Wednesday, March 30, 2005

China...the beautiful

The very, very hungry China

With an explosive economy year after year, China continues to impress and awe anywhere from Buenos Aires to Berlin. There are but a few indications that the metaphorical “dragon” will rest again soon. Instead, it is undergoing a metamorphosis, much similar to the children’s story The Very Hungry Caterpillar. In the famous story, a caterpillar indulges its insatiable demand for food by eating apples, pies, meat, etc. etc. In the case of China, you can substitute those food items with just about any raw material you can think of (except for democracy, if that applies). Look at how steel prices are soaring due to China's high demand. In the story, the caterpillar ends up becoming a beautiful butterfly. Will that also happen to China?

All over the world, Chinese culture has proliferated at an amazing rate. From blockbuster movies such as “Hero” and “House of flying daggers", to thousands of foreigners who now travel and study abroad in China; it is now obvious that China needs to do little to attract attention. Is that “beauty” -- to attract such attention? Many cover page models might not be beautiful to everyone, but at least they are famous – does that not suffice? Or at least society has constructed the idea for us that they definitely are beautiful.

Today we start to see China’s involvement all over the world. In African oil endeavors, in building infrastructure in South America, and many other project which would not fit in this account. It might be seen as greed, but with investment and new business opportunities for developing countries in South East Asia and Latin America, the proverbial “spilling over” of both capital and culture (two important C’s) seems like a viable option … much like with the United States today.

This is not necessarily to illustrate that China will threaten East Asia or the current world order. Instead China teaches us that even though a civilization is greedily eating away anything in its way (like many European empires of the past), it may have a dynamic future. Just like the caterpillar. It may thus restore the splendor and art of the Sung and Ming dynasties, which though romanticsm has created and constructed the very ideas and perspectives which today are ingrained in our tastes and preferences -- to once again appreciate china as 漂亮 or “beautiful”.

Your comments are highly appreciated

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

China Military Expansion Worries U.S.

By HRVOJE HRANJSKI, The Associated Press, Tuesday, March 29, 2005; 2:45 AM

MANILA, Philippines - A month after assuming command of U.S. forces in the Pacific, Adm. William J. Fallon on Tuesday voiced apprehension about China's military expansion and its intentions toward Taiwan, while promising "whatever assets we may have" to Southeast Asian allies fighting terrorism.

Fallon said his priorities as head of the largest of nine U.S. military commands - an area stretching from the U.S. West Coast to across the Pacific and Indian Oceans - would be fighting the war on terror and building regional military cooperation so "we can put ourselves in a position where we can respond quickly."

He also noted China's increasing military presence and the repercussions for Taiwan -the second-most dangerous flashpoint in the region after the Korean Peninsula.---------

Monday, March 28, 2005

Taiwan democracy rises above bickering

By Kathrin Hille in Taipei, Financial Times, March 27 2005

It was a good weekend for Liao Wen-yen. A massive protest in Taipei on Saturday against China's anti-secession law, which organisers said drew 1m people on to the streets, provided the garbage truck driver who collects banners and posters from demonstrations and election rallies with many new trophies.

Inflatable plastic clubs with “Peace” printed on them, a handmade cardboard sign bearing the warning “Chinese hooligans, watch out”, and a dirty paper slip with the words “Are Taiwanese really not Chinese? You better go and test your DNA” are now displayed in Mr Liao's crammed living room. They bear witness to the island's lively democracy.

After China's National People's Congress passed the anti-secession law two weeks ago, enshrining Beijing's claim of sovereignty and its threat of military force in the event of the island's formal independence, Taiwan's various political parties have shown little consensus about how they can respond.------------

North Korea Experiments, With China as Its Model

By HOWARD W. FRENCH, The New York Times, March 28, 2005

DANDONG, China - At night, the view from the upper floor of a hotel looking out across the Yalu River toward the North Korean city of Sinuiju seems one of utter desolation. Three naked bulbs twinkling feebly is all that can be seen along a several-miles arc of riverfront.

By day, though, the scene at the border in this bustling Chinese city could scarcely be more different. Trucks steadily lumber across the bridge linking the countries, ferrying North Korean raw materials into China and Chinese manufactured goods to market in North Korea.

Westerners have long taken the nighttime view as the truest reflection of North Korea, a country all but frozen in time, its leaders so obsessed with control that they do not countenance contact with the outside world. The view from China, though, in cities like this, where small groups of North Koreans can be found in the downtown shops and hotels, scouring the city for bargains, is of a country already well into an experiment, however uncertain, aimed at rebuilding its economy and even opening up, ever so gingerly, to the outside world.

North Koreans who have recently arrived in China, and Chinese businessmen who have extensive experience in North Korea, speak of significant changes in the economic life in a country with a reputation as one of the most closed and regimented.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

China and Japan: So hard to be friends

The Economist, Special Report, March 23, 2005

China and Japan are increasingly inter-linked commercially. But their age-old political animus is reviving too

IF YOU want to think that Asia's two greatest powers are edging closer to one another, you can find plenty of supporting evidence. Last year, China overtook America to become Japan's biggest trading partner. Japan has been China's biggest trading partner in three of the past four years. Trade rows, common in the 1990s as Japanese producers grew afraid of Chinese competition, have virtually disappeared. The two economies are increasingly integrated, with cheap Chinese goods delighting Japanese shoppers and sophisticated Japanese equipment humming away in Chinese factories.

Moreover, China and Japan are taking part in the effort to launch an East Asian Community, bringing together South-East Asia with themselves and South Korea. They share an interest in preventing the dollar from declining rapidly and in keeping the exchange rate between the yuan and the yen fairly stable, and are therefore the two biggest buyers of American Treasury bonds. They also take part in broader regional co-operation between central banks and finance ministries under the so-called Chiang Mai agreement.-------------------

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Soccer: Bad day for East Asian teams

It was a bad day for the East Asian teams in the 2006 World Cup qualifyer.

South Korea - Saudi Arabia: 0-2

North Korea - Bahrain: 1-2

Japan - Iran: 1-2

Rumor says, that North Korea has "players of mass destruction".

Unfortunately, two fans were killed in a stampede in Iran after the celebrations of the surprise win over Japan.

Soccer: Bad day for East Asian teams

It was an unfortunate day for the 3 East Asian teams in the World Cup 2006 qualifyers on Friday.

North Korea - Bahrain: 1-2

South Korea - Saudi Arabia: 0-2

Iran - Japan: 2-1

To make things worse: Following Iran's surprising victory, the celebrations after the game cost the lives of two Iranian fans who were killed in a stampede.

Taiwanese Hold Major Protest Against China

By STEPHAN GRAUWELS, The Associated Press, Saturday, March 26, 2005; 7:00 AM

TAIPEI, Taiwan - In one of the largest demonstrations in Taiwan's history, about a million people marched through the capital on Saturday to protest a new Chinese law that authorizes an attack on the island if it moves toward formal independence.

"Taiwan is only a small island, so we must speak out really loud to make the world hear that we are a democracy facing an evil giant," said Vivian Wang, a 38-year-old restaurant worker who traveled by bus from the southern city of Kaohsiung - about 190 miles away. Hundreds of thousands assembled at 10 different areas in Taipei, with each route representing one of the articles of the anti-secession law. The marchers converged on the wide boulevard in front of the Presidential Office building.

Beijing is worried that self-ruled Taiwan is drifting toward independence, and China's legislature recently passed a law codifying the use of military force against Taiwan if it seeks a permanent split. The island - just 100 miles off China's southern coast - has been resisting Beijing's rule since the Communists took over the mainland in 1949.----------------

Friday, March 25, 2005

Chinese Govt monitors Taiwan press coverage

John Taylor, The World Today - Friday, 18 March , 2005 12:50:00

TANYA NOLAN: Now to the latest of our letters from ABC correspondents living and working around the world. This week China passed its controversial anti-secession law, aimed at stopping any independence move by Taiwan.

But it was also the week that Chinese journalists showed themselves to be anything but impartial, as China Correspondent John Taylor writes in his letter from Beijing.

JOHN TAYLOR: China is a country where ordinary people can be abused and locked up just because they hold political or religious opinions counter to the Government.

Yet to the casual observer or tourist, the country looks free. People are busy doing their own thing, and appear content to be enjoying an improving standard of living. But the chains of control are strong; it's just that they're mostly hidden. One obvious area where they aren't, is the media. In 1989, during the Tiananmen protests in Beijing, a column of journalists from the Communist Party's official newspaper marched into the crowds at Tiananmen Square. They held a banner 25-feet wide bearing the words, "Don't force us to lie". It remains a telling insight, despite the passage of 16 years. Communist control in China is inseparable from media control. In my office, broadcasts of the BBC and CNN regularly go black when stories appear that the censors don't like.--------------

Sars whistle-blower wins freedom: Conditions of release include a ban on interviews

South China Morning Post, Thursday, March 24, 2005

Jiang Yanyong, the military doctor who blew the whistle on the cover-up of the mainland's Sars outbreak, was freed on Tuesday after eight months of house arrest. The Central Military Commission has told Dr Jiang it will "remove the measures taken against" him. He did not receive any punishment by the party or the military.

However, it is understood there are still several conditions the doctor has to meet, including a ban on media interviews. He, his family members and relatives are not allowed to discuss or write anything regarding his situation under shuanggui - a Communist Party procedure which requires the subject to report to investigators at specific times and locations. Apart from exposing the Sars cover-up, Dr Jiang had also added his voice to those calling for a reappraisal of the verdict on the Tiananmen Square demonstrations.-----------------

US Sees N.Korea as an Equal in Nuclear Talks: Seoul

Reuters, Thursday, March 24, 2005; 10:27 PM

SEOUL (Reuters) - The United States is prepared to talk to North Korea as an equal, and Pyongyang should take recent comments by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as a signal of that commitment, South Korea's foreign minister said on Friday.

Rice, during an Asian visit last week, called the North "a sovereign state," which foreign policy analysts said was an attempt to appease Pyongyang's demand that she apologize for having called it "an outpost of tyranny." "North Korea keeps talking about not getting treated right at the six-party talks, so (Rice) was noting a willingness to have dialogue as equals," South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon as telling a seminar.

