You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘North Korea’ tag.

Rice Rebukes Bush Envoy Who Criticized Policy on North Korea – Jay Lefkowitz, President Bush’s special envoy on North Korean human rights said the current Bush Admin policy will not solve the nuclear issue in North Korea before Bush leaves office. Well, he is right, that is obvious to someone of the meanest intelligences.

Roadblocks on the Great Asian Highway – Interesting article about overcoming infrastructural barriers between Thailand, Laos, and China to create more efficient trade; and some immediate negative externalities for the local Laotian people.

Corruption-fighting Vietnamese granny gets award – Transparency International awards Vietnamese grandma for fighting the good fight for 25 years against death threats from local government officials. This woman is 150 cm (4’11” inch) tall and 40 kilograms (88 lbs) and has more “balls” than 99% of the politicians in Washington D.C., unfortunately for us Americans.

China closes 44,000 pornographic websites in 2007 – The Chinese government is not fond of “adult entertainment”. This is part of the increasingly common crackdown on various facets of the sex industry in China. I’m sure shutting down 44,000 websites has kept the thought police quite busy.

Science with Africa: Accelerating Science and Technology in Africa – Information on a conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 3 to 7 March. The themes of the conference will be science and innovation policy, science themes and innovation and will consist of plenary sessions and workshops.

Africa: ‘U.S. Recession a Threat to Third World Exports’ – There has been a recession fear going through North America, Europe, and East Asia lately but any economic downturn for the United States will also significantly effect some of the world’s poorest nations, which are already on the margin. This will not just hurt trade but also aid revenues.


Japan pledges to help China curb pollution – A lot of confidence building came out of this meet, which was good. I lived in Shanghai and I can tell you about the throat and lung infections from the pollution, all the days that were so dark you could not see the sun, etc. China needs all the help it can get with this. It is a beautifully diverse country and although I think they “have to” go through this industrialization, just as everyone else has, itis good they are taking steps to limited the environmental degradation. For more information on other points discussed check here. On a side note, sometimes people underestimate the power of goodwill programs (i.e. exchange students) to change public perception, but I do not. 3,000 students can saw a lot of thinking at home when they get back.

Taiwan presidential candidate cleared on graft – Told ya so, here.

Shuffled off to history, veneration of Ro Moo Hyun will follow – French plays the requiem for the Roh Administration in South Korea. I’m sorry but I think he overplayed Roh’s statesmanship here, in large part, due to his dislike of the Bush Administration. I’m not a fan of George W. either, but even he was not stupid enough to try military action against a potentially nuclear armed N.Korea when there was so little intelligence and N.Korea could potentially nuke Seoul and Tokyo; especially with so many American troops exposed. Sorry, Mr. French; don’t buy it. It seems the S.Korean people did not either, as they elected the political opposite of Roh.

Nigeria’s graft catcher is sent for training – This is not good; just when I was congratulating Nigeria on its anti-corruption crackdown. Although it is likely Nuhu Ribadu did not go out of his way to “bite the hand that feeds”; any crackdown on corruption is better than none at all. The people know this and that is why he has popular public support. $380 billion in graft is nothing to sneeze at.

Tokyo opposes Taiwan’s UN referendum: Fukuda – This is not shocking coming from a Fukuda Administration. He appears focused on making good relations with America and China; both oppose the referendum. Although I recognize this as the most pragmatic position for all involved I have moral issues with it. I do not understand why Britain and Canada can allow or would allow significant segments of their country to vote for independence and Taiwan, a self governing democracy, can not democratically decide what it wants to do. It makes no difference to me if they voted for independence or voted to seek political unification with China immediately. What matters is they have no choice and countries that pride themselves on democracy and human rights are doing everything they can to smoother their right of self determination.

Update: It seems the Fukada Admin is sneaky. He said exactly what China wanted to hear in relation to Taiwan and then a couple of days later revised clarified his governments position:

Japan has recently explained that it “does not oppose” the plan to hold a referendum on its bid for a seat in the UN under the name Taiwan, but hopes the referendum will not raise tension in the Taiwan Strait, a senior Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said yesterday.

1,968 officials punished for malpractice in local reshuffle – I do not mean to sound pessimistic, but I think these officials were the ones without adequate guanxi.  They were not being punished because they were especially corrupt. It is funny that China was not always so corrupt, in fact most dynasties in ancient China started off strongly Confucianist and prided themselves on the virtue of officials. The corruption usually came toward the end of the dynasty; could it be the CCP is at the end of its life?

US: China not manipulating currency – WOW! This is going to piss off a lot of Republicans and some Democrats on the Hill, but it is the truth.  Most people don’t want to hear the truth though, they want to hear what they want to hear.

