North Korea Criticizes China for Sanctions Enforcement

Part of me wonders if this whole Chinese enforcement of sanctions and North Korea’s reaction is all for show to appease the Trump administration in the short term while nothing really changes in the long term?:

North Korea has apparently asked China not to step up anti-North sanctions, warning of “catastrophic consequences” in their bilateral relations.

Pyongyang issued the warning through commentary written by a person named Jong Phil on its official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), which was released Saturday.

It’s rare for Pyongyang’s media to level criticism at Beijing, though the KCNA didn’t directly mention China in the commentary titled “Are you good at dancing to the tune of others” and dated Friday.

The commentary instead called the nation at issue “a country around the DPRK,” using North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Pyongyang Gas Stations Begin to Close and Limit Services Due to Fuel Shortage

It looks like China at least in the short term has cut the amount of fuel being imported into North Korea. The real question is if this is all just for short term show or is China really committed to enforcing fuel sanctions on the Kim regime?:

Car users in Pyongyang were scrambling Friday to fill up their tanks as gas stations began limiting services or even closing amid concerns of a spreading shortage.

A sign outside one station in the North Korean capital said sales were being restricted to diplomats or vehicles used by international organizations, while others were closed or turning away local residents. Lines at other stations were much longer than usual and prices appeared to be rising significantly.

The cause of the restrictions or how long they might last were not immediately known.

North Korea relies heavily on China for its fuel supply and Beijing has reportedly been tightening its enforcement of international sanctions aimed at getting Pyongyang to abandon its development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

President Trump Allegedly Quoted President Xi as Saying Korea Was Once Part of China

I like how the media is bashing President Trump for repeating something that Chinese President Xi said to him during their recent meeting in Florida:

Following his meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping, Donald Trump made a shocking admission of ignorance to the Wall Street Journal, on the subject of China and North Korea: “After listening [to Xi] for 10 minutes I realized that…it’s not so easy.” Trump has been called out for having his views on such an important geopolitical issue shift dramatically in a matter of minutes. He also may not know who rules North Korea.

Right before that line about listening to Xi, though, Trump said something arguably even more shocking. He claimed that “Korea actually used to be a part of China.” This is a glaring historical inaccuracy that has, somehow, not yet enraged South Korea, which is usually extremely defensive about suggestions that it is lesser than China or has ever been dependent on it.

Trump also made it clear in the interview that when he says Korea “used to be a part of China,” he is talking about the entire Korean peninsula, not just the North. Here’s the full quote:

[Xi] then went into the history of China and Korea. Not North Korea, Korea. And you know, you’re talking about thousands of years …and many wars. And Korea actually used to be a part of China.

“No respectable historian would make such a claim,” said Kyung Moon Hwang, a history professor at the University of Southern California and author of A History of Korea, when I asked him via email to assess Trump’s statement.  [Quartz.com]

You can read the rest at the link, but here is the Korean reaction to the quote:

South Korea on Wednesday dismissed the controversial remark reportedly made by U.S. President Donald Trump that Korea was “part of China” as untrue and not worthy of response.

“Whether that is true or not, Korea hasn’t been a part of China for thousands of years and it is an historical fact that the international community acknowledges and no one can deny it,” a foreign ministry official said on the condition of anonymity.

“It is worthless to respond to this kind of story,” he added.

Controversy is growing here after U.S. online media reported that Trump made that remark in an interview with the Wall Street Journal while sharing what was discussed with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in their recent summit held earlier this month.

In the story titled “Trump weirdly says Korea was part of China, which is totally wrong and could enrage South Korea,” Quartz reported that Trump quoted Xi as making the remark during the summit.

It is not clear if and in what context Xi said so, nor is it certain whether it is an accurate quote or an error that possibly occurred in the process of interpretation. The remark was not mentioned in the WSJ interview.  [Yonhap]

So it is a remark with no context and was not in the actual WSJ interview and we are all supposed to get enraged by this?  Even if the remark is true, people instead of getting upset with Trump should get upset with Xi.  Considering China’s ongoing Northeast Asia Project is it any wonder Xi would claim to Trump that Korea was once part of China? The Northeast Asia Project has been going on for years where the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) have been claiming that the ancient Koguryo kingdom in Korea was founded by a Chinese minority tribe.  They have even registered Koguryo sites with UNESCO with no mention of the kingdom being Korean.

This is all likely being done to set political conditions for the possible Chinese domination of North Korea if the Kim regime was ever to collapse.

Doug Bandow Calls for the Removal of US Military from South Korea

There is a reason that Northeast Asia has been stable since the end of the Korean War after decades of conflict and that is the US military presence in the region.  Doug Bandow from the libertarian Cato Institute disagrees:

But that world disappeared long ago. The Korean Peninsula has lost its geopolitical significance, South Korea its helplessness, and America’s Korea commitment its purpose. While there is much to criticize in the approach of Donald Trump’s administration to the rest of the world, the president correctly sees the need for a foreign policy that more effectively protects America’s interests. A good place to start shifting course is the region home to the world’s newest and least responsible nuclear power.

