I. United States
1. DPRK-US Talks
Reuters (“N.KOREA SAYS U.S. MUST EASE STANCE FOR TALKS TO RESUME,” Tokyo, 10/23/01) reported that the DPRK lashed out at US President George W. Bush on October 23, saying that the US government must soften its stance before talks between the two nations can resume. In particular, it criticized remarks made by Bush last week in which he warned the DPRK not to threaten the ROK and referred to DPRK leader Kim Jong-il as suspicious and secretive. A spokesman for the DPRK foreign ministry was quoted by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), as saying, “It is a senseless attitude from even elementary diplomatic etiquette for the head of state of the US to speak ill of the leader of another country, who is a stranger to him, for no reason. Such reckless deed tells that he has no image as a politician, to say nothing of that of a head of state. Then, how can we trust the United States though it makes honeyed words?” Bush had rejected suggestions last week that his administration was responsible for stalling an apparent thaw in relations between the DPRK and the ROK and said the ball was now in the DPRK leader’s court. However the DPRK Foreign Ministry spokesman challenged this, saying: “It is universally known that it was none other than Bush who began casting a string of doubts, saying he feels skeptical about the North Korean leader as soon as he assumed the presidential office. And it was again his administration which put the DPRK (North Korea)-U.S. dialogue which was under way to a stalemate.” The spokesman added that unless the Bush administration adopts a stance similar to that of the Clinton administration, resuming talks will be difficult. The official added, “We consider the resumption of the DPRK-US dialogue to be a matter that may be discussed only when the Bush administration takes at least the same position as taken by the Clinton administration in its last period.”
2. “One-China” Interpretations
South China Morning Post (Jason Blatt, “TAIWAN PREMIER FIRM ON ‘ONE CHINA’ STANCE,” 10/24/01) reported that Taiwan Premier Chang Chun-hsiung on October 23 reiterated Taiwan’s opposition to the PRC demand that it accept the “one China” principle, saying such a move would de-legitimize Taiwan’s status as the last bastion of the Republic of China. Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian, speaking at rallies for Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidates running in the December 1 parliamentary election, said he would continue to shun PRC demand that he “return” to the so-called “1992 consensus.” Under the informal arrangement, reached orally between representatives of Taiwan and the PRC, both sides agreed to recognize a “one China” principle, but also reserved the right to offer differing interpretations of what “one China” meant. Chen’s remarks were seen as appealing to the DPP’s pro-independence voter base. On Tuesday, opposition lawmakers demanded that Chang explain why recognizing the “1992 consensus” was the equivalent of selling out Taiwan. Chang said, “If ‘one China, differing interpretations’ can let both sides of the strait resume negotiations, then there’s nothing [bad] to say about it. But the problem is that the Chinese communists are also opposed to ‘one China, differing interpretations’. So if we accept the ‘1992 consensus’ as recognition of ‘one China’, there will no longer be a Republic of China after accepting ‘one China’.” Chang also said Taiwan lacked an internal consensus on whether to accept “one China, differing interpretations.” The remarks by Chang and Chen brought immediate criticism from the KMT.
3. Commentary on PRC Foreign Policy
South China Morning Post published an opinion article by Zhang Tianguang, a senior engineer who studied American Studies, as a civilian, at the PLA’s Foreign Language University, (“CHINA’S FOREIGN POLICY FINALLY COMES OF AGE,” 10/19/01) which said that “most Chinese people” think the PRC decision to side with the US and its partners in the fight against international terrorism is the PRC’s wisest decision in a decade. Zhang noted that the unconditional support the PRC offered for the US-led war against terrorism is refreshing for the world and the people of the PRC. However, for most Chinese, he continued, “humiliations at the hands of America are still fresh in the mind.” Given this angry backdrop, Zhang continued, “many Chinese, although shocked, took some solace in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon because they revealed America to be as vulnerable as China. These people believe that to some extent the US Government’s unilateral policies are to blame. That does not mean they think Islamic extremists are blameless or that ordinary American people deserve to be hurt, just that the US has reaped what it has sown.” Zhang also noted that initially, the PRC might have attempted to link its co-operation with US support for its fight against separatists in western PRC and Taiwan, but it later decided this was unwise during such a crisis. He continued, “Sino-American relations are at a crossroads. The US should stop demonizing China, which cannot be a ‘strategic competitor’ for the foreseeable future. And China should initiate political reforms and abandon its policy of making the fight against US hegemony its security priority. In fact, the Chinese people and the American people are friends – it is just their governments that do not get along.”