China raises interest rates for 6th time this year – China is still fighting the inflation beast. I blogged about this a few times, but the most interesting article on it was here. This one is somewhat ominous though, but I have not seen a serious counterargument.

U.N. death penalty moratorium snubbed – As I said before, the death penalty is rarely used in Japan and when it is; it is generally deserved. Most Japanese believe in the death penalty and no Euro promoted whining from the UN is going to change that.  I do not believe Japan has to change its culture to make the UN happy.  America certainly does not.  I love Hatoyama’s comments on death penalty efficiency, that is very Japanese.

Cop kills self at Tokyo Stn koban – In America we have cop killers. In Japan cops just kill themselves, likely out of boredom.

S. Korean president-elect indicates tougher stance on North – Lee has already started criticizing N.Korea. I’m sure Japan and America are happy, but not so sure about China.  This is a big change of policy for S.Korea, as there has been a liberal government since democracy started; with a policy of engagement (which became the Sunshine Policy).  Well he has a mandate, winning almost 50% of the vote (having ran against 12 opponents).  It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

Apartment supply-demand gap still problematic for expats – The fact they are have a shortage is a good sign, as it hints to a boom of ex-pats moving to the nation to work for long periods.

Vietnam, Japan strengthen technology ties – I was somewhat surprised to here that Vietnam is already at the point of considering joint technology research parks. Let alone teaming up with companies like Toshiba, Mitsui and Sharp. The spillover effect of such initiatives is always a positive thing, but especially for nations like Vietnam. Due to economy of scale, first mover advantage, and infrastructure issues they will have a difficult time competing directly with China in low end manufacturing. They need niche markets, and if they have the educational base to do R&D in specific industries that is a great move.

East Africa: Starbucks Plans Sh64m Coffee Centres in Region

West Africa: Meeting Education Targets – Access Versus Quality – I understand the issues that the author cites, but I think in this type of situation, it helps to have 80% of people to read at a basic level than 20% to read very well and 60% to be illiterate. They can always focus on improving teacher quality, classrooms, books, etc. The most important thing is to get the children in the class and to have them learn something more than what they would have known if they were out working a field.

Academic says pan-blues will trounce DPP in poll –  I have never doubted this to be the case, but this has happened before and a DPP candidate has still won the presidency, so I’m keeping my eyes on that, to my knowledge, Ma is leading in the polls by about 10 points, this was a few months ago.  I’m looking for recent more polling data.

South Africa: Mbeki Booed By Hostile Polokwane Delegates – WOW!  Actually, I see this as healthy, in a young democracy there should be lively debate and disagreement. Aslong as it conforms to the rule of law I have no issues with it.

Hill: North Korea refused nuclear declarationI told you so…Kim Jong Il is never going to give up his only ace card.  There is no benefit for him to do so as long as he can bribe and threaten his way to economic concessions.

China, Japan need more dialogue – A very interesting behind closed doors debate between Japanese and Chinese journalist.   That is if you can call the Chinese people “journalist” when there is no freedom of the press in China.  It broke down around the usual nationalist chest beating as the Chinese attack the Japanese and the Japanese seem oblivious to why.  There were some more instructive issues that came up though, such as the quote below, which clearly shows the success of the Communist government to promote neo-Confucianism as propaganda for people to remain loyal to the party.  It also shows how far the Japanese have moved away from these Confucian ideas in the past 60 years. Interesting indeed.

One Japanese member said: “The media’s basic role is to report the facts and serve the public’s right to know the facts. The Chinese media are controlled too tightly by political judgments, and fail to convey what readers and viewers should know. The media should be liberalized.”

In response, a Chinese member said: “What is the definition of liberalization? There is no absolute liberty. Don’t the Japanese media have taboos about the Imperial family? What we consider first is the stability of society. Confusion caused by the media can affect people’s lives adversely.”

To save, South Koreans use credit cards – Koreans are learning about the convenience and dangers of credit cards.  I wish the article had some statistic on the average debt load of the Korean household as compared to American, or the percentage of defaults as compared to Americans.  I would be my money, that they handle their credit much better, despite the number of cards, and this is especially true of married couples.  I can not imagine the average S.Korean woman (who will be doing most bill paying) spending as recklessly as an American.

Hollywood officials say China has started banning American movies – Seems the rumors were true and do not just apply to Will Smith movies. 🙂   This is not just about the international property rights case at the WTO.  China has been perturbed about a few things, including American support for Taiwan and praise of the Dalia Lama.

CHINA: China rejects demand on communique – Just a brief update on Chinese denial.

Inter-Korean rail service resumes after five decades – More “Sunshine Policy” news.

Vietcombank says foreign buying capped to benefit local investors – Big bank about to go public.

