Friday, December 13, 2019

Tokyo Olympics 2020 Sing a Long

Japanese hit song “Paprika”that is the official Tokyo Olympics song 
has gone global and viral with this English version and multi-cultural cast. 
It was released November 19, 2019.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Merry Christmas Mr. Trump


By Daniel Sneider, Associate Editor, Nelson Report, Stanford University, and APP member

The resumption of a war of words between the North Korean regime and the Trump administration should set off alarm bells in Washington, Tokyo and other capitals. While it is not yet at the level of the 'fire and fury' rhetoric of 2017, the North Koreans are clearly laying the groundwork to resume the testing of long-range ballistic missiles suspended since early 2018. Analysts report signs of preparatory activity at launch sites. Hanging over this is a deadline, set by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last April, of the end of the year to reach a deal with the United States.

The North Koreans have rolled out a series of statements from senior foreign ministry and military officials, reiterating those warnings and responding with unusual speed to comments from U.S. officials, including the loose talk of President Donald Trump at the NATO meeting. North Korean Chief of the General Staff, General Pak Jong Chon, warned Trump about "elated spirit and bluffing" leading to war. "The use of armed forces is not the privilege of the U.S. only," Gen Pak said in a statement released on December 4.

Despite these signs, many analysts interpret this as business as usual for Pyongyang. They see the escalating rhetoric as a standard North Korean tactic designed to force the U.S. back to the negotiation table. In this view, the North Koreans still want to make the deal they have been seeking since last year -- to lift economic sanctions in exchange for limited steps to cut back their nuclear arms capability. According to those analysts, the breakdown in negotiations at the Hanoi summit last February was mainly the consequence of an 'all or nothing' American approach and the road to a limited bargain more along the lines of what Pyongyang offered remains open.

"Their goal has not changed: they want the Americans back at the negotiation table," wrote Seoul-based Russian scholar Andrei Lankov in NK News. "They still need a deal that will serve their interests - above all, in regard to sanctions relief. But as they have not been able to find a sufficiently sweet carrot to get what they want, they will stick to the stick for now."

The North Koreans have reason to believe they can successfully escalate tensions without much risk. "The North Koreans seem confident that the U.S. and ROK non-response to their ballistic missile tests and other recent actions means there is room for Pyongyang to push the envelope of U.S.-ROK tolerance and even toe-up to a U.S. red line," observes former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific, Evans Revere. "They may well be right, since we currently have two conflict-averse leaders in the Blue House and the White House, both of whom are under some pressure because of upcoming elections.

The resumption of a robust testing program risks reinvigorating the sanctions regime, which has been eased in the last year and a half. "At the moment, it is very difficult to see the rekindling of 'maximum pressure' but long-range missile testing could resuscitate that effort and that is not in North Korea's interest, particularly since it can already claim a long-range missile capability," Naval War College expert Terence Roehrig told me.

"However," he added, "I'm not sure they see it that way. If the economic situation is sufficiently dire, Pyongyang may believe it has no choice but to roll the dice on this."

Pyongyang's Strategic Decision
As is often the case, there is a tendency to impose on North Korea our own logic. Some long-time analysts of North Korea in the Intelligence Community believe, however, that the North Korean leadership made the decision to abandon the negotiations last summer, convinced that there was little hope of getting what they wanted out of Trump. They point to a trail of evidence - - mostly in open statements by the regime - - of a significant shift in strategy.

At the beginning of the opening of Pyongyang's peace offensive, in early 2018, Kim had announced that the regime was moving away from the byungjin policy of pursuing parallel goals of economic growth and building military strength, in favor of a shift of resources and focus to a more open, market-driven economy. Analysts argued the regime had made a strategic shift, and therefore it was open to denuclearization in exchange for economic development. Skeptics who pointed out the consistent refusal of the North Koreans to open its program to outside scrutiny or take irreversible steps to shut down its weapons program were dismissed.

The Singapore summit in 2018 seemed to lend credibility to those views, clearly held by Trump himself. But things clearly changed in the aftermath of the failed Hanoi summit in February 2019, where the North Korean bid to exchange lifting of all the major economic sanctions in exchange for vague and limited steps to shut down some of its nuclear facilities fell flat. In his April 12 speech, which set the year-end deadline for a negotiated deal with the U.S., Kim re-embraced the goals of autarchic economy and a nuclear armed defense. "As we put an end to the prolonged nuclear threat by dint of nukes," Kim declared, "we must frustrate the hostile forces' sanctions on the strength of self-sufficiency and self-reliance."

