NAPSNet Daily Report 23 June, 2009
Contents in this Issue:
- I. NAPSNet
- 1. Russia on DPRK Nuclear Talks
- 2. Four Powers on DPRK Nuclear Program
- 3. US Interdiction of DPRK Ships
- 4. DPRK Military Drill
- 5. UN Sanctions on the DPRK
- 6. Aid to the DPRK
- 7. DPRK Security
- 8. DPRK Economy
- 9. DPRK Leadership
- 10. ROK-Russian Energy Cooperation
- 11. ROK Past Dictatorships
- 12. ROK Environment
- 13. US-Japan Security Alliance
- 14. Japan SDF
- 15. Sino-US Military Relations
- 16. Cross Strait Relations
- 17. Sino-Burmese Relations
- 18. Uighur Detainee Issue
- 19. PRC Environment
- 20. PRC Climate Change
- 21. PRC Poverty and Environment
- II. PRC Report
1. Russia on DPRK Nuclear Talks
RIA Novosti (“RUSSIA BACKS FIVE-NATION TALKS ON NORTH KOREA”, 2009/06/22) reported that Moscow supports the idea of five-party talks on the DPRK’s nuclear problem to determine further steps in dealing with the current crisis, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. “We highly regard cooperation between the ‘seven’ [Russia, the United States, France, Britain, China, Japan and South Korea] in the UN Security Council,” the ministry said in a statement. “We are in favor of conducting five-party talks to discuss further actions,” the statement said.
2. Four Powers on DPRK Nuclear Program
Yonhap (“REGIONAL POWERS VOW ‘STERN BUT DIPLOMATIC’ SOLUTION TO N. KOREAN PROBLEM”, Seoul, 2009/06/23) reported that the US, PRC, Russian, and Japanese ambassadors held a forum at the ROK National Assembly on Tuesday to discuss the DPRK’s nuclear and missile threats. U.S. Ambassador Kathleen Stephens said Washington will cope with the crisis in close consultation with its allies. PRC Ambassador Cheng Yonghua said his country supports the U.N. Security Council’s resolution, but pointed out that sanctions against Pyongyang are not an ultimate goal. Russian Ambassador Gleb Ivashentsov echoed the view, saying it is important to “cut off emotions,” and called for the parties to “subtly analyze all nuances and move forward while combining firmness and determination with restraint.” Japanese Ambassador Torinoshi Shigei said his country has no intention of using the DPRK’s threats as a pretext for bolstering its nuclear capability.
3. US Interdiction of DPRK Ships
The Associated Press (“OFFICIAL: N. KOREAN SHIP CARRIES WEAPONS TO MYANMAR”, 2009/06/22) reported that a DPRK-flagged ship under close watch in Asian waters is believed to be heading toward Myanmar carrying small arms cargo banned under a new U.N. resolution, a ROK intelligence official said. The DPRK, however, is unlikely to allow any inspection of its cargo, making an interception unlikely, said Hong Hyun-ik, an analyst at the Sejong Institute think tank.
Associated Press (Hyung-jin Kim, “CLOSELY WATCHED NKOREAN SHIP STILL OFF CHINA COAST”, Seoul, 2009/06/23) reported that the ROK broadcaster YTN said the DPRK ship Kang Nam was traveling in waters 200 nautical miles (230 miles; 370 kilometers) southeast of Shanghai at a speed of about 10 knots, or 10 nautical miles, (11.5 miles; 18.5 kilometers) per hour. The Kang Nam is expected to dock at Myanmar ‘s Thilawa port, some 20 miles (30 kilometers) south of Yangon, in the next few days, according to the Irrawaddy , an online magazine operated by independent exiled journalists from Myanmar. A spokesman for the Singapore Foreign Affairs Ministry, said, “Singapore takes seriously the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), their means of delivery and related materials. If the allegation is true, Singapore will act appropriately.”
4. DPRK Military Drill
Reuters (“NORTH KOREA WARNS OF MILITARY DRILL OFF COAST – JAPAN”, 2009/06/22) reported that the DPRK has warned it will conduct a military firing exercise off its eastern city of Wonsan, Japan’s Coast Guard said on Monday, in a possible indication of a missile test. The DPRK said the exercise would take place between June 25 and July 10 within a 110-km (68 mile) range from Wonsan, Japan Coast Guard spokesman Shinya Suzuki said. The warning comes after the Coast Guard received two warnings earlier this month for ships to stay away from waters in a smaller area.
