NAPSNet Daily Report 12 May, 2010
Contents in this Issue:
- I. NAPSNet
- DPRK Arms Trade
- Sino-DPRK Economic Relations
- DPRK Food Security
- Inter-Korea Relations
- Inter-Korean Economic Relations
- DPRK Nuclear Energy
- US on ROK Naval Ship Sinking
- ROK-US Military Cooperation
- ROK Politics
- USFJ Base Relocation
- Sino-Japan Relations
- Sino-US Relations
- Sino-Pakistan Nuclear Cooperation
- Sino-India Relations
- PRC Human Rights
- PRC Tibet Issue
- Cross-Strait Relations
1. DPRK Arms Trade
Agence France Presse (“ISRAEL SAYS N.KOREA SHIPPING WMDS TO SYRIA”, 2010/05/11) reported that Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Tuesday accused nuclear power DPRK of supplying Syria with weapons of mass destruction. Lieberman’s office quoted him as telling Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama at a meeting in Tokyo that such activity threatened to destabilize east Asia as well as the Middle East. “The cooperation between Syria and North Korea is not focused on economic development and growth but rather on weapons of mass destruction” Lieberman said. In evidence he cited the December 2009 seizure at Bangkok airport of an illicit DPRK arms shipment which US intelligence said was bound for an unnamed Middle East country.
Associated Press (Malcolm Foster, “ISRAEL FM: IRAN, SYRIA, NKOREA NEW ‘AXIS OF EVIL'”, Tokyo, 2010/04/12) reported that Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday declared the DPRK, Syria and Iran the new “axis of evil” and pose the biggest threat to world security because they are building and spreading weapons of mass destruction . “We saw this kind of cooperation only two or maybe three months ago with the North Korean plane in Bangkok with huge numbers of different weapons with the intention to smuggle these weapons to Hamas and Hezbollah,” Lieberman said without elaborating.
British Broadcasting System (“BURMA SAID BUYING ARMS FROM CHINA, NORTH KOREA”, 2010/05/11) reported that intelligence sources suggest ongoing military ties with the PRC and DPRK are helping the Burmese generals’ to achieve their military ambitions, including that of becoming a nuclear power. Intelligence sources said top junta generals have held late- night meetings in Naypyidaw in the last two months, discussing military modernization, foreign relations, tension with ethnic groups and suppressing dissidents in urban areas. They said the junta bought weapons from the PRC and the DPRK including mid-range missiles and rocket launchers in April. Equipment necessary to build a nuclear capability was reportedly among imported military supplies from the DPRK.
2. Sino-DPRK Economic Relations
Institute for Far Eastern Studies (“DPRK-PRC SUMMIT AND THE OUTLOOK FOR BILATERAL ECONOMIC COOPERATION “, 2010/05/11) reported that as DPRK leader Kim Jong Il spent four nights and five days in the PRC, meeting with President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jaibao, and other top PRC leaders, it appears that the issue of bilateral economic cooperation was high on the agenda, and was discussed in depth. ‘Strengthening economic and trade cooperation’ was one of the five proposals for bolstering PRC-DPRK relations made by Hu Jintao during the May 5 summit meeting with Kim Jong Il. According to China Daily, the five suggestions made by Hu Jintao are as follows: 1) To maintain high-level contacts. 2) To reinforce strategic coordination. 3) To deepen economic and trade cooperation. 4) To increase personnel exchanges. 5) To strengthen coordination in international and regional affairs to better serve regional peace and stability.
3. DPRK Food Security
Bernama (“CURRENT NORTH KOREA FOOD SHORTAGE IS SERIOUS AS IN MID-90S'”, 2010/05/11) reported that the current food shortage in the DPRK is as serious as the food crisis that hit the nation in the mid-1990s, the Yonhap reported Tuesday citing local media. Quoting one of its correspondents in Jilin Province in the PRC, Free North Korea Radio is reporting that DPRK nationals are fearful of death by starvation. According to the correspondent, a DPRK national who crossed the DPRK-PRC border for food said that many will starve to death if the PRC doesn’t provide the food aid that is thought to have been sought by DPRK leader Kim Jong-il during his latest visit to Beijing.