North Korea has said a condition for a resumption of stalled six-party disarmament talks would be for the United States to cease a policy toward it that Pyongyang sees as hostile.-----------------

Taiwan Urges China to Renounce Force, Repair Ties

By Tiffany Wu, Reuters, Friday, March 25, 2005; 3:26 AM

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan said on Friday it will be difficult to resume fence-mending talks with China, stalled since 1999, unless Beijing shows respect for Taiwan democracy and renounces the use of force against the island. On the eve of a planned mass protest in Taipei against China's recently approved anti-secession law, Mainland Affairs Council chairman Joseph Wu urged Beijing to remedy the damage caused by the law, which he said has dealt a severe blow to ties.

"We also want the Chinese side to understand that we are angry, and we want to show the Chinese side that we are not going to budge if China is trying to limit our freedom of expression," Wu told a foreign media news conference. "We also want the Chinese side to clearly show that they will not resort to non-peaceful means against Taiwan under any circumstances," he said.

"If the Chinese continue to go on this path, then I think there is going to be no chance for the two sides to go on a positive direction for improvement of cross-strait relations in the short term," Wu said.-----------

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Japan vows utmost efforts to rebuild trust after Roh's statement

Kyodo News, March 24, 2005

TOKYO, March 24, Kyodo - Japan pledged Thursday to restore amicable relations with South Korea after President Roh Moo Hyun vowed Wednesday to make ''stern responses'' to the territorial and history disputes with Japan. ''We will make utmost efforts to build a trusting relationship as a neighbor, taking seriously the feelings of South Koreans over past history,'' Senior Vice Foreign Minister Ichiro Aisawa said in a press conference.

He said Japan would like to seriously consider it can do, ''including the possibility of referring the Takeshima issue to the International Court of Justice for verdict.'' Tensions between the two countries flared up after last week's establishment of an ordinance by the local assembly in Japan's Shimane Prefecture that designated Feb. 22 as ''Takeshima Day'' to press Japan's claim to disputed islets, known as Takeshima in Japan and Tokto in South Korea.

Roh vowed Wednesday in a message posted on the presidential office's website to make stern responses to Japan's ''efforts to justify the history of aggression and occupation and moves to obtain its object of hegemony,'' while reiterating Seoul's claim to the island.----------------

Administrative Town: President Roh's Reasoning Unconvincing

Editorial, The Korea Times, March 23, 2005

President Roh Moo-hyun said Tuesday the establishment of a new administrative capital in the Kongju-Yongi region, South Chongchong Province, was a strategic choice to resolve population congestion and economic concentration in Seoul and its surrounding areas. He made it clear that balanced national development is the aim of the project, brushing aside the general belief that it was a political consideration to woo voters in the Chungchong provinces. In his letter addressed to the nation, President Roh said that the judgment of the administration capital should be left to coming generations, .
However, his argument for the project was damaged by a report from JoongAng Ilbo revealing Roh opposed moving of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries to Pusan when he headed the agency in 2000. The report said that Roh thwarted the plan by arguing that the transfer of the ministry will lower its efficiency. He reasoned that the ministry would have to run another office in Seoul, and the minister and his staff would have to stay in Seoul when the National Assembly is in session.

Ironically, this is the same reasoning used by opponents of the establishment of a administrative capital. About 60 percent of those surveyed oppose the project. The impediment to administration efficiency is cited as their main reason. The government plans to move most state agencies to the new administrative capital, while keeping the presidential office and the National Assembly in Seoul. As long as Chong Wa Dae and the Assembly stays in Seoul, it will be impossible for the administration capital to perform its function properly. As Roh argued five years ago, the ministers and staff will be encumbered in doing their work because they will have to visit Seoul frequently to coordinate with the presidential office or attend parliamentary sessions.-----------------

China's Law On Taiwan Backfires: Anti-Secession Measure Hurts Efforts Abroad

Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, March 24, 2005; Page A13

BEIJING, March 23 -- China has paid a price abroad for enacting its controversial anti-secession law, spoiling a strategy for relations with Taiwan, undercutting a drive to end Europe's arms embargo and reinforcing unease over the growth in Chinese military power. Although the law did little more than codify long-standing policy, Taiwan and countries around the world have focused on the vow to use "non-peaceful means" to prevent Taiwanese independence. In the 10 days since the legislation passed, this focus has emphasized the image of a China willing to risk war across the Taiwan Strait, frustrating Chinese diplomatic efforts to depict the nation's rise as non-threatening.

In pushing forward with the law, President Hu Jintao and his government were weighing domestic considerations as well as foreign policy. Hu, who analysts say is still solidifying his power, was eager to be seen at home as a tough leader on the emotionally charged Taiwan issue. Work on the law began last fall, they noted, as Hu was taking over as military leader from former president Jiang Zemin.

Hu and other leaders have portrayed the new law as a needed check on Taiwan's independence activists -- including President Chen Shui-bian. Without the law to brake him, officials have said, Chen could take one step too many, producing a military conflict nobody wants.-------------

Glimpse of World Shatters North Koreans' Illusions

By HOWARD W. FRENCH, The New York Times, March 24, 2005

YANJI, China - Sitting on a bare floor in a chilly one-room apartment, Lee Hae Jon and her younger sister, Hae Sun, struggled recently for words to describe their lives since they clandestinely made their way here from North Korea five years ago. Their mother married a Chinese man and disappeared from their lives without a trace. Since then, a Chinese widow of Korean descent has taken the girls into her apartment and kept them clothed and fed. But for five years, the teenage sisters have not dared to go outside in daylight for fear of being sent back to their country, or worse, trafficked as young brides or prostitutes in this booming Chinese border city.

The sisters try to teach themselves Chinese, using a couple of old textbooks and repeating phrases from television, which they watch endlessly. A crude Hula-Hoop is their only source of exercise, and each knock on the door their only excitement. They never know whether it is help from their caretaker's friends or the police coming to arrest them.

"We have no friends, and no future, nothing at all, really," said the soft-spoken older sister, Hae Jon, 17. "But if we stay here, at least we have enough to eat. In our country, we could go for days without eating." Within months, according to an underground network of people who help support the sisters, Hae Jon may be alone. Hae Sun, a shy girl of 13, is dying of kidney cancer and is not permitted to be flown out of the country for advanced care.------------

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Pressure Mounts on North Korea to Return to Talks

By Lindsay Beck, Reuters, Wednesday, March 23, 2005; 4:32 AM

BEIJING (Reuters) - North Korea came under renewed pressure on Wednesday to return to six-country talks on its nuclear program as its premier, Pak Pong-ju, met Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing. A diplomatic source in Tokyo said the United States had a June deadline for Pyongyang to return to the table, and China -- the provider of 70 percent of the North's food and fuel aid -- wields particular leverage over its old ally.

With U.S. impatience over the stalled talks rising, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged North Korea at the weekend to return to negotiations immediately. She also said the United States had no intention of invading North Korea. Pak passed on a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to Hu, who was likely to have pressed Pak to make good on comments that the North supports the six-party process.

"The Korean side does not oppose the six-party talks, nor has it given up on the talks. If conditions are mature, the North Korean side is prepared to join the six-party talks at any time," Chinese TV quoted Pak as telling Premier Wen Jiabao on Tuesday.------------

Europe's Shift on Embargo Places Taiwan at Center Stage

By JOSEPH KAHN, The New York Times, March 23, 2005

BEIJING, March 22 - Reports of a shift in European plans to lift an arms embargo on China have sent a sobering message to China's new leadership, underscoring the sensitivity of its Taiwan policy and the continued dominance of the United States, Chinese analysts say. American and European officials said this week that the European Union might now delay its plan to lift the embargo, imposed after China's crackdown on democracy protests in 1989, until next year at the earliest, dealing a blow to one of China's major foreign policy goals.

European diplomats cited China's newly adopted antisecession law and intense American opposition to easing restraints on weapons sales to explain the shift. The Chinese law adopted this month threatens military action if Taiwan pursues formal independence from the mainland.

Few in China have openly criticized passage of the antisecession law, which Beijing leaders argue is needed to stop Taiwan's drift toward independence. But some foreign policy experts said the country was paying a high price for codifying its longstanding threat to use force into law.-------------

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

South Korea guards against cyber attack from Japan

Associated Press, March 20, 2005

South Korea's Foreign Ministry said Sunday that it was guarding against a possible Japanese cyber attack on its Web site as emotions run high in the two countries over a territorial dispute. Computer experts detected signs of alleged hackers in Japan trying to send massive loads of data to the ministry Web site.

"Our Web site has not been down, but we maintain our firewall in case there is a cyber attack," a ministry spokesman said on condition of anonymity. South Korea and Japan are locked in a territorial row over a set of rocky islets, called Dokdo and Takeshima in Japan, that lie roughly midway between the two nations. South Korea controls the islets, keeping a police contingent there. But Japan has regularly renewed its claim to the islets, and tempers recently flared in South Korea when a local Japanese assembly voted to designate a special day to commemorate Tokyo's claim.

On a visit to Seoul, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Washington has no position on the territorial dispute between its Asian allies. Japan ruled the Korean Peninsula as a colony from 1910 to 1945. Although South Korea joins Japan in international efforts to end communist North Korea's nuclear weapons programs, the two Koreas stand together in the islet feud. "It is the invariable intention of the Japanese reactionaries to put Korea again under their control and realize their ambition for territorial expansion," North Korea's official Minju Joson newspaper wrote Sunday. "Japan will never be able to stretch its hand to the islet or set foot on it."

Japan welcomes Annan's UNSC deadline

The Asahi Shimbun, 03/22/2005

Japan on Monday welcomed U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's weekend report stipulating a September deadline for members to decide on U.N. reform, including expansion of the Security Council. Annan's report said he wanted a decision reached before the scheduled September U.N. summit meeting.