5. UN Sanctions on the DPRK
Reuters (“U.N. PANEL CONSIDERS EXPANDING NORTH KOREA BLACKLIST”, 2009/06/22) reported that a U.N. sanctions committee is considering blacklisting more DPRK companies, and individuals, for supporting Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs. The 15-nation Security Council passed a resolution last week that expanded previous U.N. sanctions against the DPRK in response to its May 25 nuclear test, and gave the committee 30 days to add new names to the sanctions list. Turkish U.N. Ambassador Baki Ilkin, chairman of the DPRK sanctions committee, told reporters that he had already received lists of candidates for blacklisting. “There are some lists and there will be more of those, I presume,” Ilkin told reporters.
6. Aid to the DPRK
KBS News (“US, UN CONTINUE HUMANITARIAN AID TO NK “, 2009/06/22) reported that the US and the United Nations will continue humanitarian aid projects to the DPRK, despite the U.N. Security Council’s latest sanctions on the DPRK for nuclear provocations. Spokesman Stephane Dujarric from the U.N. Development Program said that aid projects will continue as planned regardless of the sanctions resolution. The U.S. State Department’s Agency for International Development (USAID) also plans to continue its medical aid projects for the DPRK.
7. DPRK Security
Xinhua News (“DPRK NEWSPAPER CALLS ON PEOPLE TO DEFEND INTERESTS OF COUNTRY”, Pyongyang, 2009/06/22) reported that an editorial carried by the official Rodong Sinmun daily of the DPRK urged the people to fight the “imperialists” with confidence and optimism, in a bid to defend the security and interests of the country. It called on the people to cling to the belief that “it will definitely win under the leadership of the great general” Kim Jong Il. It also called on the people to carry forward the spirit of self-reliance and speed up economic construction on their own. The Party should instruct the youth to adhere to the “revolutionary faith” and optimism, it said.
8. DPRK Economy
Time (“NORTH KOREA TRIES TO RAMP UP ITS LAGGING TECH INFRASTRUCTURE”, 2009/06/22) reported that the DPRK is trying to stimulate its dire economic fortunes by slowly opening its economy to foreign business — and the lack of convenient cell-phone service has emerged as a major irritant, especially for the hundreds of PRC firms active there, which make up the largest group of foreign investors. Those investors now actually have an ally in Kim Jong Il, who has quietly reversed his earlier decision and started upgrading the country’s dilapidated communications infrastructure. The DPRK has quietly launched an educational offensive to ramp up his country’s computing skills and build an internationally competitive IT industry, moves that experts say have been strongly encouraged by Kim’s oldest son, Jong Nam, who directs the Korea Computer Center.
9. DPRK Leadership
Chosun Ilbo (“KIM JONG-IL’S HEALTH ‘GETTING RAPIDLY WORSE’ “, 2009/06/22) reported that the health of DPRK leader Kim Jong-il is rapidly deteriorating, prompting the hasty decision to name his third son Jong-un as heir apparent, sources told the PRC press. The Global News, a sister paper of the official People’s Daily, quoted a foreign ambassador in Pyongyang as saying that Kim Jong-il’s fragile health made the situation in the DPRK “very complicated.” A DPRK source in Beijing said Beijing-based DPRK officials from Ponghwa Hospital, which is treating Kim’s illness, are looking to import expensive medical equipment. Pyongyang is also seeking to import an emergency helicopter from overseas.
10. ROK-Russian Energy Cooperation
Agence France-Presse (“SKOREA, RUSSIA DISCUSS GAS DEAL DESPITE TENSIONS”, Seoul, 2009/06/23) reported that Korea Gas Corp (KOGAS) officials said Alexey Miller, chairman of the management committee of Russia ‘s state-run Gazprom, arrived Monday for talks on details for shipping Russian natural gas to the ROK. “The agenda includes a joint feasibility study on pipelining natural gas from Russia’s Far East to South Korea through North Korea or transporting gas in a liquefied form by ship,” a senior KOGAS official said. Gazprom has agreed to export 10 billion cubic metres (350 billion cubic feet) of gas a year to the ROK beginning the 2015-2017 period, the official said. The official said he was unaware of proposals for an undersea pipeline, which “is not an easy option to take in terms of engineering and cost.”