On August 31, the North Korean party paper published a 'special article' declaring that defense industry must now "lead" the national economy. Only military power can guarantee the survival of the state and the country, the paper wrote, echoing earlier comments by Kim at a weapons test. The tests of missile systems, including of a submarine launched missile, resumed with growing frequency. At the same time, the North Korean regime escalated pressure on the progressive Moon Jae-in government in Seoul to cut ties with Washington, demanding an end to even minor joint military exercises planned with the U.S.

The decision to effectively end negotiations appears to have been made sometime in the summer, a long-time former senior U.S. intelligence analyst believes. Kim agreed to hold working level talks after a hastily organized meeting with Trump at the Demilitarized Zone in Panmunjom in June but those talks did not convene until early October, in Stockholm. The talks lasted only one day, with the North Koreans issuing a lengthy statement at the end of the day denouncing the U.S. for failing to move from "its old stance and attitude."

Some U.S. and South Korean commentators leaped to echo this statement, blaming the U.S. for refusing to shift away from its demand for major steps by the North Koreans before giving any sanctions relief. But U.S. negotiators led by envoy Steve Biegun insist that they in fact had offered new ideas to ease sanctions and offered a phased approach.

Instead there is evidence that the North Koreans never had any intention to engage in serious negotiations. According to two former U.S. intelligence officers who have been in close touch with Amb Biegun and his team, the North Korea delegation arrived at the talks with their full statement already in hand. The North Koreans also insisted that the talks last no longer than one day. Both are taken as evidence that the North Koreans never intended to grapple with the substance of a possible agreement to be discussed at a summit. Any previous serious talks have always taken at least two days, to allow for consultation with the leadership, even talks held in Pyongyang.

The door to a third major summit with Trump remains slightly open - - the North Koreans are still careful not to attack him personally and are said to seek a Trump visit to Pyongyang. That would be an enticing prospect for Kim, but there is no indication of Trump's readiness to take such a political risk.

The clearest sign that Pyongyang is no longer waiting on Trump came with a rare announcement this past week by the Workers Party of Korea (WPK) Central Committee Politburo Presidium (the inner core of the leadership) to convene a Party Plenum in the last 10 days of December. The plenum, the announcement said, will "discuss and decide on important issues in line with the demands of the changed internal and external situations," a formula that hints they have concluded already that the U.S. will not "withdraw its hostile policy."

The announcement was accompanied by a propaganda show in the form of photos and videos of Kim, astride a white horse, accompanied by his wife, senior party leaders and key military commanders, all following on horseback, visiting the sacred site of Mt Paektu, the symbol of the birth of the regime. That visit, the second in the last two months, was preceded by a visit to a showcase tourist complex near the Chinese border, intended to attract a growing flow of Chinese tourists. This is now the path for regime survival - - self-reliance, with key Chinese support, and emphasis on a toughened militarized regime.

"The announcement of the plan for the plenum later this month, along with the unusually long report of Kim's latest appearance on Paektu (accompanied by corp commanders) means we won't have to wait long to see what's in store," a former senior intelligence community expert told me. "There are still three weeks left in December for Washington to head off Kim's deadline, but scheduling the plenum suggests Kim has already made up his mind and isn't going to wait."

What will Kim do?
What is Kim going to do? Most U.S. experts see no evidence of preparation, either on the ground or in statements, for a resumption of nuclear tests, at least for now. Instead speculation has focused on a long-range missile test, perhaps one disguised as a satellite launch. Satellite imagery analyzed by non-proliferation program at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies this week shows renewed activity at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, including the facility's engine test stand which had been shut down as part of the test freeze. There are also some signs of renovation work at a launch site in eastern North Korea which had been dormant since 2009 but used to launch missiles over and toward Japan, says Middlebury senior researcher Joshua Pollack.

"I had been inclined to seeing a renewal of space launches as Kim's best shot at threading the needle - sticking to his April 20, 2018 commitments, and therefore not unduly alarming or offending Beijing - while defying the Security Council and poking Japan in the eye," he told me. But Pollack thinks the North Koreans may not even bother with that thin cover. "ICBM testing may be in our near future, perhaps even over Japan into the Pacific," he said.

The North Koreans, in typical fashion, have already set the stage for precisely this kind of missile test. In a nasty attack on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, published on November 30, a senior foreign ministry official responded to Abe's criticism of the test of a multiple launch rocket system with a much more ominous threat. "Abe may see what a real ballistic missile is in the not distant future, and under his nose," the statement said.