``The Japanese government welcomes the resolve of the secretary-general to promote discussion among member states,'' Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura said. Japan can now create a specific schedule in pushing for a permanent seat on the Security Council. A senior Foreign Ministry official noted, ``What was significant was that it includes a deadline of reaching a conclusion by September.'' Annan's report, ``In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rights for All,'' is the most comprehensive paper urging reform since the United Nations was established. In it, Annan addresses poverty, economic development, Security Council reform, human rights and other vital issues.

In an earlier report released in November, Annan's panel described two options for achieving UNSC reforms, models A and B. Although Japan backs model A, which creates six new permanent members and three new nonpermanent members, the senior ministry official said he was not surprised that Annan's Sunday report did not expand further on the proposed models. Annan was careful to not indicate which model he supported in his Sunday report.-------------

Dispute Over Islets Frays Ties Between Tokyo and Seoul

By NORIMITSU ONISHI, The New York Times, March 22, 2005

SEOUL, South Korea, March 21 - In what had been billed as the South Korea-Japan friendship year, in recognition of 40 years of normalized relations, Japanese claims over two disputed remote islets have recently worsened relations between America's two most important Asian allies. The claims over the islets, called Tokdo in South Korea and Takeshima in Japan, were regarded here as an attempt to justify Japanese colonial rule and have drawn huge protests in front of the Japanese Embassy in recent days. A mother and son each cut off a finger; a man whose father had been brutally forced to serve in the Japanese Imperial Army, Heo Kyung Wook, 54, set himself on fire.

"My father passed away 20 years ago, but he used to tell us stories about how the Japanese treated him, and my anger built up over the years," Mr. Heo said Monday, recuperating at a hospital here from burns to his lower body and neck. "When I saw the news about Tokdo on television, I couldn't contain my anger."

Raw anger at Japan's militaristic past remains just below the surface here, as it does in other parts of Asia invaded by Japan, even as Japan itself grows less open to addressing its problematic history. In a region where the balance of power is shifting because of the rise of China and its perceived threat to American influence, the fracas over the islets shows the combustible addition of nationalism in Japan and on the Korean peninsula.--------------

European Union Said to Keep Embargo on Arms to China

By STEVEN R. WEISMAN, The New York Times, March 22, 2005

WASHINGTON, March 21 - Yielding to pressure from President Bush and threats of retaliation from Congress, the European Union has put off plans to lift its arms embargo on China this spring and may not press the issue until next year, American and European officials said Monday.

The officials said that in addition to American pressure, European nations have been shaken by the recent adoption of legislation by the Chinese National People's Congress authorizing the use of force to stop Taiwan from seceding. The Chinese action, they said, jolted France and undercut its moves to end the embargo before June. "Europe wants to move forward on the embargo, but the recent actions by China have made things a lot more complex," said a senior European official. "The timeline has become more difficult. The timeline is going to have to slip."

The embargo was imposed after China's crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in 1989, and although some countries have eased their restrictions, it has curbed the supply of weapons to China while also becoming a major irritant in China's relations with the West.--------------

Beware of self-fulfilling prophecies

By Joseph Nye, Taipei Times, Monday, Mar 21, 2005,Page 8

Note: Joseph Nye, a former US assistant secretary of defense, is distinguished service professor at Harvard, and author of Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics.

In recent weeks, China announced a 12.6 percent increase in its defense spending; the American CIA director, Porter Goss, testified about a worsening military balance in the Taiwan Strait; and US President George W. Bush pleaded with Europeans not to lift their embargo on arms sales to China. Yet Chinese leaders have spoken of China's "peaceful rise" or, more recently, its "peaceful development."

Analysts such as John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago have flatly proclaimed that China cannot rise peacefully, and predict that "the United States and China are likely to engage in an intense security competition with considerable potential for war." Optimists point out that China has engaged in good neighbor policies since the 1990s, settled border disputes, played a greater role in international institutions, and recognized the benefits of using soft power. But skeptics reply that China is merely waiting for its economy to lay the basis for future hegemony.

Who is right? We will not know for some time, but the debaters should recall Thucydides' warning more than two millennia ago that belief in the inevitability of conflict can become one of its main causes. Each side, believing it will end up at war with the other, makes reasonable military preparations that are read by the other side as confirmation of its worst fears.--------------

Monday, March 21, 2005

Report: Chinese Economy to See Growth

The Associated Press, Monday, March 21, 2005; 7:20 AM

SHANGHAI, China - The Chinese economy will continue to grow at a robust rate of 8 percent annually through the remainder of the decade, government researchers said in a report published Monday. The forecast by the Development Research Institute, a think tank attached to the State Council, or Cabinet, was published in the state-run newspaper China Securities Journal. It exceeds earlier predictions of growth averaging about 7 percent.

By 2010, China's average per capita gross domestic product will reach $1,700, the report said. China's GDP grew 9.5 percent on-year in 2004 to 13.65 trillion yuan ($1.65 trillion) - or roughly 10,500 yuan ($1,200) per capita. The high growth came despite government efforts to slow investment, which authorities fear could ignite politically and financially destabilizing inflation. The government has forecast growth for this year at between 8 percent and 9 percent.

Sunday, March 20, 2005


Property of Korea Herald

The words North Korea was so interested in hearing, were finally uttered by the "loyal" Secretary of State:

"The United States has no intention to attack North Korea"

According to the Korea Herald:
"U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday urged North Korea to make a "strategic choice" to give up its nuclear weapons, and repeated that the United States has no intention of attacking the North.
"North Koreans know that the United States said repeatedly that we have no intention of invading or attacking North Korea," Rice said at a joint news conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon before leaving for China on the final leg of an Asian tour. She came here after visiting India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Japan. "

By Lee Joo-hee
Article Link

Well... they had better not. The US cannot afford another war. Look at the numbers -- the US is in red ALL OVER. While George W. Bush wants to help the future generations in his quest of ideology, he might help the children of Afghanistan and Iraq, but he is certainly not doing much for the unpriviledged Americans...

What do you think?

Is Rice doing a good job?

Keeping in mind its role as a common staple in East Asia, "Rice" must have been a success :)

China growth theatens the Mekong

"For countless generations, fishermen along the Mekong River have passed their lore and way of life from father to son: the rhythms of the water, the habits of the many kinds of fish, the best nets and traps to use to survive and prosper."

By Jane Perlez, The New York Times
Article Link

Yet, things will not carry on as smoothly with the Mekong in the future... that is, if China's insatiable demand for energy continues.

Will China be able to bridle its very high demand in power/electricity?

Would "clean" energy sources (wind, solar, wave, etc.) help save East Asias natural treasures?

Is the world going to end once China is fully industrialized?

What can "the West do"?

We need your input!

Rice: European Nations Must Not Arm China

By ANNE GEARAN, The Associated Press, Sunday, March 20, 2005; 6:11 AM

BEIJING - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice suggested Sunday that European governments are irresponsible if they sell sophisticated weaponry to China that might one day be used against U.S. forces in the Pacific. "It is the United States, not Europe, that is defending the Pacific," Rice said. She spoke in Seoul, the penultimate stop on her weeklong tour of Asia.

South Korea, Japan and the United States are all Pacific powers and all contribute resources to keep the Asia-Pacific region stable, Rice said. The European Union may soon lift an arms embargo on China that was imposed after the deadly 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square. Lifting the embargo would allow sale of technology and weapons that China badly wants to modernize its creaky military. China has recently gone on a military spending spree that Rice said concerns the United States.

"The European Union should do nothing to contribute," to the possibility that Chinese forces might turn European technology on Americans, Rice said after meetings with the South Korean president and foreign minister.---------------

Visiting Korea Base, Rice Sends Forceful Reminder to the North

By JOEL BRINKLEY, The New York Times, March 20, 2005

COMMAND POST TANGO, South Korea, Sunday, March 20 - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stepped off her airplane in Seoul on Saturday evening, boarded an Army Black Hawk helicopter and immediately flew to this underground command bunker from which military commanders would direct any war against North Korea.

"I wanted to come here to thank you for what you do on the front lines of freedom," she told more than 100 service members in the war room, carved deep inside a mountain south of Seoul. "I know you face a close-in threat every day."

The visit, a pointed reminder of American military capacity on the peninsula, came just hours after a speech in Tokyo in which Ms. Rice repeated that the United States had no intention of attacking North Korea. But Ms. Rice's aides are also making it plain that the administration has run out of patience with North Korea's continued refusal to rejoin nuclear disarmament talks.

A senior official traveling with Ms. Rice said she was trying to send a clear message that it was time to bring talks over the North's nuclear weapons program "to a satisfactory conclusion."

Ms. Rice's action was a departure from diplomatic protocol on several levels. It is highly unusual for a secretary of state's first destination in a country to be a military site instead of a diplomatic event, especially an American installation instead of a South Korean one.

Past presidents and secretaries of state and defense have traveled to frontline defenses against North Korea, but not to any underground bunker. And they have usually been careful not to come across as bellicose, accompanying their moves with conciliatory language, in part not to alarm South Koreans. ------------------

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Isles row may hit sale of Japan goods in S. Korea: Koreans angered by Tokyo's claim over islands call for a boycott of goods

REUTERS, March 19, 2005

SEOUL - JUST as some of Japan's biggest brands were making inroads into South Korea, a territorial row over a sprinkling of desolate islands may trim sales following calls in Seoul to boycott Japanese goods. What may yet bring the dispute between the two North Asian neighbours into even sharper focus is that the islands probably sit on a huge reserve of natural gas that could be worth US$150 billion (S$245 billion), according to Korea Gas estimates.

The islands, called Dokdo in South Korea and Takeshima in Japan, lie midway between the two countries about 220km from either shore in the Sea of Japan, which Seoul calls the East Sea. Few people outside the two countries have heard of the islands. But the rhetorical fight between the world's second- and 11th-largest economies over the uninhabited rocky outcroppings shows few signs of waning.

South Korea was outraged this week when a local Japanese assembly enacted a largely symbolic bylaw stressing Tokyo's claim to the islands. South Koreans took to the streets in protest, burning Japanese flags and even cutting off fingers. That anger could translate into an impact on sales for famous Japanese names such as Toyota and Sony if South Korean consumers shun Japanese goods, economists said.---------

Tourism drive to promote socialist ideology: Communist Party highlights 100 historical sites to boost its image and create jobs

By Jason Leow, The Straits Times, March 19, 2005

SHANGHAI - FOUNDING fathers of China's Communist Party bathed in soft glow. Thirteen wax figures seated around a table charting the future of the People's Republic of China. A chart, in Chinese and English, plotting the rise of the working class.