11. ROK Past Dictatorships
Arirang News (“GOV’T TO COMPENSATE VICTIMS WRONGLY ACCUSED OF TREASON”, Seoul, 2009/06/22) reported that the Seoul Central District Court ruled Friday that the government should compensate 25 people who were falsely accused of treason in 1975. The victims were acquitted in 2007 of conspiracy to overthrow the government, but only after eight executions were carried out. The court said that although the legal period for the lawsuit had expired it should recognize victims’ claims against the government’s unconstitutional acts that violated their human rights.
12. ROK Environment
Chosun Ilbo (“2 DAMS OMITTED FROM 4 RIVERS PROJECT MASTER PLAN”, Tokyo, 2009/06/22) reported that the number of dams the government intends to build on the Nakdong River as part of the four-rivers project has risen from eight to 10. 80 percent of bridges along the Nakdong would need to be strengthened for safety reasons should the river bed be dredged to increase water flow under the project. One official at the land ministry said the other eight dams were designed to maintain water flow during droughts but the two dams not included “are designed to promote leisure and tourism activities along the waterways.”
13. US-Japan Security Alliance
Agence French Presse (“JAPAN DENIES SEA BORDERS WERE DRAWN TO ALLOW US NUKE SHIPS”, Tokyo, 2009/06/22) reported that Japan’s Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone on Monday denied a report that the country had demarcated its territorial waters so as to avoid disputes over the movement of U.S. warships carrying nuclear weapons. “The territorial waters were not demarcated from a military standpoint,” Nakasone told reporters. Japan’s Kyodo News agency, which said it was quoting several unidentified former vice foreign ministers, reported that this was done so that U.S. warships could sail through those key choke points while avoiding Japanese territorial waters. “It was set at three nautical miles so that the government would not need to lie” about the passage of U.S. nuclear weapons, Kyodo said.
14. Japan SDF
Reuters (“JAPAN EYES BIGGER MILITARY AS TENSION RISES: REPORT”, 2009/06/22) reported that a draft of Japan’s new mid-term defense policy guidelines is calling for the reinforcement of military personnel and equipment in the face of growing regional tensions, Kyodo news agency said. The draft, obtained by Kyodo, says Japan needs to reverse its policy of reducing its defense budgets in light of the DPRK’s missile launches and nuclear tests, as well as the PRC’s rise to a major military power, the news agency said. The document urges the government to raise the number of Ground Self-Defense Forces troops by 5,000 to 160,000, Kyodo said.
15. Sino-US Military Relations
Agence France-Presse (Marianne Barriaux, “US AND CHINA MEET FOR DEFENCE TALKS”, Beijing, 2009/06/23) reported that a US delegation led by Michele Flournoy , under-secretary for defence, met PRC defence officials in Beijing for talks on Monday. “China and the US discussing the situation on the Korean Peninsula is a natural thing and we take this consultation very seriously, and hope that we can get positive results out of it,” PRC foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said. A Pentagon official said in Washington over the weekend that “North Korea will factor in very strongly” in the talks. “We would hope that China would use whatever influence they have with North Korea to convince them to change their behaviour,” he added.
16. Cross Strait Relations
DPA (“CHINA SENDS FIRST MEDICAL TOUR GROUP TO TAIWAN “, Taipei, 2009/06/22) reported that the first PRC medical tour group to Taiwan departed to benefit from the island’s advanced medical facilities and techniques. The inaugural group consists of 30 people from the PRC’s southern Guangzhou province. They are to enjoy a six-day tour which combines physical checkups, spa and sightseeing. The medical tour was arranged by four Taiwan hospitals and the Taiwan External Trade Promotion Council with the aim of luring more PRC residents to visit Taiwan.
17. Sino-Burmese Relations
Xinhua News (“MYANMAR 2ND TOP LEADER’S CHINA VISIT BRINGS ABOUT NEW SUCCESS IN BILATERAL RELATIONS “, Yangon, 2009/06/22) reported that Myanmar’s second top leader Maung Aye’s recent goodwill visit to the PRC has brought about new success in bilateral relations between the two countries, Myanmar state media commented. Maung Aye, Vice Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council, Deputy Commander-in Chief of the Defense Services and Commander-in-Chief of the Army, paid a six-day goodwill visit to the PRC from June 15 to 20. Maung Aye and Vice President Xi Jinping also held discussions in Beijing over progress of cooperation in politics between the two countries, cooperative measures of the two countries and financial crisis, mutual cooperation in human resources development, energy, electrical, transport, trade and industrial sectors and prospects for cooperation in other sectors.
