Asia witnessed two major summits in the last week of April – between Kim Jong-un of North Korea and Moon Jae-in of South Korea in Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone between the two countries, and between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan, China.
Arguably, it was the meeting between the leaders of the two smaller countries that carried the greatest immediate significance, if nothing else because they sought a formal end to a state of war that has existed since 1950 and ‘complete denuclearisation’ of the Korean peninsula while the India-China summit promised not even a joint statement of what was on the agenda between their two leaders.
And yet, as many have argued for decades, there is no ‘Asian century’ without India and China working together and living in peace. Continue reading Is It Asia’s Moment, Yet?
China has gone around Asia, particularly, Southeast Asia telling countries to behave because they are smaller than China. Beijing however, is strangely more diffident when it comes to Pyongyang’s consistently cocking a snook at it and also complicating China’s regional security environment at the same time. As opposed as they are to the DPRK’s nuclear status, the Chinese also do not seek a US-led regime change through military meansand to see either North Korean refugees or American troops on its borders.
Chinese Views on North Korea’s Nuclear Programme
Chinese scholars also view the DPRK as feeling genuinely threatened by the US and that its development of nuclear weapons is for regime survival. The huge US-ROK joint military exercises in March-April 2016 according to the Chinese caused major worry in Pyongyang, which sees such exercises as disguising potential military invasion. Continue reading China and North Korea: A Convenient Arrangement
A shorter version of this piece was published as Jabin T. Jacob, ‘North Korea hasn’t gone rogue. Nukes are its geo-political trump card’, Catch News, 16 January 2016.
Following North Korea’s fourth nuclear test since 2006, the world led by the UN Security Council has condemned Pyongyang’s action. The DPRK for its part blamed South Korea’s propaganda broadcasts in the Demilitarised Zone – which includes K-pop songs, by the way – and deployment of military assets, saying these were pushing the two countries to the ‘brink of war’.
The UNSC’s resolutions since 2006 imposing and strengthening sanctions on North Korea for continuing to develop its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles have however not been very effective, even if they have slowed down the pace of development of these programmes. This is because Pyongyang views nuclear weapons as a guarnator of its regime security. Given American efforts at regime change in West Asia, Pyongyang clearly sees nuclear weapons as the ace in its pack. The Americans reminded Kim Jong-un’s regime of that threat by flying a B-52 over South Korea in a joint response to the North Korean test. The bomber that took off from far-away Guam, can carry precision guided conventional ordnance as well as nuclear weapons. Continue reading North Korea’s Nuclear Test: Regional Reactions and the Chinese Responsibility