Here at the Shanghai Memorial Hall where the first congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) took place in 1921, socialism looks every bit as contemporary as its setting. The museum has a prime spot in Shanghai's Xintiandi, an enclave of expensive restaurants and lifestyle shops popular with foreigners. 'You can tell the party is keeping up with the times,' said Mr Li Xiong, 47, a manager from a steel factory in south-western Yunnan province.

'We're in Shanghai for a meeting but this visit is also part of work.' His state firm arranged the museum trip. Mr Li may not know it, but the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched a nationwide campaign last month to revive the people's interest in socialist history. Through tourism, it is hoped that ideology can become hip again.

In the first phase, 100 sites across the country are being earmarked as 'red tourism' spots.-------------

Rice Puts Japan At Center of New U.S. Vision of Asia: China Challenged in Major Speech

By Glenn Kessler, Washington Post Staff Writer, Saturday, March 19, 2005; Page A16

TOKYO, March 19 -- Condoleezza Rice, on her first foray into Asia as secretary of state, outlined on Saturday a new U.S. vision of Japan's increasing importance as a global power and challenged China to open its political system and work harder to "embrace some form of genuinely representative government."

In a speech to about 500 professors and students at Sophia University here, Rice offered an expansive view of Japan's role in the world -- including unambiguous support for its campaign to win a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council -- that suggested the administration viewed the longtime U.S. ally as a counterbalance to the rising regional influence of China.

Rice said the United States welcomed "the rise of a confident, peaceful and prosperous China," but she warned that China must be "willing to match its growing capabilities to its international responsibilities," referencing in particular its economic dealings with Sudan and Burma, both repressive regimes.----------------

Russian Denies War Games With China Are a Signal to Taiwan

By JIM YARDLEY, The New York Times, March 19, 2005

BEIJING, March 18 - Yuri Baluyevsky, Russia's top general, outlined plans with Chinese officials this week for the first joint military exercises between the countries and played down concerns that they could further aggravate rising regional tensions.

General Baluyevsky, speaking Thursday during the first day of his four-day China visit, said the war games reflected the countries' shared desire to develop closer strategic military ties and were "not targeted at any third country," according to Chinese state news media. He also denied a report in the Russian press that China hoped to use the games as a training exercise to simulate a military action against Taiwan.

The general's visit began three days after China passed a so-called antisecession law that could authorize Chinese leaders to begin a military attack if they believed that Taiwan had moved too far toward independence. The United States, Taiwan and Japan have criticized the law as unnecessary and provocative at a time when relations between China and Taiwan appear to have been warming. But Russia's ambassador in Beijing told the official Chinese news media that his country welcomed the law as a tool to maintain peace.-------------

Friday, March 18, 2005

Rice Presses China for Fresh North Korea Nuke Talks

By Saul Hudson, Reuters, March 18, 2005

TOKYO (Reuters) - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pressured China on Friday to persuade North Korea to return to nuclear arms talks as she launched a drive across Asia to revive the negotiations. Rice said China, North Korea's main benefactor, needed to use its leverage over its fellow-communist neighbor to bring Pyongyang back to the six-party talks.

Her pressure came after signs that U.S. patience with the negotiations, which also involve Japan, South Korea and Russia, is running out. North Korea has stalled them since June. "I'll leave to the Chinese what leverage they use or what mechanisms they use, but I do think it is important that the diplomacy that the Chinese do with the North Koreans be effective," Rice told reporters aboard her plane as she flew to Tokyo halfway through her first trip to Asia as secretary of state.

After starting in South Asia, Rice's trip will now be dominated by North Korea as she visits in successive days Japan, South Korea and China, who differ with the United States over tactics for the talks. While U.S. officials complain that talks host Beijing should do more to pressure Pyongyang, Chinese diplomats want Washington to tone down rhetoric that they say is undermining their efforts for a resumption of negotiations. North Korea, which said on Feb. 10 it had built a nuclear weapon, cites U.S. rhetoric as a sign of a "hostile" Bush administration policy toward it and has demanded Rice apologize for labeling the country an "outpost of tyranny."----------------

Tide of Tension on Taiwan Strait: Anger at China's Anti-Secession Law Is Tempered With Caution

By Edward Cody, Washington Post Foreign Service, Friday, March 18, 2005; Page A14

TAIPEI, Taiwan, March 17 -- China's new anti-secession law has produced a sudden rise in tension across the Taiwan Strait, leaving Taipei in a combative mood and putting an indefinite hold on practical improvements such as direct airline flights to mainland China.

President Chen Shui-bian, an ardent champion of independence for this self-governing island, has led his countrymen in venting anger at the legislation, calling it a "guillotine" over Taiwan's head. But he has been careful to limit his response to rhetoric, avoiding steps that China would regard as provocative and that could cost Taiwan what it has gained in international sympathy since the law was passed in Beijing on Monday. "We are trying to be the responsible side in this dispute," said Hsiao Bikhim, a legislator and foreign policy specialist in Chen's Democratic Progressive Party.

Nevertheless, the Chinese legislation, with its threat to use "non-peaceful means" to prevent Taiwan's formal independence, has, for the foreseeable future, poisoned what had been an improving atmosphere and canceled out a string of conciliatory gestures from both sides that had raised hopes for progress in the long and bitter standoff.--------------

Rice: U.S. Awaits N. Korea Answer on Nukes

By ANNE GEARAN, The Associated Press, Friday, March 18, 2005; 6:46 AM

TOKYO - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice indicated Friday that the next move in a standoff over North Korea's nuclear program will be up to the Pyongyang government, and she played down expectations that her visit to Asian capitals will produce a breakthrough.

North Korea pulled out of six-nation nuclear arms talks and announced last month that it has already built a nuclear weapon. "We need to intensify efforts to not just get the North Koreans back to the table, that's important, yes, but there is a proposal on the table from the United States," Rice said during a news conference en route to Japan.

The United States has offered assurances that it has no intention of attacking North Korea and that Pyongyang can have other unspecified security guarantees if it renounces nuclear weapons.-----------------

Thursday, March 17, 2005

U.S. Won't Seek to Condemn China at UN Rights Meet

Reuters, Thursday, March 17, 2005; 4:53 AM

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United States, which last month strongly accused Beijing of rights abuses, will not ask this year's session of the U.N. human rights body to censure China, a U.S. spokeswoman in Geneva said on Thursday.

In its annual review of respect for human rights around the world, the State Department last month said Beijing had used the global war on terrorism to crack down on peaceful opponents and committed other persistent abuses.

But U.S. spokeswoman Brooks Robinson said that Washington, which tried and failed to get the Commission on Human Rights to criticize Beijing in 2004, had decided that the situation there had improved over the past year. "There have been improvements," she said.

Islands Come Between South Korea and Japan: Ordinance Intensifies Diplomatic Dispute

By Anthony Faiola, Washington Post Foreign Service, March 17, 2005; Page A19

SEOUL, March 16 -- South Korean officials denounced an ordinance passed Wednesday by a Japanese local council that reinforces Japan's claim to a disputed island chain between the two countries. The new law, and South Korea's reaction, escalated a quarrel that analysts say could damage their diplomatic ties.

The bill was approved by Japan's Shimane prefecture assembly as hundreds of nationalists sporting paramilitary gear urged the council on. The measure established an annual Takeshima Day, which highlights Japan's claim to the uninhabited volcanic outcroppings. The islands are known as Takeshima in Japanese and as Dokdo in Korean. Debate on the measure has sparked more than a week of violent anti-Japanese protests in South Korea, which lodged an official complaint with Japan over the law. Lee Kyu Hyung, a spokesman for South Korea's Foreign Ministry, called the law an "impure intention to impair our sovereignty" and vowed that Japan would be held "fully responsible for any incident that may occur" as a result of its passage.

Last week, South Korea canceled a visit to Tokyo by Foreign Minister Ban Ki Moon after Japanese officials said the issue was a local matter in which the national government could not interfere. On Wednesday, Japan's prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, called for calm. "Both sides need to deal with this in a levelheaded manner with the basic tone of friendship between Japan and South Korea, not swayed too much by the recent emotional conflict," he said in Tokyo. South Korea announced a series of "counter-measures" aimed at Japan, including allowing citizens to make regular visits to the islands, something largely forbidden in the past. A Seoul city assemblyman visiting the Shimane prefecture assembly hall Wednesday was seized by Japanese police after he appeared to make preparations to cut his finger with a knife in order to write a statement in blood.--------------

Islands Come Between South Korea and Japan: Ordinance Intensifies Diplomatic Dispute

By Anthony Faiola, Washington Post Foreign Service, March 17, 2005; Page A19

SEOUL, March 16 -- South Korean officials denounced an ordinance passed Wednesday by a Japanese local council that reinforces Japan's claim to a disputed island chain between the two countries. The new law, and South Korea's reaction, escalated a quarrel that analysts say could damage their diplomatic ties.

The bill was approved by Japan's Shimane prefecture assembly as hundreds of nationalists sporting paramilitary gear urged the council on. The measure established an annual Takeshima Day, which highlights Japan's claim to the uninhabited volcanic outcroppings. The islands are known as Takeshima in Japanese and as Dokdo in Korean. Debate on the measure has sparked more than a week of violent anti-Japanese protests in South Korea, which lodged an official complaint with Japan over the law. Lee Kyu Hyung, a spokesman for South Korea's Foreign Ministry, called the law an "impure intention to impair our sovereignty" and vowed that Japan would be held "fully responsible for any incident that may occur" as a result of its passage.

