The PRC wants soft power; wants Kung Fu Panda – can’t get their heavy, bloody hands on it, however some Chinese do parody pretty well and much to North Korea’s discomfort.
The PRC wants soft power; wants Kung Fu Panda – can’t get their heavy, bloody hands on it, however some Chinese do parody pretty well and much to North Korea’s discomfort.
Many foreign beer drinkers complain that Korean beers suck. Comments range from donkey piss to kinda drinkable if really, really cold. Personally, I like Korean beer with spicy Korean food and have never really thought of Korean beers as terrible. However, there is nothing like the free market to bring out a little objectivity to the debate.
South Korea’s beer imports reached a record-high level in the first half of this year, exceeding the nation’s beer exports.
Beer imports to the country surged 28.5 percent on-year to US$50.8 million during the January-June period, the highest figure since comparable numbers were first made available in 2000…
Imported beer['s] tonnage has increased more than 15 times since 2000…
So, are the Koreans flocking to British stouts or American lagers? No.
Imports of Japanese beer came to 13,818 tons, accounting for the largest portion of the figure at 25.8 percent. The list was trailed by the Netherlands, Germany, and China at 8,887 tons, 7,825 tons and 5,067 tons, respectively.
Nippon number one! At least in beer imports.
Netherlands? Would that mean Heinekens are popular in Korea?
Tourists and RMB. Yep, Korea is becoming awash in both. Quartz article sums it up nicely:
Chinese tourists are heading to South Korea more than any other destination this year, according to travel agency Ctrip. That’s because political instability has turned many off Thailand, and China’s ties with South Korea have been warming.
Invasion central? Jejudo.
But most of all there is the undeniable appeal of Jeju. The resort island off the South Korean coast is drawing Chinese tourists with its subtropical climate, visa-free status, and attractions like casinos and an erotic-sculpture theme park known as Loveland.
In 2013, almost four million mainland Chinese tourists visited South Korea, and 1.8 million of them went to Jeju…. If Ctrip’s predictions are correct, the number of mainland tourists visiting South Korea will rise to 5.6 million this year—equal to over 10% of South Korea’s population.
Chinese tourism for 2014 may equal 10% of the ROK’s population? Holy cow!
According to Reuters, Chinese state media on Friday branded Apple Inc’s iPhone a threat to national security because of the smartphone’s ability to track and time-stamp user locations. Apple’s competitor, Samsung also has the means to track phones and log locations, however it is not made by the evil Americans.
I suppose the iPhone could really be a threat to state security if too many Chinese started using the ethics finder app . . . this is more a sign of insecurity than a lack of security!
After China has engaged in rancorous disputes with several neighbours in Asia – Vietnam and the Philippines – over their egregious claims to most of the “South China Sea” and after the US has participated in joint military exercises with countries like the Philippines, and the decision by the Japanese cabinet to reinterpret the constitution, giving the Japanese military freedom to fight overseas, Chinese President Xi now thinks that “China-US confrontation, to the two countries and the world, would definitely be a disaster” and the US should “should mutually respect and treat each other equally, and respect the other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”, i.e., give us what we want or else. (cite)
Adding to the flames of hate against Japan that is so in style with Chinese politicians, A Chinese newspaper’s graphic showing a mushroom cloud engulfing the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki accompaning an article that claimed “Japan wants a war again” (cite)
Not to be outdone by flaming, flying Chinese dragon rhetoric, a Malaysian member of parliament tweeted about the soccer game between Germany and Brazil, declaring WELL DONE..BRAVO…LONG LIVE HITLER…
Hitler’s example lives on . . .
President Xi of the People’s Republic of China, and a large entourage of Chinese businessmen (Alibaba, Baidu), are currently visiting South Korea. The PRC is hoping for improved business ties but this time, there is, IMHO, the possibility of a sea change on the Korean peninsula.
Why and how?
China wants to change that status quo – they want to do so through money and through a redefinition of regional security – without American influence.
First, in business, China is proposing the foundation of a $50 billion “Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank”, first proposed by President Xi in October 2013, during a tour of Southeast Asia. This bank would have the PRC holding a fifty-percent stake in this bank and has hinted at benefits to those nations that participate and Xi’s visit to Seoul, currently under way is very much about the benefits to South Korea. (we will get to what South Korea might actually want from joining this venture shortly). South Korea has expressed an intent to become an offshore trading centre in Chinese currency (renminbi) and this current meeting is expected to address this as well.