4. US-PRC Relations
Reuters (“US-CHINA PLANE INCIDENT SAID OVER,” Washington, 10/23/01) reported that a US official said on October 23 that the spy plane incident that caused a crisis between the US and the PRC earlier this year appears to have ended without the US paying the money the PRC demanded. The official said after the PRC rejected a US offer of US$34,576 for costs associated with the incident, the matter was dropped. The official said, “We sent them a check for what we though was reasonable costs and they didn’t accept it. It’s been three months now … I think it’s done.”
II. Republic of Korea
1. US-DPRK Relations
The Korea Herald (Hwang Jang-jin, “U.S. WELCOMES N.K. IN ANTI-TERROR CAMPAIGN,” Seoul, 10/24/01) reported that US ambassador to the ROK Thomas Hubbard said on October 23 that the US is ready to welcome the DPRK if it contributes to the international coalition against terrorism. Hubbard said that recent statements by the DPRK expressing its regret over the September 11 attacks in the US, and its opposition to any forms of terrorism, were “positive steps.” Hubbard said during a breakfast forum hosted by the Kwanhun Club, an organization of senior journalists, “The North Koreans have been less forthcoming in supporting the coalition against terrorism. All the nations are threatened by terrorism. They have a stake in this struggle and should be trying to find ways to help out.” Hubbard did not specify what help it wants the DPRK to offer, but said the US will welcome intelligence on Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network that the DPRK may have. He reiterated that the US is ready to resume talks with the DPRK, though the anti-terrorism war is currently its top policy priority.
2. Inter-Korean Talks
The Korea Herald (Kim Ji-ho, “N. KOREA STICKS TO MT. GEUMGANG AS SITE FOR TALKS,” Seoul, 10/24/01) reported that in a protracted tug-of-war between the two Koreas over the venue of bilateral talks, the DPRK on October 23 insisted that the cabinet-level talks scheduled for October 28-31 be held at its Mount Kumgang resort. The DPRK made the announcement in response to the ROK’s earlier proposal that the sixth round of ministerial talks take place in Pyongyang.
3. DPRK Refutes Bush’s Remark
Joongang Ilbo (Kim Hee-sung, “NORTH CONDEMNS PRESIDENT BUSH’S SPEECH ON N.K. LEADER,” Seoul, 10/24/01) reported that on October 23, the DPRK denounced US President George W. Bush’s speech on the DPRK-US relations before his to leaving to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Forum (APEC). The DPRK reiterated that the Bush administration must resume a stance similar to that of Clinton administration. Bush gave a strong warning October 17 that the DPRK should not take advantage of the US preoccupation with terrorism and threaten the ROK. In the speech, Bush also expressed disappointment in DPRK leader Kim Jong-il for not rising to the occasion of reconciliatory exchange and being “so suspicious, so secretive.” The DPRK Foreign Ministry spokesman said via state-run Radio Pyongyang, “Such speech of our leader being suspicious and secretive was an imprudent remark.” The spokesman further explained that the “Clinton times,” in which the DPRK and the US came to exchange special envoys, putting an end to hostility of the two nations, are at an end. The spokesman continued to state that the Bush administration must at least return back to Clinton administration’s stance for resumption of confident bilateral dialogue. The spokesman also said the US demand in June to reduce its conventional weapon is nothing but a scheme to disarm the nation and a trap to turn down talks.
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