Last week, South Korea canceled a visit to Tokyo by Foreign Minister Ban Ki Moon after Japanese officials said the issue was a local matter in which the national government could not interfere. On Wednesday, Japan's prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, called for calm. "Both sides need to deal with this in a levelheaded manner with the basic tone of friendship between Japan and South Korea, not swayed too much by the recent emotional conflict," he said in Tokyo. South Korea announced a series of "counter-measures" aimed at Japan, including allowing citizens to make regular visits to the islands, something largely forbidden in the past. A Seoul city assemblyman visiting the Shimane prefecture assembly hall Wednesday was seized by Japanese police after he appeared to make preparations to cut his finger with a knife in order to write a statement in blood.--------------

Islands Come Between South Korea and Japan: Ordinance Intensifies Diplomatic Dispute

By Anthony Faiola, Washington Post Foreign Service, March 17, 2005; Page A19

SEOUL, March 16 -- South Korean officials denounced an ordinance passed Wednesday by a Japanese local council that reinforces Japan's claim to a disputed island chain between the two countries. The new law, and South Korea's reaction, escalated a quarrel that analysts say could damage their diplomatic ties.

The bill was approved by Japan's Shimane prefecture assembly as hundreds of nationalists sporting paramilitary gear urged the council on. The measure established an annual Takeshima Day, which highlights Japan's claim to the uninhabited volcanic outcroppings. The islands are known as Takeshima in Japanese and as Dokdo in Korean. Debate on the measure has sparked more than a week of violent anti-Japanese protests in South Korea, which lodged an official complaint with Japan over the law. Lee Kyu Hyung, a spokesman for South Korea's Foreign Ministry, called the law an "impure intention to impair our sovereignty" and vowed that Japan would be held "fully responsible for any incident that may occur" as a result of its passage.

Last week, South Korea canceled a visit to Tokyo by Foreign Minister Ban Ki Moon after Japanese officials said the issue was a local matter in which the national government could not interfere. On Wednesday, Japan's prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, called for calm. "Both sides need to deal with this in a levelheaded manner with the basic tone of friendship between Japan and South Korea, not swayed too much by the recent emotional conflict," he said in Tokyo. South Korea announced a series of "counter-measures" aimed at Japan, including allowing citizens to make regular visits to the islands, something largely forbidden in the past. A Seoul city assemblyman visiting the Shimane prefecture assembly hall Wednesday was seized by Japanese police after he appeared to make preparations to cut his finger with a knife in order to write a statement in blood.--------------

Islands Come Between South Korea and Japan: Ordinance Intensifies Diplomatic Dispute

By Anthony Faiola, Washington Post Foreign Service, March 17, 2005; Page A19

SEOUL, March 16 -- South Korean officials denounced an ordinance passed Wednesday by a Japanese local council that reinforces Japan's claim to a disputed island chain between the two countries. The new law, and South Korea's reaction, escalated a quarrel that analysts say could damage their diplomatic ties.

The bill was approved by Japan's Shimane prefecture assembly as hundreds of nationalists sporting paramilitary gear urged the council on. The measure established an annual Takeshima Day, which highlights Japan's claim to the uninhabited volcanic outcroppings. The islands are known as Takeshima in Japanese and as Dokdo in Korean. Debate on the measure has sparked more than a week of violent anti-Japanese protests in South Korea, which lodged an official complaint with Japan over the law. Lee Kyu Hyung, a spokesman for South Korea's Foreign Ministry, called the law an "impure intention to impair our sovereignty" and vowed that Japan would be held "fully responsible for any incident that may occur" as a result of its passage.

Last week, South Korea canceled a visit to Tokyo by Foreign Minister Ban Ki Moon after Japanese officials said the issue was a local matter in which the national government could not interfere. On Wednesday, Japan's prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, called for calm. "Both sides need to deal with this in a levelheaded manner with the basic tone of friendship between Japan and South Korea, not swayed too much by the recent emotional conflict," he said in Tokyo. South Korea announced a series of "counter-measures" aimed at Japan, including allowing citizens to make regular visits to the islands, something largely forbidden in the past. A Seoul city assemblyman visiting the Shimane prefecture assembly hall Wednesday was seized by Japanese police after he appeared to make preparations to cut his finger with a knife in order to write a statement in blood.--------------

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

In Asia, Rice Says North Korea More Isolated From Neighbors

By Glenn Kessler, Washington Post Staff Writer, Wednesday, March 16, 2005; Page A17

NEW DELHI, March 16 -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asserted Tuesday that North Korea's "isolation from its neighbors has deepened" as it has bolstered its nuclear stockpile in the past year, even as South Korea and China continue to maintain close economic links to the North.

Speaking to reporters as she traveled to India for the first leg of a week-long Asian tour, Rice also brushed aside North Korea's pronouncement Tuesday that it might increase its nuclear arsenal to maintain a balance of power in East Asia and help prevent a U.S. attack. Rice reiterated the administration's position that it had "no intention" of attacking or invading North Korea. She said the Bush administration understood that South Korea needed to seek good relations with its neighbor, but she said "the relationship is not moving as rapidly as it once was" because the North continues to develop weapons.

Rice, who praised nuclear rivals India and Pakistan for reducing tensions in recent years, met with senior Indian leaders Wednesday and was to fly to Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, later in the day for talks there. She will also make her first visit to Afghanistan before flying to East Asia on Friday for discussions about the crisis over North Korea's nuclear ambitions.--------------

Japan to halt fresh yen loans to China in FY08

Kyodo News, March 16, 2005

TOKYO, March 16, Kyodo - The Japanese government has decided to halt new yen loans to China in fiscal 2008 to coincide with Beijing's hosting of the Olympic Games, government officials said Tuesday.
The officials said the government has been working with China to cut around 10 percent of Japan's fresh yen loans to the communist country in fiscal 2004 as part of Japan's policy to phase out yen loans excluding those for ongoing projects.

Yen loans account for about 90 percent of Tokyo's official development assistance to China. The government plans to seek approval of its aid policy for China at a joint meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's panels tasked with foreign affairs on Thursday, the officials said.

The two countries have basically agreed on Tokyo's plan to phase out its yen loans to Beijing. Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura and Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing apparently reconfirmed their informal agreement during a telephone conversation on Tuesday evening. The Japanese government is under pressure to reduce or end its ODA to China due to China's booming economy and big military spending. Some LDP lawmakers are demanding an immediate halt to yen loans to China due to the incursion of a Chinese nuclear-powered submarine into Japanese waters last November and other unfriendly actions.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

N Korea may ‘boost nuclear arsenal’ to deter US

By Song Jung-a in Seoul, The Financial Times, March 15 2005

North Korea said Tuesday it would boost its nuclear arsenal to deter an attack by the US, condemning the upcoming joint military exercises by the US and South Korea. The statement came as Condoleezza Rice, US Secretary of State, left for Asia to discuss ways to get the communist state to return to the six-party talks on dismantling its nuclear programme.

“The DPRK will take necessary counter-measures, including bolstering its nuclear arsenal to cope with the extremely hostile attempt of the US to bring down the system in the DPRK,” a spokesman for the North's foreign ministry told its official Korean Central News Agency. DPRK is short for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name. The US and South Korea are scheduled to start joint military exercises on Saturday. North Korea denounced the regular drills as preparations for an invasion of the country. About 33,000 US troops are stationed in South Korea to deter a possible attack by the North.

Last month, Pyongyang declared that it had built nuclear weapons and was pulling out of the six-nation talks, also involving the US, Japan, China, Russia and South Korea. But it later backtracked on its declaration, offering to discuss its nuclear weapons programme if Washington showed “sincerity”. The latest nuclear threat is seen as the North's attempt to increase its bargaining power at the next round of the multilateral talks.-----------------

How Electronics Are Penetrating North Korea's Isolation

By JAMES BROOKE, The New York Times, March 15, 2005

SEOUL, South Korea - Halfway through a video from North Korea, the camera pans on a propaganda portrait of Kim Jong Il, North Korea's leader, magnificent in his general's dress uniform with gold epaulets. Scribbled in black ink across his smooth face is a demand for "freedom and democracy."

If genuine, the graffiti speaks of political opponents willing to risk execution to get their message out. If staged, the video means that a North Korean hustler was willing to deface a picture of the "Dear Leader" to earn a quick profit by selling it to a South Korean human rights group. Either way, the 35-minute video is the latest evidence that new ways of thinking are stealing into North Korea, perhaps corroding the steely controls on ideology and information that have kept the Kim family in power for almost 60 years.

The construction of cellular relay stations last fall along the Chinese side of the border has allowed some North Koreans in border towns to use prepaid Chinese cellphones to call relatives and reporters in South Korea, defectors from North Korea say. And after DVD players swept northern China two years ago, entrepreneurs collected castoff videocassette recorders and peddled them in North Korea. Now tapes of South Korean soap operas are so popular that state television in Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, is campaigning against South Korean hairstyles, clothing and slang, visitors and defectors have said.----------------

Monday, March 14, 2005

S.Koreans Chop Off Fingers in Anti-Japan Protest

Reuters, March 14, 2005; 3:55 AM

SEOUL (Reuters) - Two Koreans used weed clippers and a knife to lop off fingers on Monday outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul to protest at Tokyo's claims on a group of desolate islands that South Korea insists is its territory. Park Kyung-ja, a 67-year-old woman, and Cho Seung-kyu, 40, each chopped off a finger during a rally at the embassy gates.

The long-simmering dispute over the islands, called Tokto in Korea and Takeshima in Japan, flared as Tokyo and Seoul were celebrating the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties. Park and Cho struggled with police in riot gear guarding the embassy as they severed their digits. Police said the pair were then rushed away for medical treatment.--------------------------

China Threat to Attack Taiwan Alarms Asia

By JOSEPH COLEMAN, The Associated Press, March 14, 2005

TOKYO - China's threat Monday to oppose Taiwanese independence with military force triggered a call for peaceful dialogue from Japan and a discussion of Australia's treaty obligations should a war break out. But Russia and Pakistan supported Beijing's new legislation.

"I want the two sides to work hard toward a peaceful solution, so there will not be any negative impact," said Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, whose government recently declared a diplomatic resolution of the Taiwan dispute as a strategic objective with the United States. China's parliament passed a law Monday authorizing an attack to stop Taiwan from pursuing formal independence, a day after President Hu Jintao told the Chinese military to be prepared for war. The ceremonial National People's Congress approved the legislation over U.S. calls for restraint and warnings by Taiwan that it would damage regional stability and fragile ties between Beijing and Taipei.