For South Korea, this is useful and important since South Korea’s two-way trade with China was $229 billion last year, exceeding the combined value of South Korea’s trade with the U.S. and Japan. Xi told reporters after the 2013 summit that the two countries will strive to boost their trade to top $300 billion (cite). This trade has been hampered by the fact that both countries transactions have been based in US Dollars (because the Yuan and Won are not directly traded) which costs more and reflects the indirect influence of things American in Asia. A statement from South Korea’s finance ministry and central bank said the South Korean won will become directly exchangeable with the yuan, joining major currencies such as the U.S. dollar, Japanese yen and euro that are convertible with the Chinese currency. The decision also makes the yuan only the second currency after the U.S. dollar that is directly convertible with the won. (cite)
China has also given consent to South Korea’s investment of tens of billions of yuan (billions of USD) in Chinese bonds and stocks. The PRC Government is encouraging businesses to invest in Korea as well. Chinese investors are highly interested in cultural content, software and real estate development, thus would explain the drive by the Korean side to have Chinese investment in the so far failed Saemangeum Project (cite) or the attempt at luring Chinese investment in the Yeosu – Dadohae Haesang National Park area, as well as some yet to be announced projects.
There is also the issue of the recent Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and the PRCs desire to exclude powers – such as the U.S. – from regional security, suggesting an arrangement, guided by the PRC that is more than a little reminiscent of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere plan of Showa Japanese origin. As reported in The Diplomat:
Xi called for the creation of a “new regional security cooperation architecture.” He proposed that CICA become “a security dialogue and cooperation platform” for all of Asia, from which countries can explore the possibility of creating a regional security framework. He further indicated that China would take a leading role in exploring the creation of a “code of conduct for regional security and [an] Asian security partnership program.”
In promoting China’s vision for a new regional security framework, Xi took specific aim at the basis for the current status quo: military alliances. Xi tied such alliances to “the outdated thinking of [the] Cold War.” “We cannot just have security for one or a few countries while leaving the rest insecure,” Xi said. “A military alliance which is targeted at a third party is not conducive to common regional security.” Xi in turn offered an alternative vision for Asia, one based on an all-inclusive regional security framework rather than individual alliances with external actors like the United States.” (cite )
The real horse dealing that is not hinted at in the Korean press (which has been very quiet yet unmistakably pro-Chinese) is how will the PRC, under Xi, will resolve the issue of reunification between the two Koreas. The South Korean Government reportedly wants substantial help from Xi for making reunification a reality – in both financial aid and in the momentum that can only come from the DPRK’s only substantial supporter. Though many believe that the PRC will likely not destabilize the DPRK, if the ROK buys into the Chinese sphere of financial and political influence, rejects the American presence in the region and further guarantees their responsibility in dealing with the potential North Korean refugee problem, I honestly don’t see how a belligerent DPRK could possibly avoid change and reunification with the southern half since it would be a matter of survival to do so.
I suppose this is logical; solving Korea’s problem long-standing problem with the north and the cost of unification, while resulting in the exit of America’s influence in Korea and pushing the US further out of the region and likely gaining more support for the egregious regional claims made by the PRC. There is little America can do about this too, since the Chinese have the means to deliver the reality of unification to South Korea and whereas the U.S. can not.
Looking into a Sino-Korean future; also worrisome is the shortage of personnel to staff the larger Korean projects and the increased likelihood that more Chinese will see living and working in Korea as business ties and opportunities grow in the future. What impact this will have on Korean society remains to be seen and considering the tremendous potential influx of money into Korea, the Korea of fifty years from now will likely be a very different one from what we observe today in terms of world view and its relationship with Europe and the US. Some may even talk about Korea as being a Chinese colony, wistfully remembering the days when their elders talked about how Korea was really an American colony.
Yesterday afternoon a Japanese man, apparently in his 60′s, wearing standard salaryman attire, sat on some girders near the busy Shinjuku Station. With a blow horn he announced that he would immolate himself in protest to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s controversial collective self-defense law changes.
