.O. moved to a new regime, China would quickly cut its tariffs — like its 25 percent tax on car imports, compared with the 2.5 percent tariff imposed by the U.S. But the W.T.O. still has not completed a new trade round and China has refused to voluntarily lower its tariffs.

Moreover, China developed an industrial policy that often bent W.T.O. rules. The government gave away cheap land, and state-guided banks granted cheap loans for new industries, but foreign companies that wanted access to China’s market were forced to pay to play — to have a Chinese partner and be willing to transfer their advanced technology to them.

As a result, over time, Beijing was able to force multinationals to shift more and more of their supply chains to China, and grow Chinese competitors to Western companies in its protected market, and then, once they were big enough, unleash them on the world as giants.

Even when the U.S. protested to the W.T.O. — as in the case of how China unfairly kept U.S. credit card companies out, then lost the arbitration case at the W.T.O. — China still dragged its feet before following through on promises made 17 years earlier to open up. By then, Chinese companies, like UnionPay, so dominated China’s credit card market that U.S. companies, like Visa, were left with the crumbs.

Meanwhile, Chinese government-guided companies and investment funds went abroad and began to buy up strategic industries to bring their technology back to China — like Germany’s biggest and best robotics company, Kuka.”

Source: Opinion | The U.S. and China Are Finally Having It Out – The New York Times

Thank you Thomas Friedman. Yes. And here are some of the top comments at the NYT I recommended.

allan slipher
port townsend washington
Times Pick

“..there is a trade imbalance today because we’ve been investing in our future and you Americans have been eating yours.”

Spot on. Wake up call, America.

Our choice is self indulgent consumerism, cheap political theatrics, empty celebrity worship, and self absorbed rants, or redirecting ourselves and doubling down on basic research, education, infrastructure, well paid work, investment in the well being of our children and grandchildren and upholding the rule of law.

Bruce Rozenblit commented May 1

Bruce Rozenblit
Kansas City, MO
Times Pick

China employs state run capitalism. The US employs market capitalism. China views government as an asset. The US views government as an enemy. China pays to have its brightest students educated in the worlds greatest universities. In the US, we question why we even have universities, let alone want to pay for them. China follows decade long economic plans. The US is ruled by quarterly profits. China cheats. We don’t tax the billionaire class. In China, civil rights are forfeit. In the US, money has more rights than people. China is destroying the environment for quick growth. In the US, we want to destroy the environment for feeble growth. China pursues multi-national trade and investment policies. In the US, we used to and now want to pursue only unilateral policies.

So who wins? China will win. Trump did have the right idea about China getting away with murder. Many of our largest corporations made a fortune off of cheap Chinese goods, so we went along with it for years.

Until and unless we straighten out our twisted and self defeating ways, we cannot out compete China. The first step is to stop demonizing the government and allow government to participate in business. The ExIm bank is a good example. Big business in the rest of the industrialized world has government involvement. It’s about time we joined the club. We call it redistribution. They call it public investment.

Cap’n Dan Mathews commented May 1

Cap’n Dan Mathews
Northern California

So everything you wrote is pertinent, Friedman. What you fail to mention is that China did not engage in expeditions in search of missions, including the Iraq war which you enthusiastically supported, thus saving untold trillions of yuan which they used to do much of what you mention regarding enhancing their position.

Golflaw commented May 2

Golflaw
Columbus, Ohio
Times Pick

Tom, nothing new here regardless of your 3 part play. Some of us dumb intellectual property lawyers wondered 30 years ago why our US Fortune 100 clients had us draft joint venture agreements with Chinese companies that licensed US high end intellectual property to those ventures. We were told it was worth it to have access to a market of more than a billion people. Never happened but the Chinese got US technology and
US companies got rid of US factories and employees for higher profits of Chinese “stuff” exported to the US and sold at WalMart.

Christy commented May 2

Christy
Times Pick

If this is a battle for the future we are not only late getting out of the starting block but racing to the past. While China invests in infrastructure and education we have allowed our infrastructure to crumble and stifled education spending. As a result, we have fallen far behind the rest of the world in STEM graduates. While Xi focuses on next-generation industries like artificial intelligence, renewable energy, biotech and aerospace, Trump wants to reopen coal mines, keep us dependent on fossil fuels and restore a nostalgic but hopelessly out of date manufacturing base. While the rest of the world embraces science and accepts the challenge of climate change, we have a political party in charge of government that denies science and dismantles the environmental protections enacted by prior administrations. And we have a president intent on tearing up all the treaties and alliances that help preserve our national security.

Posted in: China, Thomas Friedman

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