South Korea

Tensions Mount over The Liancourt Rocks

August 14, 2012 by

South Korea and Japan have never been the most amicable neighbors. Ill-feelings resulting from Japan’s treatment of Korean’s during the Second World War still haunts many South Koreans. A fresh diplomatic row between South Korea and Japan over The Liancourt Rocks, that dates back several centuries, may permanently damaged relations between these two Asian powers. South Korea refers to the islets as “Dokdo” while Japan refers to them as “Takeshima”.

Enter the Dragon: Will China’s Deal of the Century Save Congo?

July 16, 2012 by

Twenty-four trillion dollars. It is a number that beggars the imagination, almost 40% of the global economy, and it is buried in one of the world’s poorest and most violent countries: The Democratic Republic of Congo. Failed state, rape capital of the world, humanitarian catastrophe…Congo personifies all these but beneath the surface its dark earth holds $24 trillion of copper, cobalt, coltan, the bones and blood of information age manufacturing.

The Chinese Central Bank’s Delicate Tap Dance

July 16, 2012 by

This past week’s release of China’s second quarter GDP growth number – at 7.6 percent - was viewed as an ominous sign of the future direction of the global economy by some pundits, while others see the Chinese government’s stimulus measures as a hopeful sign that its economic growth will be higher in the second half of the year. It is important to understand that the root cause of the decline in China’s economic growth this year is not the trouble in Europe or funk of the global economy, but rather the unsustainable economic bubbles that have been created by the government, and the collapsing demand that has accompanied it.

Is the Developing World Abandoning Iran?

July 6, 2012 by

In a recent interview, the eminent geo-strategist Ian Bremmer suggested that a “nuclear-armed Iran” is inevitable because, in an emerging “G-Zero World” where no single bloc of countries can dominate international affairs, the emerging powers can frustrate the West’s efforts to thwart Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. There are basically two underlying assumptions to his argument: first, that the rising powers have the will and the capacity to ameliorate Iran’s growing isolation; and second, that Iran is willing to push its nuclear frontiers at any cost.

To the Pacific We Go: The US ‘Rebalancing’ Act

June 4, 2012 by

Empires huff and puff, and sometimes stutter. Bloodied heels are not taken as a warning that their time has come – rather they are simply seen as part of the job prescription. Despite a slow economy and stagnation in such theatres as Afghanistan, the United States is moving inexorably into the Pacific, and the military wise men are intent that they do so with speed. The 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance called “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense” is the guiding document in that mission.

Chinese Domestic Policy and Sino-North Korean Relations

May 24, 2012 by

A key element in the debate over the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (North Korea or DPRK) nuclear weapons program that has evaded attention is the complex relationship between Chinese foreign and domestic policy. A historical trend exists in the Communist Chinese Party (CCP) that foreign policy decisions are made in regards to pursuing domestic objectives. The CCP’s purging of Bo Xilai, Party Chief of Chongqing province and potential Politburo Standing Committee member, happens to coincide with North Korea’s renewed testing of a ballistic missile after United States officials claimed that a breakthrough moment had occurred in negotiations.

Latin America Delivers A Swift Kick

April 30, 2012 by

On one level, April’s hemispheric summit meeting was an old fashioned butt kicking for Washington’s policies in the region. The White House found itself virtually alone—Dudley Do Right Canada its sole ally—on everything from Cuba to the war on drugs. But the differences go deeper than the exclusion of Havana and the growing body count in Washington’s failed anti-narcotics strategy. They reflect profound disagreements on how to build economies, confront inequity, and reflect a new balance of power in world affairs.

A New Great Game in Asia-Pacific

April 28, 2012 by

India tested its first inter-continental ballistic missile, named Agni-V, this month and joined the select group of nations possessing both nuclear weapons and a delivery system capable of hitting targets across continents. Only a few days before, nuclear capable North Korea had test fired a rocket, supposedly to place a satellite in the orbit, but it failed. Within days, India’s long-time adversary, Pakistan, tested a more advanced version of its Shaheen-1 missile. Named Shaheen-1A, it is capable of hitting targets between 2000 and 3000 miles––a substantially upgraded intermediate-range ballistic missile. Before the latest launch, Pakistan’s longest-range missile, Shaheen II, was thought to have a range of less than 1500 miles.