(Image from Japan Trends)
According to the blog Japan Trends, he cited government actions to “involve Japan more in war,” droned on for 30 or so minutes protesting Abe and his government and then proceeded to poured several bottle of brown liquid onto himself and eventually making good on his claims by igniting himself. There is a YouTube video of the actual suicide moment. The footage is graphic, so viewer discretion is advised.
Within the past hour Japan issued its statement on the Kono Statement.
Issued in August, 1993, the Kono Statement acknowledged for the first time “the then Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of the comfort stations and the transfer of comfort women.” In a contemporaneous news article, the New York Times reported on South Korea’s reaction:
South Korea, where most of the women were seized, expressed qualified approval for Tokyo’s admission. “We appreciate the fact that in its latest report, the Japanese Government now acknowledges that coercion was involved in the entire process of recruiting, transporting and managing ‘comfort women,’ ” the South Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “We also appreciate the fact that the Japanese offered an apology.”
As late as June 17, 2014, Seoul’s Foreign ministry reiterated (according to Yonhap News) “that Japan’s 1993 statement acknowledging the Japanese imperial army’s mobilization of wartime sex slaves was made based on Tokyo’s own investigations and judgment.” From the cited Yonhap News article,
The Kono statement was written based on Japan’s own judgment on the issue, (foreign ministry spokesman Noh Kwang-il said in a briefing), adding that the Korean government made clear that it is not a document needed for prior consultation or agreement with another country.
Japan announced in its findings today that according to latest Japanese reports the review says the Korean government also played a role in the wording of the Kono statement. Japan’s Jiji News Agency reports that Seoul and Tokyo held discussions on what the statement will look like, under the condition that their dealings be kept a secret. This will definitely trigger heavy criticism from South Korea.
All this leaves observers asking “why?”
UPDATE: In addition to the statement that the Korean government played a role in the wording of the Kono Statement, Japanese media is reporting the report claims the Japanese government did not verify the validity of testimonies given by 16 Korean comfort women who were the basis of the Kono Statement.
UPDATE 2: Although Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference that Japan will continue to uphold the statement and not seek to revise it or change the government’s official stance, China’s Shanghai Daily connected the dots:
In essence, the panel has suggested that the findings were inaccurate, if not fallacious, and the final statement itself unsubstantiated, in a move that quickly drew the ire of the South Korean Foreign Ministry who blasted the Japanese government saying its action were “deeply regrettable” and a “contradictory and pointless act.”
Unfortunately, I agree. Japan’s panel’s 21 page report on the Kono Statement seems to have pulled much of the punch behind the Kono Statement by questioning the validity of statements, findings, and testimonies underlying the Kono Statement.
Korea’s Joong Ang Daily reported that Japan’s panel found “in the drafting of the Kono Statement, ‘there was intensive and detailed mediation with the Korean government’….”
The Japan Times, which described the crafting of the statement as a “tug of war”, went into more of the contentious details of the negotiation. Among them, “the report further states that Seoul indicated that if Japan did not comply with the revisions, it would not accept the Kono apology in a positive way” and “the Korean side told Tokyo that ‘it has a policy not to seek financial compensation.’ ”
From a practical standpoint, I find Japan’s panel’s finding that Korea had significant input credible for the simple reason that Japan could not risk issuing a statement that Korea would reject; however, I find Japan’s revelation of such nonetheless duplicitous.
Regardless of the extent of Korea’s input, Japan signed it.
UPDATE 3: For those straining to hear the voice of reason and the supposed silent majority in Japan, The Japan Times published an editorial on its English website, Stop Undermining the Kono Statement. The following is an excerpt:
If the government is to uphold the 1993 statement, as it says it will, then the Abe administration needs to do what the statement says Japan will do and make proactive efforts to settle the long-running dispute, instead of repeatedly attempting to play down the nation’s responsibility for the ordeal of the women forced into wartime sexual slavery.
…Following the release of the review’s outcome, the Abe administration repeated that it would not change the Kono statement. If that’s the case, then the administration should wholly commit itself to what Japan said in the statement, and seek to repair ties with South Korea that have been strained at least in part by its attempt to question the stance of past Japanese governments on this matter.
Living next to the DPRK is difficult for most but the real problem is the People’s Republic of China and their bully tactics that threaten to drive neighbouring nations into acquiring nuclear weapons. Zachary Keck writes about the massive build-up of conventional arms by the PRC and its bully tactics that is slowly but surely pushing regional powers into considering a nuclear deterrent since their interests are directly and laterally threatened by a rising fascist power.