Nigeria: President’s Visit Represents Start of New Relationship – Nigeria’s president visits the “George Dubya” in Washington.  The topics on the table are the Nigerian Delta (read: Oil), African peace keeping, and continued political stability.

No White Hair in the Chinese Leadership – This is funny, I was just talking about this to my wife last night. LOL

China Media Less Aggressive in Foreign Coverage

Why China cracked down on my nonprofit – This is an excellent, first hand look into freedom of speech issues and also the level of xenophobia and paranoia on the mainland. If you are so inclined to learn more about Mr Young and his organization, visit China Development Brief.

Uganda: Museveni to Meet Kabila Over LRA Rebels – Since I’m pretty much convinced that the key to African development lies in Nigeria, Ethiopia, Congo, South Africa, and Kenya I watch the DR Congo pretty closely. The last 10 years have been a nightmare, but it is encouraging to see the leader of a small stable country, like Uganda, involved. It could be for the Great Lakes Region what Singapore was for SE Asia. I am also happy to see the U.S. is getting involved in the region, more than just installing a strong man to control things.

Hu pressed Kim Jong Il on abductions / Beijing envoy pushed issue on Pyongyang visit – I guess this was part of the “trade talks” between China and Japan. Japan promised more investment if China “put the screws” to Kim over the Japanese abduction. This is a big issue with the Japanese public. Japanese people are quite nice, but somewhat uneasy with foreigners in Japan, let alone being kidnapped by Koreans, the same Koreans who have routinely threatened to nuke Japan and make it burn in a “sea of nuclear fire”. The funny thing is that N.Korea and Japan were making progress on the issue a few years ago and it was JAPAN who dropped the ball on it.

Kim Jong-il receives personal letter from Bush – What happened to all that optimism from the Bush Administration a week ago? Update

Large Sino-French deals – It seems France wanting to end the arms embargo against China is part of larger economic trade negotiations to the tune of $17.4 billion.

Uganda: President Museveni Meets Rice in Ethiopia – Leaders of Africa’s Great Lakes Region speak with Sec. Rice about greater security, especially in regard to rebel groups and terrorists.

The Manchurian Incident, the League of Nations and the Origins of the Pacific War. What the Geneva archives reveal – An interesting re-reading of history concerning the “Manchurian Incident”.

China, Japan hold high-level economic dialogueChina has been quite busy “dialogging” lately. Their goals in the talks seem to center around 4 points: “According to Zeng, four major problems exist in Sino-Japanese economic ties: a slowdown in the growth rate of bilateral trade, unsatisfactory business environment, obstacles in technological cooperation and fluctuations of Japanese investment in China...Japan is China’s third largest trade partner and the second largest source of foreign direct investment. China is Japan’s largest trade partner and one of Japan’s fastest growing export markets.” The International Herald Tribune also did an article on this.

China to provide free textbooks to all rural students in compulsory education – China is enacting a plan to create 9 years of compulsory education for all 150 million rural students.

Chinese to undergo compulsory HIV testing – Although China has relaxed laws concerning HIV positive foreigners entering the country on visits; they are increasing screening for Chinese citizens returning to China after a year or more abroad. When I was in China in 1999, they already had a law that made it compulsory for foreign nationals to undergo HIV testing if they wanted to stay in China for more than a year. I think the now rule is a good thing, but I fear that publicly known HIV status could lead to increased discrimination against the carrier.

Taiwan: Law change to aid migrant spouses – This law is important because Taiwan is one of the many regions of Asia with a female shortage. Due to this, Taiwan has seen a dramatic increase in the number of foreign brides, mostly Southeast Asian and Mainland Chinese women. There needed to be more regulation on this front, and the resulting laws seem fair.

U.S. to set 3 more tasks for N. Korea – Well, I see America is still dreaming. North Korea will never show its complete hand, that is not in the leaders interests, even if it is in the people’s. Even the reporter who wrote this, Takashi Sakamoto, does not believe North Korea will do this, so they will remain on America’s “Boogeyman” list for the foreseeable future. Then again, maybe that is what the Bush Administration wants. So much for America’s optimism.

Tokyo blows a chance at leadership

China Cracking Down on Illegal Currency Conversion – Even when I lived in China we would not exchange currency at the banks. I found out quite fast from the Japanese to exchange money at some mom and pop mafia front near Fudan University, that is when I was introduced to the black market to get around currency controls. This suited me fine as they gave a much better rate.

Japanese Shift Cash Out of U.S. Investments – More ” beikoku banare” (Quitting America)…this is significant as Japan holds the second highest number of dollar reserves, next to China. This will only serve to further weaken the dollar, which will put more pressure on China! Yes, not very intuitive. In the meantime, more money flows into Asian portfolios and away from America and the EU.

Homelessness in Taiwan – Michael Turton has an interesting post on Homelessness in Taiwan.