4. Inter-Korea Relations
Reuters (“NO FREE WORLD CUP TV FOR NORTH KOREA FROM SOUTH-REPORT”, 2010/05/11) reported that the DPRK will not get free television coverage of the World Cup soccer finals in June from the ROK in the wake of recent “provocative” actions, a news report from the ROK said on Tuesday. “In view of its recent provocative postures against the South, it is the government’s position that the North must pay an adequate price negotiated under internationally accepted norms,” the JoongAng Ilbo daily quoted a government official as saying. “Broadcast signals are subject to state authorisation for transmission (to the North),” the official said, indicating the government would reject an application from the ROK’s official broadcaster for the World Cup finals, SBS, to transmit there.
Donga Ilbo (“UNIFICATION TEXTS LIST N. KOREAN PROVOCATIONS”, 2010/05/11) reported that DPRK provocations and terrorist attacks against the ROK have been included in the ROK`s unification education materials for the first time. The Korea Institute for National Unification under the ministry introduced a clause on “inter-Korean relations vis-a-vis conflict and tension” in Chapter 4.2 titled “The Development of Inter-Korean Relations” in this year`s edition of the unification educational material, “Understanding of the Unification Issue.” The institute described 10 of the DPRK’s major provocations with the clause, “The trigger behind inter-Korean conflict has been mostly led by the North’s offensive strategy against the South along with the Korean War in 1950.”
Chosun Ilbo (“ACTIVISTS TO FLOAT MORE PROPAGANDA BALLOONS TO N.KOREA”, 2010/05/11) reported that activists said they will send 500,000 propaganda leaflets to the DPRK by helium balloon. They will do so on five occasions from May 13 until June 7 near Baeknyeong Island, where the ROK Navy corvette Cheonan sank on March 26. Choi Sung-yong, the head of Family Assembly Abducted to North Korea, said, “Sending the leaflets from the site where the Cheonan sank is an expression of protest against Kim Jong-il, who ordered the attack, and the North Korean military.” The leaflets will be put into plastic bags containing US$1 bills, portable radios and CDs of video clips of public executions in the DPRK, tied to balloons and floated to the DPRK. The two organizations vowed to continue the campaign until the DPRK apologizes for the sinking.
5. Inter-Korean Economic Relations
JoongAng Ilbo (“NORTH WON’T GET CUP TRAVEL EXPENSES “, 2010/05/11) reported that after demanding a free feed of the ROK’s broadcasts of the 2010 FIFA World Cup matches, the DPRK wants even more: it expects the ROK to cover traveling expenses for DPRK journalists heading to South Africa for the matches, and other production costs. An official at the Unification Ministry said yesterday the DPRK requested such financial support during its negotiations with SBS, the ROK broadcaster of the June World Cup. “North Korea was having difficulty securing enough money to purchase necessary equipment for on-site reporting and video editing,” one Seoul official said. “So they asked us for help.”
6. DPRK Nuclear Energy
Associated Press (Kwang-tae Kim, “NKOREA CLAIMS TO ACHIEVE ELUSIVE NUCLEAR FUSION”, Seoul, 2010/05/12) reported that the DPRK claimed Wednesday that its scientists succeeded in creating a nuclear fusion reaction. DPRK scientists “solved a great many scientific and technological problems entirely by their own efforts … thus succeeding in nuclear fusion reaction at last,” the Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in a report carried Wednesday. “Nuclear fusion reaction is not something that can be done so simple. It’s very difficult,” said Hyeon Park, a physics professor at Postech, a top science and technology university in the ROK. Park said the DPRK may have succeeded in making a plasma device and produced plasma, a hot cloud of supercharged particles — only one preliminary step toward achieving fusion. He said outside experts need to know the scale of the experiment and method of generating plasma to assess the details of the DPRK’s claim.