Though President Park was quoted as saying that more nuclear testing by the DPRK could result in “a domino effect by providing its neighbours with a pretext to arm themselves with nuclear weapons”, the real concern is the DPRK’s historic sponsor, China:
Although North Korea is unlikely to precipitate a nuclear arms race in Asia, China’s growing military capabilities and assertive diplomatic posture very well might. Indeed, just as history has demonstrated that states don’t need nuclear arsenals to deter rivals from attacking them with nuclear weapons, it has also demonstrated that nuclear weapons are extremely effective in deterring conventional military attacks. Thus, states that face rivals with overwhelming conventional military power have a strong incentive to acquire nuclear weapons to negate their rivals’ conventional superiority. (cite)
Other editorials certainly suggest that countries, like Vietnam, certainly have incentive to go nuclear, so as to protect their borders in the event that the PRC is tempted to trespass too far since China has 14 times the population and 37 times the economy of its neighbour, thus arrogance has a fertile place to grow. (cite)
Even if the Philippines is awarded a ruling that China’s claim to the South China Sea has no legal basis, will not likely change the reality in the region – China is unlikely to leave areas it controls at the say of a judge in The Hague – but it will make it hard for Beijing to keep arguing plausibly that it always acts with respect to international law (source), and considering such, many would be foolish to not keep a gun in the house even if it were a technically illegal firearm.
Even so, there will be more pressure on regional nations to keep Chinese fishermen – as state proxies – in check (as demonstrated by their use against Japan and Vietnam). Chinese pirates have long been a part of regional history in Asia that pre-dates quite a few of their claims of territory too.
The details of up to 16,000 South Koreans that have worked for the U.S. Command here have been hacked. (link)
According to the military, the affected system (hack) is a human resources recruiting system separate from the U.S. military network
Maybe that is 16,000 Koreans that will be getting loan offers from companies in the PRC?
Today marks a terrible anniversary and this cheap-looking watch is a souvenir of things past that certain people want forgotten or claim didn’t really happen.
So Obama apparently enjoyed a cosy Sushi dinner at a Ginza joint with probably less than 10 people present, including Caroline Kennedy the US Ambassador to Japan, and Abe Shinzo. They probably sat and ate at one of those typical shoulder-to-shoulder counters at one of those posh sushi joints smaller than a shoe display case attached to one of those walk-in closets in most American houses.
Abe chose the menu apparently, hearing that Obama was a sushi fan. I wonder if Abe pulled one of those stunts – “Guess what you’ve just had, Madame Ambassador! Delicious, wasn’t it? Mwahahaha!” Probably not.
Obama is coming straight from Japan to Korea in a couple of days.
Ahead of his trip to Asia, the Whitehouse released Obama’s answers to his “interview with Yomiuri Shimbun”.
The policy of the United States is clear—the Senkaku Islands are administered by Japan and therefore fall within the scope of Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. And we oppose any unilateral attempts to undermine Japan’s administration of these islands.”
I think Obama’s last attempt at getting Abe and Park to hold hands and be nice to each other went rather dismally at the Hague. As we know, Abe tried to break the ice with his attempt at Korean, but was met with a rather stony expression from Park.
Abe was recently asked at a Japanese Yomiuri TV show, “Were you surprised at being dismissed/ignored by Park?” to which he graciously replied “I heard her condition was not so good on that day. Maybe there was some problem with my Korean accent, although my wife had told me it was good.”
Park, on the other hand, has apparently been on the phone with China’s Xi namely to ask China to do everything to dissuade North Korea from further nuclear tests, as North Korea is clacking its pots and pans in the kitchen cupboard filled with supplies of “the enriched variety” , ahead of Obama visit to make him feel welcome. However, I see Park’s phone call more like phoning a current boyfriend to placate him ahead of an ex’s visit, to ensure nothing will happen. I notice she is so transparent and likes to do that – she also had a chummy meeting with Xi just before the last 3 way meeting between Japan US and S.Korea at the Hague.
So what should Obama do, as that is my title?
He should apply exactly the same principle w.r.t what he told Yomiuri Shimbun to his East Asian allies as well.
If his standard is based on “which country administers” then surely there is your answer.