The Koreas are no longer a proxy battleground between superpowers. There was a time when U.S. withdrawal from a confrontation with a Soviet ally in Asia would have, analysts believed, signaled weakness a continent away in Europe. But the Soviets are long gone and the cause for American commitment with them. An inter-Korean war would be tragic and the body count enormous, but absent American involvement the fighting would largely be confined to the peninsula. The continued presence of U.S. forces, by contrast, virtually guarantees the spread of conflict.

South Korea’s defense no longer requires Washington’s presence. The South’s economy began racing past its northern antagonist during the 1960s. Democracy arrived in the late 1980s. By the 1990s, when mass starvation stalked Pyongyang as Seoul’s economy boomed, the gap between the two Koreas was already huge and growing. The South’s military potential is correspondingly great though as yet unrealized — in part because dependence on the U.S. presence has affected strategic choices.  [Foreign Policy]

You can read the rest at the link as well as read my prior analysis of why USFK withdrawal will not happen any time soon at this link.

President Trump Has Confidence China Will “Properly Deal with North Korea”

If history is any indication the Chinese will double-deal the US on North Korea:

Chinese Government Backed Newspaper Warns of Unprecedented Sanctions if North Korea Does Not Back Down

It appears that the Chinese government has gotten the message that President Trump is serious about striking North Korea if they try anything in the near term.  However, will China’s warning towards North Korea be heeded?  I guess we will find out:

Chinese President Xi Jinping called for a peaceful resolution of rising tension on the Korean peninsula in a telephone conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday, as a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group steamed towards the region.

Trump, in an early morning note on Twitter, said the call with Xi, just days after they met in the United States, was a “very good” discussion of the “menace of North Korea”. The call came as an influential state-run Chinese newspaper warned that the Korean peninsula was the closest it has been to a “military clash” since North Korea’s first nuclear test in 2006.  (……)

China’s Global Times newspaper said in an editorial that North Korea should halt any plan for nuclear and missile activities “for its own security”. While widely read in China and run by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, the Global Times does not represent government policy.

The newspaper noted Trump’s recent decision to launch 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airfield in response to a deadly gas attack last week.

“Not only is Washington brimming with confidence and arrogance following the missile attacks on Syria, but Trump is also willing to be regarded as a man who honours his promises,” it said.

“The U.S. is making up its mind to stop the North from conducting further nuclear tests. It doesn’t plan to co-exist with a nuclear-armed Pyongyang,” it said. “Pyongyang should avoid making mistakes at this time.”

The Global Times said if North Korea made another provocative move, “Chinese society” might be willing to back unprecedented sanctions, “such as restricting oil imports”.  [Reuters]

You can read more at the link.

Korean Activist Group Sues Chinese Government Over Yellow Dust Air Pollution

The yellow dust this year in South Korea is as bad as I can remember it ever being and it seems Korean citizens are beginning to take action to do something about it:

Mask-wearing protestors demand the Korean government to come up with measures to reduce air pollution in a rally held in central Seoul on April 2. (Yonhap)

Many believe that while South Korea has had its own air problem, the recent sharp deterioration is mainly due to China, the world’s biggest polluter.

This belief has led to the first civil lawsuit filed by South Korean citizens against the governments of both Korea and China.

Choi Yul, an environmental activist and president of the Korea Green Foundation, and attorney Ahn Kyung-jae filed the suit Wednesday with the Seoul Central District Court, seeking 3 million won ($2,650) each in compensation.

The data on how much of the airborne pollutants in Korea are from China is not seen as reliable.

The Comprehensive Plan on Fine Particulate Matter compiled by several government bodies put the figure at 30-50 percent.

Such figures are estimated using data from Baengnyeongdo, a remote western island.

However, a report from the Munhwa Ilbo uncovered that the decimal point on the published data data collected at Baengnyeongdo over the past two years had been put in the wrong place giving much lower readings than was the case. Officials say they used the correct data in their calculations, and had therefore not underestimated China’s influence,  but are coy about releasing the data.

A study leaked from the Ministry of Environment estimated that 86 percent of ultrafine dust particles in Seoul and its surrounding cities on March 21, when the entire country was choked with high dust concentrations, was of Chinese origin.

The ministry confirmed that figure, but has been reluctant to reveal more data on the China factor, claiming a significant portion of the pollutants originate here.  [Korea Herald]

You can read more at the link, but the Seoul city government did recently release statistics that showed 55% of the air pollution in Seoul was coming from China.  The ROK can take measures to reduce pollution domestically, but ultimately it will not matter until they get the Chinese government to do something on their end.  Good luck with that.

Trump Says “Lots of Very Potentially Bad Problems Will Be Going Away” After Meeting with Chinese Leader

I guess we will see in the future of this statement includes North Korea or not:

U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday after summit talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping that “tremendous progress” was made in U.S. relations with China and that “lots of very potentially bad problems will be going away.”

“We have made tremendous progress in our relationship with China” Trump said after talks with Xi at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, according to pool reports. “I think truly progress has been made,” he said, calling the relationship with China “outstanding.”

“Lots of very potentially bad problems will be going away,” Trump said.

It was unclear if the “bad problems” include North Korea.  (…….)

The strikes against Syria, which came in the middle of the state dinner Trump hosted for Xi at his Mar-a-Lago estate, could also send a message to China that the U.S. may take unilateral action unless Beijing helps rein in Pyongyang.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.