Japanese may well celebrate the New Year with alarm bells on their cell phones, alerting them to a North Korean missile heading their way.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Giving Tuesday - Support our research

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Friday, November 22, 2019

Chinese Repression of Muslims in Xinjiang Echoes Across Central Asia

By: Paul Goble

First Published by Eurasia Daily Monitor, Jamestown Foundation, November 21, 2019

Beijing’s efforts to expand its power in Central Asia by investment and cooperation with the governments in the region (see China Brief, November 19, 2019; see EDM, April 4, 2019, January 30, 2018, August 2, 2016) are currently being undercut by the reactions of Central Asian populations to China’s repression of their co-ethnics and fellow Muslims in Xinjiang. Central Asians know far more about Chinese actions there than many might expect for three reasons: 1) the flight of such people from China to Central Asia, 2) the use of the Internet by Uyghurs and other activists to tell the world and particularly Central Asia about their plight, and 3) the exploitation of this information by opposition politicians in Central Asian countries.

Many members of the Central Asian nationalities currently living in Xinjiang have ancestors who escaped there after the Soviets crushed the Basmachi movement (Turkestan Liberation Organization) in the 1920s and 1930s. But over the past several months, they have been fleeing western China in increasing numbers and, upon arrival to their ancestral homelands, telling their co-ethnics about the concentration camps that the Chinese authorities have confined them to in the hopes of “re-educating” them away from Islam and national traditions and toward Beijing’s preferred values. The massive scale of this flight was highlighted in a recent report issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan. It states that during the first nine months of 2019, 4,500 ethnic Kazakhs from China resettled in Kazakhstan with the right of permanent residence as “oralmans,” the name Nur-Sultan has used for co-ethnic returnees (, November 17;, September 19).

Their personal accounts of mistreatment at the hands of the Chinese have inflamed Kazakhstani opinion, which had already been growing more hostile to Beijing because of Uyghur use of the Internet to document Chinese repression. In a recent issue of the Central Asian Survey, Rachel Harris of London’s SOAS and independent scholar Aziz Isa report on the way this works in an article entitled “Islam by Smartphone: Reading the Islamic Revival on WeChat.” Because this channel has proven so influential in Central Asia, and especially in Kazakhstan, it has attracted enormous attention there by independent media there and, thus, had a dramatic effect on the populations (, March 6).

This development appears to have contributed in a significant way to the spread of anti-Chinese protests in Kazakhstan this fall. Those demonstrations, some of the largest in that country’s history, have taken place in almost all major cities and have put strains on relations between Kazakhstan and China. To be sure, the reports from Xinjiang and first-person accounts by those who fled that Chinese region are not the only cause. Many Central Asians have long resented the fact that the Chinese have often behaved extremely arrogantly in their dealings with the governments in the region, seemingly exploiting them in an openly neo-colonial way, and not providing these countries with the kind of support (relative to the Russian Federation and other outside powers) they had hoped China’s involvement would create (see EDM, September 10).

Anti-Chinese attitudes, linked to the Xinjiang case and otherwise, are not confined to Kazakhstan but exist, and appear to be intensifying, in all the countries of the region, with Chinese involvement in their economies and politics and Chinese mistreatment of their co-ethnics in Xinjiang being the leading causes. According to Bishkek-based journalist Pavel Dyatlentko, anti-Chinese attitudes have been on the rise throughout Central Asia; and whenever they have led to protests, Beijing reacted quickly and punitively, shutting consulates and suspending investment projects—actions that are only making the situation worse (, September 11).

In Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, he says, some Kyrgyz and Tajiks have expressed alarm at the massive debts to China that Bishkek and Dushanbe have run up, a development that many fear Beijing will exploit to gain political dominance. Elsewhere, the fact that Chinese investments have sparked Chinese immigration rather than created jobs for Central Asians is the bigger problem. Central Asians resent the appearance of “China towns” in their countries just as much as some in Russia’s Far East do (Vzglyad, August 15, 2018). And protests against the Chinese presence and Chinese repression have become part of the domestic political struggle in many of these countries.

According to Dyatlenko, as China has expanded its presence with the full cooperation of the regimes in power, opposition politicians have begun to play on this theme, recognizing that the Central Asian populations are not on the same page as their governments, as far as China is concerned. Given that China is likely to continue to expand its presence, further irritating local publics, the temptation of opposition groups to exploit such anger will only grow. If that happens—and the Bishkek commentator argues it will unless alternative sources of foreign investment appear—the anti-Chinese demonstrations that have taken place to date will be only the prelude to a situation that could easily spiral out of control, ethnicizing politics in these countries still further.

Should that occur, the consequences of the impact of China’s actions in Xinjiang and its moves to expand its position in Central Asia could transform the regional republics still further, sparking more Russian flight and even becoming another source of discord between Moscow and Beijing. The timing of such a cooling of relations would be particularly inauspicious for the Kremlin considering President Vladimir Putin’s current efforts to both promote a Russian-Chinese alliance against the United States as well as to recover Russia’s influence in Central Asia.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

600 Years of China-Korea Relations

November 20, 2019 at the MacMillan Center of Yale University

Odd Arne Westad, Elihu Professor of History and Global Affairs, Yale University talks about Empire and Righteous Nation: 600 Years of China-Korea Relations.