An outbreak of hostilities would be a severe blow to stability in East Asia, possibly prompting a response from the United States - which has some 50,000 troops in Japan and 35,000 in South Korea - to defend Taiwan. Such a conflict could pin top U.S. allies in the area such as Japan and Australia between treaty obligations to Washington and reluctance to alienate China, which is assuming a growing political and economic role in the region.----------------------

On Asia Trip, Rice to Nudge Allies on N. Korea: Secretary Seeks to Knit Common Message

By Glenn Kessler, Washington Post Staff Writer, March 13, 2005; Page A23

With the crisis over North Korea's nuclear programs looming in the background, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice this week will dash across Asia, seeking to nudge East Asian allies into a coordinated strategy for confronting the reclusive communist nation.

Some U.S. and Asian officials are increasingly convinced North Korea has no intention of giving up its nuclear weapons programs, opening up the possibility that the Bush administration and perhaps Japan would begin to favor pressing for tougher action against the reclusive communist nation. But many Chinese and South Korean officials believe it is necessary to keep pressing along the diplomatic track, even though North Korea has refused to return to six-nation negotiating sessions that have been dormant for nine months.

Rice, who leaves tomorrow, will begin her week-long journey in South Asia. She will assess the rapprochement between India and Pakistan -- including possibly approving the sale of F-16 fighter jets to both countries -- and visit Afghanistan to discuss the nation's epidemic of opium production. Then, during a visit to Japan, South Korea and China, Rice will address the North Korean problem. She will also give a speech in Japan about Asia's role in the world, a theme that would encompass not only Japan's interest in playing a greater role in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but also the growing economic, political and military might of China.-----------

China to Limit Term of Hong Kong's Next Leader

By KEITH BRADSHER, The New York Times, March 13, 2005

HONG KONG, March 13 - - A decision by the Hong Kong government to shorten the term of the territory's next chief executive, as demanded by Beijing, drew strong objections today and late Saturday from democracy advocates, who warned the plan could trigger a constitutional crisis.

The Basic Law, Hong Kong's mini-constitution, mentions only five-year terms for chief executives. But Elsie Leung, the territory's secretary for justice, announced on Saturday, after a visit to Beijing, that a new chief executive would be chosen this summer to complete the two remaining years in the current term of Tung Chee-hwa. Complaining of stress and other health problems, Mr. Tung submitted his resignation on Thursday. It took effect immediately when Beijing officials accepted it on Saturday. Donald Tsang, who had been the chief secretary here, became acting chief executive.

Mr. Tsang said at a news conference on Saturday evening that the same 800-member Electoral Committee of Beijing loyalists that selected Mr. Tung by acclamation for a second, five-year term in 2002 would meet on July 10 to choose a successor. The government here plans to amend the local election ordinance to make this possible, Mr. Tsang added.----------------

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Hyundai - the turning of the tide!

Cookiesap is back, after a long period of non-activity on his behalf (due to computer problems). Thank god, Chin-Fu posted so many intriguing articles!

Being a Koreaphile, he would like to share with you an article about the Hyundai and how the tide is turning for the Ulsan Automaker.

LINK to the Article (

Do you think Hyndai is closer to a wheel-barrow or a standard saloon/sedan?

Should we invest our entire retirement savings in Hyndai?

Brazen China

Editorial, The Washington Post, Saturday, March 12, 2005; Page A18

PERHAPS CHINA'S Communist leadership was worried that the world would get the wrong idea from the recent flurry of conciliatory gestures and concessions it has exchanged with the government of Taiwan -- steps that have suggested the possibility of a civilized and peaceful rapprochement between the neighbors. In any case, President Hu Jintao has now made clear that Beijing's policy of openly threatening Taiwan with a war of aggression remains intact. The centerpiece of this month's meeting of the rubber-stamp National People's Congress is "anti-secession" legislation that legally binds China to attack the island -- a move that likely would mean a military conflict with the United States -- if it fails to meet China's political demands. Chief among these is that Taiwan's democratically elected president, Chen Shui-bian, drop one of the central planks of his platform, which is reform of Taiwan's constitution.

Mr. Chen hasn't taken any steps toward the constitutional reform, which in any case would be largely cosmetic. Since suffering defeat in a legislative election in December, he has been reaching out to China; he even struck a deal with a pro-Beijing opposition leader in which he pledged to work to relax investment and transport restrictions and reiterated promises not to seek independence for Taiwan. Mr. Hu's answer is to mandate, by law, that peaceful democratic political activity on Taiwan trigger invasion by China. This extraordinary bellicosity is backed up by deeds: Last week Beijing announced a 12 percent increase in its defense budget, continuing years of double-digit growth that have made it the largest military spender in the world after the United States. In recent years the buildup has been designed to prepare for an invasion and to repel U.S. forces that might seek to intervene. Hundreds of missiles have been deployed within range of Taiwan, and new surface ships and submarines have been purchased from Russia.

In sum, a totalitarian Chinese government has openly renewed its resolve to wage war and is working hard to acquire the means to do so. Which brings us to the European Union, which is preparing to lift its embargo on arms sales to China despite appeals and warnings of the Bush administration and Congress. France and Germany -- fierce opponents of military force when used by the United States against a vicious dictator -- remain eager to sell weapons systems to a regime that has formally committed itself to aggression against a democracy. Rather than joining with the United States to help keep the peace in Asia, they would cater to the country that promises to break it. In effect, the Europeans place their own narrow commercial interests -- which they pursue in competition with U.S. companies -- above security cooperation with their NATO ally. It is a grossly irresponsible policy.

As Taiwan Tensions Rise, Chinese Invoke Lincoln

By Benjamin Kang Lim, Reuters, Sunday, March 13, 2005; 2:56 AM

BEIJING (Reuters) - As China's parliament prepares to pass a bill aimed at barring Taiwan from independence, many on the mainland speak of a historical precedent rooted not in Mao or Marx, but in an unlikely hero -- Abraham Lincoln. The U.S. president who went to war in 1861 to prevent the southern states from splitting from the union has more admirers than one might expect in a Communist country that eschews Western-style democracy. Several postings in China's Internet chat rooms likened modern China-Taiwan relations with the American Civil War.

And many Internet surfers use Lincoln to justify the bill, which mandates the use of military force against the self-ruled island China has claimed as its own since their split at the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. If Lincoln could go to war to prevent the South from seceding, why shouldn't China have a law bill allowing force if the democratic island formally declares independence, asked one "netizen," Zheng Deqing, a student from southern China. "Lincoln had a positive side. He prevented the country's secession which led to rapid economic development," the 22-year-old student said in a telephone interview from the special economic zone of Shantou in southern Guangdong province. Another posting on the chat room of the Communist Party mouthpiece, the People's Daily, read: "China opposes secessionism just like the U.S. opposed it during the north-south war."

Lincoln's ideals of freedom, equality and democracy are somewhat conveniently dropped, or lost in translation. Shanghai-based Oriental Outlook magazine described use of the word "secession" in English as pure genius, noting it has a "special historical significance for Americans." U.S. scholars say the analogy quickly falls flat. "It seems to me that the parallels between the anti-secession law and the U.S. situation are badly misplaced," June Dreyer, a political science professor at the University of Miami, said. In Taiwan's case, Dreyer notes, it was never part of Communist China and has never expressed an interest in joining. "So, (it is) a very different situation ... You can't secede from something you aren't part of," she said. Nonetheless, this reality has not kept Lincoln from developing a popularity at the highest level in China. Former Communist Party chief and president Jiang Zemin would recite the Gettysburg Address to American guests. During a visit to Washington in 1999, then Premier Zhu Rongji said Lincoln could be used as a model for China because he resorted to force to maintain the unity of the United States. Unsurprisingly, U.S. newspaper columnists took him to task.------------------

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Veterans Mark Iwo Jima 60th Anniversary

By ERIC TALMADGE, The Associated Press, March 12, 2005

IWO JIMA, Japan - Aging American combat veterans and a handful of former Japanese soldiers gathered on a hillside over the landing beaches of the Battle of Iwo Jima on Saturday to mark the 60th anniversary of one of the bloodiest and most symbolic battles of World War II. About 50 U.S. vets, many dressed in their uniforms and helmets, gathered with hundreds of family members at a Japanese military base on the island.

A handful of Japanese survivors - only about a dozen are still alive - joined in the "honor reunion," during which they offered prayers and wreaths for the dead. After the ceremony, they split off to visit battlesites or to pose for photos in a landscape that 60 years ago became a symbol of the savage fighting of the Pacific War. "The battle of Iwo Jima stands out as an exceptionally hard-fought battle in world war history," said Kiyoshi Endo, who commanded Japanese troops on the northern part of the island.

During about a month of fighting that began Feb. 19, 1945, some 100,000 Americans battled more than 22,000 Japanese desperate to protect the first Japanese home island to be invaded. Nearly 7,000 Americans died. Fewer than 1,000 of the Japanese survived. Japan surrendered the following August, after one more bloody battle, on Okinawa, and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Iwo Jima produced one of the iconic images of American combat, when after the battle for Mount Suribachi six troops raised an American flag, a moment that for many Americans symbolizes the Pacific theater of World War II. The Pulitzer Prize-winning photo was later used as the inspiration for the Marine Corps War Memorial in Washington D.C.---------------

EU Firm on Ending China Arms Embargo, EU Commissioner Says

By Dan Eaton, Reuters, Saturday, March 12, 2005; 7:33 AM

JAKARTA (Reuters) - The European Union is determined to lift its 15-year ban on arms sales to China and does not expect any retaliation from Washington when it does so, a top official said on Saturday. EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner told Reuters in an interview a delegation of European officials due in Washington in the coming week would seek to ease fears an end to the ban could alter the balance of power in East Asia.

