Monday, April 24, 2017

Slings And Arrows

North Korea may now have a credible "second strike" capability, that could make "the prospect of a preemptive strike by the United States or South Korea less palatable, leaving open the prospect of nuclear retaliation." http://thediplomat.com/2017/04/north-koreas-2017-military-parade-was-a-big-deal-here-are-the-major-takeaways/ Check out our video: https://youtu.be/ZTaUSXta2cM


NORTH KOREA: TALKS WILL FAIL BECAUSE WE HAVE NOTHING THEY WANT
SAM ROGGEVEEN LOWY INTERPRETER 190113APRIL2017

Most North Korea analysts are agreed that what motivates Kim Jung Un above all is regime survival against foreign and domestic threats. Both Kim and his father before him decided that possessing nuclear weapons which could be delivered to an enemy target on ballistic missiles was vital for securing that goal, because the US would not dare attack North Korea if there was a chance Pyongyang could retaliate with nuclear weapons. America's interventions in Iraq and Libya have no doubt reinforced that lesson in Pyongyang. Nuclear weapons and their associated missile systems, then, are not primarily a form leverage to secure better economic terms for an eventual settlement with the US and South Korea. Nor are they a diplomatic tool to improve Pyongyang's standing, or a means to display defiance against the US and its allies. They are military weapons which are, in the regime's calculation, essential for securing their highest aim: the continuation of their rule.
https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/north-korea-talks-will-fail-because-we-have-nothing-they-want


PRESIDENT TSAI DODGES ANOTHER CROSS-STRAIT BULLET
J MICHAEL COLE TAIWAN SENTINEL 200000APRIL2017

…If, as we have reason to suspect, Zhang’s attempted defection — or more precisely, the decision by some Chinese authority to allow him to go to Taiwan to possibly defect — constituted an attempt to sabotage the prevailing stability, as granting Zhang asylum certainly would have, then turning him down was, all things considered, the proper, albeit arguably not the moral, thing to do. There is no doubt that Lee, whose sentence could be limited to a symbolic period of “community service,” would have suffered had the Tsai government granted Mr. Zhang his wish; by refusing to do so, President Tsai suffers a minor blow to her reputation among a segment of society (rights activists among them, as well as the deeper green camp which has already accused her of being to “soft” on China), but she avoids committing a much greater mistake that could both have hurt Mr. Lee’s chances of a quick release and have added momentum to a sequence of events that could have spiralled out of control and caused serious instability in the Strait, with only the radicals benefiting.
https://sentinel.tw/president-tsai-dodges-bullet/

THE GROWING STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE OF BANGLADESH TO CHINA
AVIA NAHREEN DAILY STAR 201624APRIL2017

The Chinese economy is heavily dependent on energy resources transported via the secure sea-lanes in the Indian Ocean... To consolidate influence in this critical trade route and at the same time shedding overdependence on it, China has been pledging investment to the littoral states around the Indian Ocean. It is due to this strategy, Bangladesh, owing to its geographic positioning in the Bay of Bengal, has been the recipient of investment pledges from China's deep pockets. Bangladesh is an important factor in the much touted 'string of pearls' theory, which explicates how China intends to exert more influence around the Malacca Strait and Indian Ocean through investment in development and infrastructural projects around Indian Ocean rim states.

To cut down over-reliance on the Strait of Malacca, China is already building oil pipelines from the Burmese port Kyakpiu to Kunming… If India ever, with US support, blocks the Malacca chokepoint through the Indian base in the Andaman Sea, it can have dire repercussions for the Chinese manufacturing base. Hence, it is important for China to gain more influence in the Indian Ocean region through bankrolling infrastructural investment in the coastal nations.
http://www.thedailystar.net/op-ed/the-growing-strategic-importance-bangladesh-china-1393957

MYANMAR AND MAJOR POWERS: SHIFTS IN TIES WITH CHINA, RUSSIA AND THE US
KAVI CHONGKITTAVORN THE NATION, THAILAND 212200APRIL2017

The cosying of the Myanmar-China friendship has been clearly manifested by the opening of their long-delayed oil pipeline, which will transport oil from the Bay of Bengal to China's Yunnan province, some 800km inland. With both the oil and gas pipelines now in operation, Myanmar has suddenly become a major connectivity route for China's Belt and Road Initiative - a showcase of President Xi Jinping's mega-plan in mainland South-east Asia. China's efforts elsewhere, especially in Laos and Thailand, are still at the early stage.

The quick operation of the oil pipeline also indicates that future Myanmar-China relations will be further strengthened. Both countries are confident that any remaining challenges posed by the controversial Myitsone Dam and the Letpadaung mine in Sagaing region will be resolved.
http://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/policy-shifts-in-myanmars-ties-with-major-powers


NEXT ROUND OF TRADE DEAL MUST NOT BE LIKE THE TPP
BILL ROSENBERG NEW ZEALAND HERALD 232100APRIL2017

The main point is this: public concerns are not primarily about trade in the conventional sense of importing and exporting goods… Recent research has shown how oversimplified most economists' and politicians' portrayal of trade has been. There are winners and losers, but in theory the winners could compensate the losers and still win. Unfortunately our systems of progressive taxation and social support have been seriously weakened and no longer do that sufficiently… Too frequently just the winners win, raising inequality and social tensions. That must be fixed to ensure public support.

But these agreements are no longer mainly about trade. It is misleading to talk about them as Free Trade Agreements. I'll call them international commerce agreements, and it is misleading to label public concerns as protectionism.
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11843705


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