18. Uighur Detainee Issue
Associated Press (Tomoko A. Hosaka, “PALAU PRESIDENT: GITMO DETAINEES STILL FEAR CHINA”, Melekeok, 2009/06/23) reported that some PRC Muslims detained at Guantanamo Bay who have been offered resettlement in Palau are leery of moving there for fear that it cannot stand up to the PRC, Palau President Johnson Toribiong president said Tuesday. “Some said (Palau) is too small,” he said. “And when they showed pictures of Palau, there was a photo showing some Chinese signs . And that led them to ask, ‘Do you have an army? Do you have a navy?’ because they are concerned about their safety from the Chinese.”
19. PRC Environment
China Daily (“YELLOW RIVER DAMS VERGE ON COLLAPSE”, 2009/06/22) reported that several dams on branches of the Yellow River in Gansu province are near collapse only one or two years after their construction. Improper construction procedures, disqualified workers, embezzlement of construction funds and mismanagement of local water resource departments are threatening the safety of the dams, according to China Youth Daily. One dike more than 80-m long and 20-m high, built in 2006 in Yuanxian county on the middle and upper reaches of the Yellow River, has developed a breach about 10 meters wide in the middle.
The Wall Street Journal (“CHINA ACTIVISTS SAY DAM WILL KILL OFF RARE FISH “, 2009/06/22) reported that environmental advocates are warning that a planned dam on the PRC’s Yangtze River could lead to the extinction of a number of rare fish species, casting a fresh spotlight on the potential environmental costs of the country’s huge hydroelectric building program. The proposed Xiaonanhai Dam would be located 30 kilometers upstream from the center of Chongqing, a rapidly expanding metropolis in southwestern PRC that hopes to use electricity from the dam to meet its growing energy needs. PRC officials are currently reviewing the project, and critics believe that preliminary approval could come as soon as the end of this month, although the timing couldn’t be confirmed.
20. PRC Climate Change
Agence French Presse (“TIBET DROUGHT WORST IN 30 YEARS: CHINESE STATE MEDIA”, 2009/06/22) reported that a drought in Tibet has intensified into the region’s worst in three decades, leaving thousands of hectares parched and killing more than 13,000 head of cattle, the PRC’s state media said Saturday. The report by Xinhua news agency follows a warning by the PRC’s top weather official last month that the Himalayan region faced a growing threat of drought and floods as global warming melts its glaciers. Experts have repeatedly warned of catastrophic consequences downstream if global warming continues to melt the snows and glaciers of mountainous Tibet, source of many of Asia’s mightiest rivers.
21. PRC Poverty and Environment
China.Org (“CLIMATE CHANGE UNDERMINES CHINA’S FIGHT AGAINST POVERTY”, 2009/06/22) reported that climate change is hitting the PRC’s poor the hardest while seriously weakening the country’s poverty alleviation efforts, a new report jointly released by Greenpeace China and Oxfam Hong Kong reveals today. The report, “Climate Change and Poverty: a case study of China”, also urges the government to commit to an ambitious climate rescue plan. The research finds that the PRC’s poverty-stricken areas are also those areas that are most vulnerable to climate change-caused disasters. The proportion of the absolute poverty population that is affected by climate change reached 95% in 2005, and is expected to rise. Case studies from Guangdong, Sichuan and Gansu provinces show that global warming induces floods, snow storms, and landslides which are detrimental to ecologically sensitive areas and hamper poverty relief efforts.
II. PRC Report
22. PRC Environment
Jinghua Times (“CHINA TO INVEST 333.6 BILL ON ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION”, 2009/06/22) reported that China is to carry out eight key environmental protection projects including urban sewage treatment, urban refuse treatment, medical waste disposal and so on, said Wu Xiaoqing, vice minister of Environmental Protection at the third China-Germany Environmental Protection Forum yesterday. The total investment will reach 333.6 billion yuan.
23. PRC Civil Society
Sina.com (“HP AND 3 NGOS JOINTLY LAUNCH BUSINESS PROMOTION PROJECT”, 2009/06/22) reported that HP China and three NGOS (Youth Business China, China Employment Promotion Association and Beijing Puping School) jointly launched a business promotion project yesterday. HP provides IT technical equipment worth of about 3 million yuan and some entrepreneurs may get the grants.