Obama’s clear stance on the Senkaku islands has probably made Abe chuffed to bits, and if he really wants Japan and Korea together, Obama can and should tell Abe to lump it because “it is equally clear to the US that 독도 is administered by Korea.” If Abe can lump that, I think there will be some ray of hope between the Japan and the Korea relations.
However, “as if that would happen.” I invite comments on why it wouldn’t and shouldn’t happen.
Maybe Obama will want to have a question from the Korean press. Anyone? Anybody? From the Korean press? Anybody?
There is talk in South Korea about compensating Korea’s Comfort Women from WWII, however, no court in Korea has decided to seize Japanese assets in lieu of compensation. Currently, the Shanghai Maritime Court, in abeyance of a 1972 joint communique between Japan and China, has ordered the seizure of a Japanese ship owned by Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd. , as compensation for the loss of two ships leased from a Chinese company, before the two countries went to war in 1937 (cite). The two ships were subsequently used by the Japanese Army during WWII.
The Shanghai court ordered the seizure even though Japan and the PRC had signed a 1972 joint communique, when the two countries established diplomatic relations, that renounced war repatriations. The PRC maintains that the seizure is not for war repatriations but is a civil matter. This seizure comes upon the very recent visit of 150 Japanese politicians to Yasukune Shrine as well.
As reported by the BBC:
The owners of the Chinese shipping company (Zhongwei Shipping) sought compensation after World War Two and the case was reopened at a Shanghai court in 1988. The court ruled in 2007 that Mitsui had to pay 190 million yuan ($30.5m, £18m) as compensation for the two ships leased to Daido, a firm later part of Mitsui, Global Times and Kyodo said. Mitsui appealed against the decision, but it was upheld in 2012. . . (cite)
This sets a very ugly precedent that could ultimately chill business relations between the PRC and Japan, as well as serving a reminder to foreign business in China, that operating in the PRC does carry risks that go beyond labor issues. This raises the spectre of PRC retaliation against South Korean interests if anything should go sour between the two countries though South Korea has attempted to make nice between both countries by repatriating the remains of Chinese soldiers <reality>invaders</reality> from the Korean War.
So, says Gi-Wook Shin and Daniel C. Sneider over at Foreign Affairs magazine. Shin and Sneider are Director and Associate Director of the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University.
You need to register (it’s free for three article views a month) to see the whole article, but here are a few slices:
Japan and South Korea have made repeated efforts over the past two decades to resolve their wartime history issues, but progress has always proved short-lived. South Korean officials now openly plead for the United States to step in.
Even so, China’s bid for regional domination makes it nearly impossible for the United States to continue to stay out of the fray…. By taking a leading role in dealing with the wartime past, the United States could make it difficult for Beijing to use it for political gain.
The oft-stated notion that the United States has no responsibility for history issues is a convenient myth. The United States made several key decisions right after the war that laid the groundwork for the current dispute. These range from its decision to put aside the issue of the emperor’s responsibility to its efforts to rehabilitate nationalist conservatives — including Abe’s grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, the wartime minister in charge of Japan’s military industry — to counter Japan’s leftward drift, all of which undermined efforts within Japan to make a clear break with the past...
Such decisions made sense in the context of the Cold War because of the imperatives of the struggle against the Soviet and Chinese Communists. But they don’t anymore, and it is incumbent on the Untied States to help the region reconcile its past once and for all.
Here is a more moderate appeal (i.e. largely not involving the U.S.) by Ogata Sadako, former president of Japan International Cooperation Agency, Han Sung-Joo, former foreign minister of South Korea and Ezra F. Vogel, professor emeritus at Harvard University, in last Friday’s Washington Post opinion section.
The Chosun Ilbo reports that due to the popularity of Korean dramas in China, Korean terms such as “oppa” (오빠) and “ajumma” (아줌마) are entering Chinese popular vernacular. The Chinese, however, are putting different meanings behind the words. 오빠, which in Korean can mean anything from a female’s older brother to a female’s older male friend or even boyfriend/lover, has adopted the Chinese characters “歐巴,” pronounced “ou-pa” in Mandarin and the meaning of “…amorous feelings toward the subject.”
Ajumma/아줌마? Well, the Chinese already has a popular word for “auntie,” (阿姨/āyí in Mandarin) the rough equivalent of “아줌마” so it’s adopted the meaning of “…to refer to tough women.”