Disengagement the Best Engagement for North Korea

March 21, 2012 by

It took a record one month for U.S.-North Korean talks over a food for nuclear freeze swap to fall into the all too common war of words where Pyongyang threatens with war against the U.S. and South Korea. And while admittedly this game of hot and cold isn’t anything new, what’s different this time is the record speed in which it happened. On Wednesday, February 9th, U.S. officials announced a breakthrough in talks with the DPRK. In exchange for food aid, North Korea would freeze its Yongbyong nuclear facility and all missile tests.

Do Country Acronyms have a Meaningful Place in a Dynamic World?

March 10, 2012 by

When Goldman Sachs first coined the term “BRICs” in 2001, it did so on the assumption that these four countries were going to heavily influence the direction of the global economy. It turned out that China was much more influential than any of the other three, and that Brazil well underperformed the others based on its decade-long average GDP growth rate of approximately 3.5%. Since then, the dynamics of the global economy have continued to change significantly, with the rise of ‘the rest’ becoming a dominant feature of the landscape.

Seoul’s “New” Political Parties

February 5, 2012 by

With the April National Assembly elections just a few months off, the two main South Korean political parties have undergone major face-lifts, or at least they’ve been trying to and for good reason. Just this past week, the ruling conservative Grand National Party (GNP), under the chairmanship of one of South Korea’s most influential female politician Park Geun-hye, reemerged as the Saenuri Party (meaning the “New World” Party). The new Saenuri Party brand comes after months of very public internal fighting and a string of embarrassing leadership meltdowns for the ruling conservative party.

China, South Korean Energy Competition

January 13, 2012 by

South Korean conglomerate and energy giant, the SK Group, in the past few days has made moves to gain a stronger foothold in China’s energy transportation market, in particular in China Gas Holdings. China Gas Holdings is a major player in China’s natural gas pipeline and infrastructure industry and is especially active in the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) markets. Last month, China Gas Holdings rejected a $2.2 billion purchase bid by Chinese state owned China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) and ENN Energy Holdings for all its shares, stating that offer was undervalued.

Obama’s Dangerous Asia “Pivot”

December 21, 2011 by

The Obama administration is in the middle of a major shift in foreign policy—a “strategic pivot” in the words of the White House—in two regions of the world: Asia and Africa. In both cases, a substantial buildup of military forces and a gloves-off use of force lie at the heart of the new approach. The U.S. now has a permanent military force deployed in the Horn of Africa, a continent-wide military command—Africom—and it has played a key role in overthrowing the Libyan government.

What Next for North Korea?

December 19, 2011 by

It comes as no surprise that Kim Jong Il died at a relatively young age of a heart attack over the weekend. Having suffered from ill health for a number of years (cancer and, more recently, a stroke), he was well known for his pleasurable excesses, and his father, Kim Il Sung, also died of a heart attack. Kim Jong Il knew his end was near, which prompted him to catapult his youngest son — Kim Jong Un — believed to be just 28 years old, as his named successor. Assuming that a behind-the-scenes battle for succession does not occur, Kim Jong Un should become the leader of the world’s most secretive and dangerous nuclear state.

What Will Become of the Next North Korea?

December 19, 2011 by

There are parts of the planet that are hopelessly poor. North Korea should not be one of them. Sitting at the crossroads of one of the most economically dynamic regions of the world, the dismal state of decay that this country currently finds itself is not a product of poor geography, but of decades of maligned politics and policies. When stepping off the Tupolev Tu-154 and onto the tarmac at Sunan International Airport in Pyongyang, the impression is an immediate and profound “it doesn’t have to be this way.” Once seeing South Korea that impression is only reaffirmed tenfold.

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