President Bush has voiced concerns that the end of the embargo could skew the military balance between China and Taiwan. Lawmakers in Washington have also threatened to curtail defense cooperation with Europe if it proceeds. "Of course there are some concerns on the American side, but I have never heard the word retaliation," Ferrero-Waldner said. "We feel that China is a partner today, an important partner, and we don't want to treat China like Zimbabwe or some other country," she said during a visit to Jakarta.------------------

Tsang takes over as Hong Kong’s acting chief

Financial Times, March 12 2005

Donald Tsang, Hong Kong’s chief secretary for administration, officially took over as acting chief executive of the territory following Tung Chee-hwa’s resignation as leader two days ago.

Mr Tsang, flanked by members of his cabinet and the executive council, said in a press conference at the Hong Kong central government’s offices that China’s state council had accepted Mr Tung’s resignation. The approval formally makes Mr Tsang the territory’s second leader since its return to Chinese rule in 1997. Mr Tsang will be acting chief executive until an election is held on July 10 for a permanent successor. He also said that after consultations between Elsie Leung, secretary of justice, and several mainland legal experts the decision was made that whoever won the July 10 election would only serve the remaining two years of Mr Tung’s tenure and not a full five-year term.

Mr Tsang’s comments at the weekend put to rest some of the many questions left unanswered by Mr Tung’s resignation on Thursday. However concerns remain in Hong Kong about how the succession process has been handled and the extent that Beijing’s assertion of its grip over the territory’s affairs may be jeopardising the “one country, two systems” model that governs its relations with the mainland.-----------------------

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Letter from Japan: Shared Korean stance: Lasting anger at Japan

Norimitsu Onishi, International Herald Tribune, March 10, 2005

TOKYO The Japanese government seemed genuinely shocked when South Korea's president, Roh Moo Hyun, said during an Independence Day speech March 1 that Tokyo should fully apologize for its militaristic past and colonization of the Korean Peninsula. "To further develop relations between the two of us, sincere efforts are needed on the part of the government and people of Japan," Roh said. "They need to find out the truth about their past, reflect on it and make a genuine apology, as well as reparations if need be."

What's more, speaking about the dozen or so Japanese citizens who were kidnapped by North Korea in the last three decades, South Korea's president added, "I fully understand the indignation of Japan stemming from its citizens being kidnapped. But at the same time I would like to ask Japan to reflect on itself as well. I hope that Japan understands the indignation of the Korean people who suffered pain countless times as forced draftees and 'comfort women' during the 36 years of its imperial rule." What was going on here? the Japanese seemed to say. They were used to hearing such words from China and, of course, North Korea. But weren't relations lovey-dovey with Seoul?

After all, middle-aged Japanese women have given their hearts to Yon-sama, the South Korean heartthrob; kimchi has become Japan's favorite condiment; and record numbers of Japanese tourists have been visiting South Korea. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi reacted by saying that Roh "must be thinking of his domestic situation as well as friendship with Japan." Other politicians and most media picked up on the line, saying that Roh was simply pandering to South Korean nationalism. What they chose not to mention is that Roh's comments simply reflected the opinions of most people on the Korean Peninsula.-------------------

Nuclear arms to lead Rice's Asian tour

By Guy Dinmore, The Financial Times, March 9, 2005

Nuclear proliferation and the war on terror are expected to top the agenda for Condoleezza Rice when she visits six Asian nations next week on her first tour of the region as US secretary of state. The state department announced on Tuesday that Ms Rice would visit India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Japan, Korea, and China from March 14-21. Her visit comes at a sensitive juncture in efforts to persuade North Korea to rejoin six-party talks on dismantling its nuclear programme. Senior US officials recently voiced frustration that China, the host and mediator, has not put more pressure on North Korea.

Pyongyang has refused to rejoin the negotiations that last took place nine months ago. Ms Rice would review diplomatic efforts to convene the next round, the state department said. Ning Fukui, China's special envoy to the negotiations, is due to meet Chris Hill, the head of the US delegation, and other US officials in Washington today.

While the US officials emphasise what they see as the overall positive trend in Sino-US relations, there is serious concern about China's military build-up and an anti-secession law, directed at Taiwan, that is currently passing through the National People's Congress. -------------------

How Long Hong Kong's Next Chief Will Serve Is Talk of the Town

By KEITH BRADSHER, The New York Times, March 10, 2005

HONG KONG, March 9 - With Tung Chee-hwa expected to resign as Hong Kong's chief executive on Thursday, the issue provoking the greatest discussion in this Chinese territory is how long his successor might serve - and whether Beijing officials will reinterpret local laws here in deciding.

The Basic Law, the miniconstitution that China drafted for Hong Kong before Britain handed over the colony in 1997, makes clear that Mr. Tung's immediate successor as acting chief executive would be Donald Tsang, the chief secretary and second-ranking official.Hong Kong's Electoral Committee, composed mostly of prominent citizens with close ties to Beijing, would meet this summer to choose a longer-term successor. The panel is expected to name Mr. Tsang, partly because of a dearth of other candidates with enough experience. The difficulty lies in whether Mr. Tsang would then serve a full five-year term, or just the two years remaining in Mr. Tung's current term, which runs until June 30, 2007.

The Basic Law seems to call for a five-year term. Democracy advocates here, many of them lawyers, favor a full term. But Beijing officials have publicly suggested that the next term might be only two years. Mr. Tsang's past as a British colonial civil servant is thought to have hurt him with Beijing. Many Hong Kong lawyers, including those close to Beijing, say the Basic Law is quite clear in saying that when the Electoral Committee chooses a chief executive for any reason, that person will serve a full five years. The law makes no provision for shorter terms or replacement terms. "If you look at the wording, it looks like a new, five-year term," said Daniel R. Fung, an ally of Beijing and former solicitor general here who is chairman of the Hong Kong Broadcasting Authority.----------------------

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

North Korea's stalling ploy

The Straits Times, Editorial, March 7, 2005

IT IS tempting to see North Korean leader Kim Jong Il as a clown. But that would be a mistake. Behind the hair style, the ridiculous 'Dear Leader' title and the comic - but frightening - personality cult, Mr Kim is a shrewd manipulator. Even as the world struggles to rein in North Korea's nuclear ambitions, Mr Kim has successfully redefined the agenda. Instead of talking about how to end Pyongyang's nuclear programme, the world instead is now frantically focused on simply how to get the North back to the bargaining table. Any substantive negotiations on the nuclear issue are on the backburner. After three rounds of six-party talks between the North and the United States, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia, the world is hopelessly back at square one. Meanwhile, Mr Kim has bought himself more time for his clandestine programme, and an opportunity to bargain for fresh concessions - possibly, a security guarantee from the US - before even the matter of nukes is brought up. Clever.

The fourth round of talks was supposed to have taken place last September. But it was always clear that Pyongyang would delay this to see who would win the November US presidential elections. Mr George W. Bush's victory meant that the North would continue to face a tough line. Hence Pyongyang's earlier announcement that it was pulling out of the six-party talks, its claim that it had nuclear weapons and then, last week, that it could again conduct missile tests are attempts to raise the ante.

North Korea's nuclear adventurism is a serious business, one made even more urgent by credible fears over possible proliferation. It is crucial that Pyongyang is quickly hauled back to the table and for substantive negotiations to resume. But this must be accomplished without any new concessions to Pyongyang, especially before the key nuclear issue is even on the agenda. Realistically, the only party able to twist Mr Kim's arm in this way is China, the one with the best leverage over the North. It is time Beijing acts to bring about this outcome. After all, the importance of doing this is clear to China, which is wary of the strategic implications for itself that an unambiguously nuclearised Korean peninsula would set in motion.

The stakes are too big for the world to let itself be manipulated by the self-styled Dear Leader.

China outlines anti-secession bill on Taiwan

Reuters, March 8 11:36 AM

China outlined an anti-secession bill on Tuesday that allows military force to head off any independence bid by Taiwan, legislation that has heightened tensions in the Taiwan Strait. While the bill has raised alarm bells in Taiwan, analysts said language in the draft emphasising the use of ”non-peaceful” means as a last resort appeared designed to leave Beijing alternatives to war such as blockades or sanctions.

Beijing has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since their split at the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949 and threatened to attack the democratic island of 23 million if it formally declares statehood. China would use non-peaceful means should “major incidents” entailing Taiwan’s secession from China occur, or should possibilities for a peaceful reunification be completely exhausted, Wang Zhaoguo, a vice-chairman of parliament, told the law-making body. “Using non-peaceful means to stop secession in defence of our sovereignty and territorial integrity would be our last resort when all our efforts for a peaceful reunification should prove futile,” Wang said, quoting from the bill.---------------------

Malnutrition in N Korea at “disturbing” levels

By Andrew Yeh, The Financial Times, March 8, 2005

Malnutrition levels in North Korea are at “disturbingly high” levels, despite mild signs of improvement in the nutritional status of young children, according to a survey conducted by two UN agencies. A random sample survey carried out by the United Nation's World Food Program and UNICEF, in collaboration with Pyongyang authorities, concluded that malnutrition rates of children had improved somewhat since 2002 but that the overall situation remained dire.

Some 37 per cent of children under the age of six suffered from chronic malnutrition last year, down from 42 per cent in 2002, the survey showed. North Korea, one of the world's most closed regimes, has faced widespread food shortages for decades and relies heavily on foreign assistance to feed its population. The UN estimates its food programme helps support some 6.5m North Koreans. “We can conclude that intervention works and now is not the time to back off from it,” said Richard Ragan, the UN food programme director in North Korea, on the importance of food aid to the isolated communist state. “The goal would be to, once the situation improves, have the government or private enterprises able to take over that function,” Mr Ragan, an American working in North Korea, told a press conference in Beijing.------------------

Monday, March 07, 2005

S Korea's finance minister quits

By Anna Fifield, The Financial Times, March 7, 2005

South Korea's finance minister finally bowed to public pressure and resigned on Monday, after he and his wife were accused of making more than US$6m from illegal property sales.

There had been increasingly fervent calls for Lee Hun-jai's resignation since details of the property transactions - coinciding with a government clampdown on real estate speculation - emerged at the end of last month. However, Mr Lee insisted he had done nothing wrong. “[Mr Lee] will take responsibility for all the doubt arising from this incident,” Kim Gyeong-ho, ministry spokesman, said on Monday morning. “However, on his part there was no intention of speculating in real estate.”