7. US on ROK Naval Ship Sinking
Agence France Presse (“US SAYS WORLD WATCHING N.KOREA ON SINKING”, 2010/05/11) reported that a senior US official said key nations were united in watching the DPRK as an investigation proceeds on whether it was involved in the sinking of a ROK ship. Speaking at the Brookings Institution, US Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg said the United States was “engaged in an intensive discussion” with all key players about how to proceed over the sinking of the Cheonan. “We very much hope that during the recent visit of Kim Jong-Il to China that they had an opportunity to share with him their concerns about North Korea’s behavior and to make clear that we are watching very closely to see how events unfold in connection with the Cheonan,” Steinberg said.
JoongAng Ilbo (“U.S. THINKS NORTH SUNK CHEONAN, SOURCES SAY”, 2010/05/11) reported that the U.S. government has concluded that the DPRK sank the ROK warship Cheonan and has begun discussing possible measures to be taken in response, according to a source. Another diplomatic source said the Obama administration is also preparing a joint U.S.-ROK statement condemning the DPRK action and strengthening the two countries’ military alliance. The statement, the source added, would be issued after the findings of the Cheonan probe are announced sometime next week. “About a dozen officials handling East Asia and the Korean Peninsula at the State Department, the Defense Department and the Central Intelligence Agency held a closed-door meeting to talk about responses to the Cheonan sinking for the first time,” the source said. “They discussed measures to take in case North Korea attacked the ship, and they didn’t bring up any other possibility [that some other cause may have been responsible].”
8. ROK-US Military Cooperation
Arirang News (“WASHINGTON SEES NO LINK BETWEEN CHEONAN DISASTER AND WARTIME COMMAND TRANSFER”, 2010/05/11) reported that the US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg says Washington does not link the ROK naval disaster of Cheonan to the scheduled wartime operational control transfer from the US to South Korea in 2012. Speaking at the Brookings Institution in Washington, Steinberg said long discussions on the control transfer have been ongoing and he didn’t think the outcome of the Cheonan investigation and DPRK’s possible involvement would affect the command relationship on the Korean peninsula.
Korea Times (“SEOUL SEEKS DOCUMENTATION OF US TROOP STRENGTH IN KOREA”, 2010/05/11) reported that the presence of 28,500-strong U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula is expected to be stipulated in “defense guidelines” to be drawn up by Seoul and Washington in coming months, a government official said. “Despite repeated explanations by both governments, speculation continues about a possible drawdown of U.S. troops in Korea following the planned transition of wartime control,” a senior defense ministry official said. “To dispel such a misunderstanding and reaffirm the solid ROK-U.S. alliance, we’re considering stipulating the presence of the current-level U.S. troops in Korea in a diplomatic and defense document,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
9. ROK Politics
Yonhap News (“TWO N. KOREAN DEFECTORS TO RUN IN LOCAL ELECTIONS”, 2010/05/11) reported that the minor opposition Liberty Forward Party (LFP) has nominated two DPRK defectors as candidates for its proportional representation seats in Seoul in the June 2 local elections, party officials said Tuesday. It is the first time that a major political party has nominated a defector from the DPRK as an election candidate. “Although the number of North Korean defectors living in the South has reached about 20,000, they still suffer hardships in settling in our society,” said Rep. Park Sun-young, spokeswoman for the party. “We gave the candidates the No. 1 spot so that North Korean defectors can stand on their own feet politically and get out of their passive position.”
10. USFJ Base Relocation
Stars and Stripes (“HUNDREDS MARCH IN SUPPORT OF EXISTING FUTENMA AGREEMENT “, 2010/05/11) reported that carrying signs that read “Thank you Marines” and “Japan needs U.S.,” hundreds of demonstrators gathered Tuesday to show support for a 2006 U.S.-Japan realignment agreement to close Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on Okinawa and move its operations to a rural part of the prefecture. The group marched to the Japan Diet building to submit a resolution calling for the Japanese government to commit to moving Marine air operations to Camp Schwab on Okinawa’s rural northeast coast. It also called for Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s resignation.