Professor Westad is a scholar of modern international and global history, with a specialization in the history of eastern Asia since the 18th century. He has published sixteen books, most of which deal with twentieth century Asian and global history.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Monday in Washington November 4, 2019

CATO'S 37TH ANNUAL MONETARY CONFERENCE: FED POLICY: A SHADOW REVIEW. 11/4, 8:00am-5:00pm. Sponsor: Cato Institute’s Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives. Speakers including: James A. Dorn, Vice President for Monetary Studies, Cato Institute; Richard H. Clarida, Vice Chairman, Federal Reserve Board; Peter Ireland, Murray and Monti Professor of Economics, Boston College; Jeffrey M. Lacker, Distinguished Professor of Economics, ​​​​​​​​Virginia Commonwealth University, and former President, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond; Carola Conces Binder, Assistant Professor of Economics, Haverford College; Eric R. Sims, Michael P. Grace II Collegiate Chair and Professor of Economics, University of Notre Dame.

IMPROVING THE U.S.-MEXICO-CANADA AGREEMENT. 11/4, Noon-1:00pm. Sponsor: Speaker: R Street Institute. Clark Packard, Trade Policy Counsel, R Street Institute; Jennifer Hillman, Senior Fellow for Trade and International Political Economy, Council on Foreign Relations; Bill Watson, Associate Fellow, R Street Institute.

NUCLEAR AND CONVENTIONAL ARMS CONTROL ON THE KOREAN PENINSULA. 11/4, 2:00-4:00pm. Sponsor: Institute for Korean Studies, GW. Speakers: Yong-sup Han, Professor, Korea National Defense University; Young-jun Kim, Professor, Korea National Defense University; Joanna Spear, Associate Professor of International Affairs, the George Washington University; Yonho Kim, Associate Director, GW Institute for Korean Studies.

AUSTRALIA, INDIA AND THE MAKING OF AN INDO-PACIFIC STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP. 11/4, 3:00-4:30pm. Sponsor: Georgetown U. Speaker: Dr. Ian Hall of Griffith University will discuss the Australia-India strategic partnership in the Indo-Pacific.

IMPEACHMENT, FOREIGN INTERFERENCE, AND ELECTION SECURITY IN 2020. 11/4, 3:30-5:00pm. Sponsor: Brookings. Speakers: William A. Galston, Ezra K. Zilkha Chair, Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, Brookings; Elaine Kamarck, Senior Fellow, Founding Director, Center for Effective Public Management, Brookings; Molly E. Reynolds, Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, Brookings Benjamin Wittes, Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, Editor-in-Chief, Lawfare, Brookings; Darrell M. West, Vice President and Director, Governance Studies, Brookings.

MEASURING ENERGY SECURITY RISK: ASSESSING RISK IN A GLOBAL ENERGY MARKET. 11/4, 4:00-5:00pm. Sponsor: Institute of World Politics (IWP). Speaker: Stephen D. Eule, Vice President for climate and technology, U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute.

THE RISE AND FALL OF "GOOD GOVERNANCE" PROMOTION. 11/4, 6:00-8:30pm. Sponsors: Embassy of Canada; National Endowment for Democracy. Speakers: Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, Professor of Democracy Studies, Hertie School of Governance. 

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Monday in Washington October 28, 2019

PROSPECTS OF THE RUSSIAN PROTEST MOVEMENT. 10/28, 2:00pm. Sponsor: Atlantic Council. Speakers: Dr. Olga Khostunova, Author; Ms. Ksenia Kirillova, Author; John Herbst, Ambassador; Dr. Maria Snegovaya.

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THE RED SEA REGION BETWEEN WAR AND RECONCILIATION. 10/28, 4:00-5:00pm. Sponsor: Institute of World Politics (IWP). Speaker: Dr. Col. (Res.) author, Shaul Shay, senior research fellow, International Policy Institute for Counter Terrorism (ICT), former Director of Research at the Institute for Strategy and Policy (IPS), Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, Israel.

click to order
THE BATTLE FOR PAKISTAN WITH SHUJA NAWAZ AND STEVE INSKEEP. 10/28, 5:30pm,Washington, DC. Sponsor: Atlantic Council. Speakers: Steve Inskeep, NPR; author Shuja Nawaz, Distinguished Fellow, South Asia Center.

THE UN AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN 2019. 10/28, 5:30-7:00pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: United Nations Association, National Capital Area (UNA-NCA). Speakers: Mr. Andrew Gilmour, Assistant Secretary-General, Human Rights, United Nations; Ambassador Keith Harper, Former U.S. Permanent Representative, UN Human Rights Council; Ambassador Sarah Mendelson, Former U.S. Representative, Economic and Social Council, UN.