The scandal erupted on February 28 when ministers' asset declarations were published and it emerged the Lee family's assets had risen by Won6.6bn in seven years, largely due to the sale of rural land owned by Mr Lee's wife, Jin Jin-sook.-------------

Sony Names First Non-Japanese Chairman

By YURI KAGEYAMA, The Associated Press, Monday, March 7, 2005; Page A09

TOKYO - Sony Corp. named Howard Stringer as its chairman on Monday, a decision that marks the first time a foreigner will head a major Japanese electronics firm and comes as the company seeks to improve results at its faltering core electronics business. Stringer, vice chairman at Sony and chief executive of Sony Corp. of America, replaces Nobuyuki Idei, who has led the Tokyo-based company for a decade.

The management changes come at a time when fears are growing about Sony's ability to revive its electronics operations, which have been battered by cheaper competition from Asian rivals. The decision was made at a board meeting Monday, subject to shareholders' approval in June, Sony said in a statement. Kunitake Ando will also step down as Sony president and will be replaced by Ryoji Chubachi, an executive with experience in Sony's electronics and networking divisions.

"Sony has an unparalleled legacy of boldness, innovation and leadership around the world," Stringer said in a statement. "Together we look forward to joining our twin pillars of engineering and technology with our commanding presence in entertainment and content creation to deliver the most advanced devices and forms of entertainment to the consumer."-----------------

N. Koreans Fleeing Hard Lives Discover New Misery in China: Illegal Status Forces Many Underground

By Edward Cody, Washington Post Foreign Service, March 7, 2005; Page A10

TUMEN, China -- After five days of hiking in the biting cold, Lee Shanyu made her escape from the other bank of the Tumen River, where the tortured land of North Korea ends in a row of barren brown hills crusted with frost.

The promise of a bribe to North Korean border guards got her to the river's edge, she recalled, and a furtive midnight trot across the frozen water got her to this side of the border, where she said the police all seemed to be indoors trying to stay warm. And so in the middle of the night, pale, penniless and poorly clothed, another desperate North Korean had washed up in China. I decided to take a chance," Lee, 25, said to explain her risky flight across the border Feb. 20. "We have to do something," she added in an interview, fighting back tears as she recalled the mother she left behind. "We can't make a living in North Korea."

Every day, according to aid workers, a handful of North Koreans make the same decision, driven by hunger, want and oppression. The lucky ones find their way to South Korea, a few by sneaking into embassies in Beijing, some by traveling to neighboring countries to get help. Others get picked up by Chinese police and sent back. But many -- aid workers estimate the total is more than 200,000 -- end up working underground in China, trapped by their illegal status in menial labor, prostitution, concubinage or petty crime.----------------------------

China Doubts U.S. Data on North Korean Nuclear Work

By JOSEPH KAHN, The New York Times, March 7, 2005

BEIJING, March 6 - The Chinese foreign minister, Li Zhaoxing, expressed doubt on Sunday about the quality of American intelligence on North Korea's nuclear program and said the United States would have to talk to North Korea one-on-one to resolve the standoff.

Mr. Li's assessment, made at an extended news conference during China's annual legislative meeting, amounted to a double slap at the United States. Washington has repeatedly sounded the alarm about North Korea's nuclear efforts and has pressed China, North Korea's only significant ally, to be more active in seeking seek a solution. President Bush last month sent a high-level envoy to Beijing to present fresh intelligence data that the Bush administration contends shows that North Korea's nuclear program is more advanced than previously thought and that it has been selling nuclear materials around the world.----------------------

Sunday, March 06, 2005

China Tough on Taiwan But Plays Down Threat to World

By Lindsay Beck, Reuters, March 6, 2005; 2:13 AM

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing struck a hawkish tone on Taiwan on Sunday but sought to calm jittery nerves over his country's growing global clout, saying China was not a threat to anyone.

Disputes with the United States and Japan should be resolved through dialogue, Li said but made clear China would brook no interference in its drive to reunite with Taiwan, the self-governing island it claims as its own. Japan and China are at odds over everything from territorial claims to lingering wartime resentment, and Beijing's human rights record and weapons proliferation are perennial issues with Washington. But last month both Japan and the United States listed security in the Taiwan Strait as a common concern.----------------------

South Korea registers the end of male superiority

By Anna Fifield, The Financial Times, March 5, 2005

In deeply Confucian Korea, the man has been the undisputed headof the family for 600 years. But not for much longer, at least not legally.

Korea is undergoing a social revolution through the looming abolition of hoju-je, the family register system that places the man (hoju) at the head of the family and defines everyone else in relation to him. The National Assembly this week approved the scrapping of the anachronistic system, which dates back to the Chosun dynasty that began in 1392 and which women's rights groups say has perpetuated the "son- first" mentality of Korean society ever since."This system fundamentally dismantled the concept of equality - it put women under the guardianship of men," says Shin Hei-soo, Korean representative on the United Nations Committee for Ending Discrimination against Women and one of the key proponents of abolishing the system, which she called the "final fortress of the patriarchy".-------------------------

Saturday, March 05, 2005

N Korea postpones annual parliament session

By Song Jung-a, Financial Times, March 4, 2005

North Korea on Friday postponed its annual parliamentary session due to start next week, amid growing tension over its nuclear weapons development programme. The Communist state gave no reason for the abrupt postponement of the Supreme People's Assembly session, with Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency only saying the decision was made “at the requests made by deputies to the SPA in all domains of the socialist construction.”

The Supreme People's Assembly is North Korea's top legislative body, which convenes to approve budgets and rubber-stamp policies made by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. In 2003, it ratified a government decision to increase its “nuclear deterrent force.”South Korea's unification ministry said it was trying to find a reason for the postponement, but ruled out a possibility that it was due to any political problems. But the unprecedented move puzzled political watchers, as it came after North Korea declared it had nuclear weapons and threatened to resume missile tests.------------

China plays down Taiwan war threat

By Mure Dickie and Richard McGregor, The Financial Times, March 4, 2005

BEIJING, Saturday, March 5 - Hu Jintao, China's Communist Party chief, took a militant stance on Friday against what he called "secessionist forces" in Taiwan, but also cited "new and positive factors" that could reduce cross-strait tensions.

His comments came as China's national legislature prepared to consider a measure that would likely mandate a military response if Taiwan, which is governed independently, formally seceded from mainland China. The measure is the culmination of a show of resolve by Mr. Hu after he became China's military leader late last year. Delivering the main opening address to the legislature, called the National People's Congress, on Saturday morning, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao set an economic growth target of 8 percent, down from the 9.5 percent growth recorded in 2004. He also vowed to eliminate the main tax imposed on China's peasantry for the first time in two millenniums.

The government also announced that it would raise spending on China's rapidly modernizing military by 12.6 percent in 2005, continuing a long streak of double-digit increases in outlays for military personnel and arms.-------------------

Friday, March 04, 2005

Silent Partners: They never meet, but a de facto alliance has formed between the leaders of Japan and Taiwan

BY ANTHONY SPAETH, From the Mar. 07, 2005 issue of TIME Asia Magazine

In dealing with the delicate issue of Taiwan, most governments follow the American model. They vow at regular intervals that they recognize only One China—the People's Republic—but then send diplomatic personnel to Taipei (under commercial cover), trade with the Un-China, and maintain discreet official contact. The much heavier burden of maintaining peace in the Taiwan Strait—making sure China doesn't try to take Taiwan by force, or Taipei doesn't provoke Beijing into trying—is shouldered by Washington alone.

Now Japan is lending the U.S. support on that potential battle line. Two weeks ago, Washington and Tokyo issued a joint communiqué that specifically cites peace in the Taiwan Strait as a common objective of the two allies. That came just weeks before China's National People's Congress is expected to enact an anti-secession law that may require the mainland to declare war if Taiwan declares independence, and days before U.S. President George W. Bush went to Europe and tried to dissuade the E.U. from lifting its 16-year embargo on selling arms to China—arms that would be most useful for invading Taiwan. As a result, the cross-strait chessboard has become more like a game of go: more subtle and unpredictable. "I do think it was a surprise," says Kenneth Lieberthal, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington and former senior director for Asia at the National Security Council. "If you had asked before, most specialists would have said, 'the Japanese don't do that.'" ---------------------------------

Upsetting Asia's Delicate Balance: Europe's plan to lift the China arms embargo has the U.S. worried

BY MICHAEL ELLIOTT, From the Mar. 07, 2005 issue of TIME Asia Magazine

The irony was delicious. Who would ever have thought that the principal source of disagreement between U.S. President George W. Bush and his European hosts last week would have been a European desire to sell arms and an American determination to stop them from doing so? Yet so it proved. Not even a shared dinner of lobster risotto and truffle sauce could get Bush and his French counterpart Jacques Chirac (who in this case speaks for Europe old and new) to agree on the European Union's plan to lift its embargo on supplying defense technology to China, imposed after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. Bush wants the embargo to stay, lest European goods one day be used against U.S. forces, who are pledged to defend Taiwan from an unprovoked attack by China. Chirac, by contrast, said that the embargo "is no longer justified and has to be lifted."

The conventional wisdom in Europe is that the ban (which has never been watertight) will be ended this year. Conceivably, though, threats of retaliation from the U.S. Congress might convince the E.U. to back down—Sen. Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the Financial Times recently that he would support a ban on the export of sensitive American technology to Europe if there were a chance it would end up in Chinese hands. That will be enough to persuade some European firms with substantial American business—such as BAE Systems, the U.K's largest defense company—to stay out of the China game. But for many other European firms, the lure of the China market will be too strong to resist and they will find specious justifications for their sales. (The most specious was offered by the French Defense Minister, who seems to have convinced herself that European exports will stop China's development of its own capability in high-tech systems.) Though the E.U. is working on a code of conduct that will—it is said—prevent the export of anything really nasty, there's little point in lifting the ban unless everyone expects that trade between the E.U. and China will thereby grow.-------------------