Yomiuri Shimbun (“TOKUNOSHIMA LANDING STRIP TOO NARROW, U.S. SAYS”, 2010/05/11) reported that the United States has raised doubts over the width of the landing strip at Tokunoshima Airport, a site that is part of the Japanese government’s relocation plan for some functions of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station, sources said Tuesday. The government had planned to use the airport on Tokunoshima island, Kagoshima Prefecture, to host part of Futenma’s helicopter unit, or to move training exercises there from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa Prefecture. However, the United States has been reluctant to accept the plan, saying it would be inconvenient for military operations because the proposed site is about 200 kilometers from Okinawa Prefecture. As Washington is now raising technical issues in addition to the distance problem, the relocation plan involving Tokunoshima seems to be facing even higher hurdles.
Kyodo News (“GOV’T DRAFT STATES NAGO AS U.S. BASE RELOCATION SITE AS IN 2006 DEAL”, 2010/05/11) reported that in a draft relocation plan obtained by Kyodo News on Tuesday, the government of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama specifies the Henoko district in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, as a relocation site for the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futemma Air Station in the same prefecture, in line with an existing deal signed by Tokyo and Washington in 2006. In an apparent bid to highlight the government’s efforts to review the deal in which the two countries agreed to reclaim land in Henoko, the draft proposes examining the feasibility of building a pile-supported runway in shallow waters instead and stipulates that the government will give “utmost consideration” to local life and the environment in its construction.
Yomiuri Shimbun (“MINISTERS SAY MISSING FUTENMA DEADLINE OK”, 2010/05/11) reported that a number of Cabinet members said Tuesday that Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama did not have to meet his self-imposed May 31 deadline for resolving the Futenma Air Station relocation issue. “[Hatoyama] does not have to stick to the deadline. It will be better [for him] to seek a true solution [to the problem] rather than reach a terrible conclusion at the end of May,” Mizuho Fukushima, state minister in charge of consumer affairs, said during a press conference following a Cabinet meeting.
11. Sino-Japan Relations
Kyodo News (“CHINESE ENVOY DISPLEASED WITH MONITORING OF CHINESE NAVY BY JAPAN”, 2010/05/11) reported that PRC Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua expressed strong displeasure on Tuesday with the recent monitoring of a PRC navy fleet by Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force in the sea off the Japanese coast. “While there are various neighboring countries around China, only the Japanese Self-Defense Force vessels hounded (the Chinese ships) from the beginning,” the ambassador said at a lecture hosted by Kyodo News in Tokyo.
12. Sino-US Relations
Yonhap News (“SENIOR U.S., CHINA OFFICIALS DISCUSS N. KOREA, BILATERAL ISSUES”, 2010/05/11) reported that Senior U.S. diplomat for Asia Kurt Campbell met with PRC Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai and other PRC officials in Beijing on Tuesday and discussed bilateral and regional issues including the DPRK , U.S. and PRC officials said. Campbell, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, talked with PRC officials about the U.S.- PRC Strategic and Economic Dialogue, a ministerial meeting slated for May 24 and 25 in Beijing, the Korean Peninsula and Southeast Asian affairs, U.S. officials said. Sung Kim, U.S. special envoy to the six-party talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear programs, has been in Beijing since Monday, diplomatic sources said.
13. Sino-Pakistan Nuclear Cooperation
Agence France Presse (“US STUDYING CHINA-PAKISTAN NUCLEAR DEAL”, 2010/05/11) reported that the United States said it was carefully reviewing the PRC’s plans to build two civilian nuclear reactors in Pakistan, urging all nations to respect non-proliferation commitments. US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg said that discussions were underway about the issue and the United States has not “reached a final conclusion.” “But it’s something we’re obviously looking at very carefully,” Steinberg said. “I think it’s important to scrupulously honor these non-proliferation commitments,” he said. “We’ll want to continue to engage on the question, about whether this is permitted under the understandings of the IAEA.”
14. Sino-India Relations
All Headline News (“INDIA BRUSHES OFF CLAIMS OF CHINESE ‘TRANSGRESSIONS’”, 2010/05/11) reported that reports indicate that the PRC’s foray into Indian Territory, both real and virtual, is currently unchecked and growing fast. According to sources, armed patrols of the PRC’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) launched at least three incursions into Indian Territory at Trig Heights and Pangong Tso Lake in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir last week. Since January, as many as 30 such transgressions were observed in the Trig Heights area alone. This records a sharp jump of 35 percent in PRC “transgressions” into these sectors since 2009.
15. PRC Human Rights
Associated Press (“CHINA, US TO RENEW HUMAN RIGHTS TALKS”, 2010/05/11) reported that this week’s resumption of U.S.-PRC human rights talks after two years will spotlight what critics say is a deterioration in Beijing’s record on legal protections, free speech and civil society. The meetings in Washington on Thursday and Friday are the first such dialogue in two years and are expected to take up individual cases such as Liu Xiaobo’s, along with a list of topics including religious freedom, attacks on the legal profession and the PRC’s strict Internet controls.
Washington Post (“CHINA’S CRACKDOWN ON NONPROFIT GROUPS PROMPTS NEW FEARS AMONG ACTIVISTS”, 2010/05/11) reported that the PRC government in the past several weeks has intensified a subtle but steady tightening over the country’s freewheeling civil society sector, with some nonprofit groups saying they are feeling increasingly harassed, targeted by tax investigations and subjected to new restrictions on receiving donations from abroad. Despite the long-running tensions between NGOs and the government, activists, lawyers and others said the latest moves against the civil society sector appear more sustained and serious than earlier cyclical crackdowns.
Agence France Presse (“CHINA ENVIRONMENTALIST ALLEGES BRUTAL JAIL TREATMENT”, 2010/05/11) reported that a top PRC environmentalist said Tuesday he was beaten and suffered brutal treatment while serving a three-year jail term imposed after he spoke out about rampant pollution in a major lake. Wu Lihong also told AFP that authorities tried to force him to confess to bogus extortion charges. “I am innocent, it’s obvious that the authorities have sought to harm me. I will continue to appeal the conviction and seek to clear my name,” Wu told AFP.
16. PRC Tibet Issue
Telegraph (“DALAI LAMA FAKES LOVE OF CRICKET TO IMPRESS INDIA, CHINA CLAIMS “, 2010/05/11) reported that the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism aroused Beijing’s anger when he attended an Indian cricket match as a special guest last month. Beijing’s ire was voiced earlier this week in an editorial in the government-run People’s Daily newspaper, in which the spiritual leader was denounced for describing himself as a “son of India” and pretending a love of cricket to please its government. “The religious leader was trying to prove to be a worthy son of India by participating in the country’s favourite pastime” the article said. The People’s Daily claimed he had no right to speak on “China’s internal issue concerning Tibet” if he was the “son of a foreign country”.
17. Cross-Strait Relations
Taipei Times (“DPP DENIES OPENING TALKS WITH CHINA”, 2010/05/11) reported that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday denied it is already in the process of opening talks with the PRC. The party made the rebuttal following a Reuters interview with DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen, which quoted Tsai as saying: “The [DPP] has already organized a group of scholars and non-governmental organizations to open talks [with China].” In a press briefing, DPP spokesperson Lin Yu-chang yesterday said Tsai did not address the issue during the interview. He also denied that the DPP had any plans to organize a group for such a purpose.
Defense News (“TAIWAN: REPORT HIGHLIGHTS FIGHTER GAP WITH CHINA”, 2010/05/11) reported that a report issued May 11 by the Washington-based US-Taiwan Business Council highlights the need to improve Taiwan’s air defense capabilities in response to a growing threat by the PRC. The US-Taiwan Business Council is pushing for the release of 66 F-16C/D fighters, which have been on hold by the U.S. since a request by Taiwan in 2006. “The Balance of Air Power in the Taiwan Strait” is clearly a plea for the release of the fighters. It should be noted, the council represents the business interests of U.S. defense companies and not U.S. foreign policy.