NAPSNet Daily Report 25 February, 2009
Contents in this Issue:
- I. NAPSNet
- 1. DPRK Missile Program
- 2. ROK, PRC on DPRK Missile Program
- 3. Sanctions Against DPRK
- 4. DPRK Foreign Investment
- 5. Inter-Korean Relations
- 6. Japan on DPRK
- 7. DPRK-PRC Trade Relations
- 8. ROK Environment
- 9. ROK Food Safety
- 10. ROK-Japan Territorial Dispute
- 11. Japan Climate Change
- 12. Japan Media
- 13. Japan-US Relations
- 14. Sino-US Relations
- 15. PRC Climate Change
- 16. PRC Energy
- 17. PRC Environment
- 18. PRC Economy
- 19. PRC Food Safety
- 20. PRC Tibet Issue
- II. PRC Report
1. DPRK Missile Program
New York Times (Choe Sang-Hun, “N. KOREA EXPANDS MISSILE ARSENAL”, Seoul, 2009/02/24) reported that DPRK has deployed a new ballistic missile that threatens U.S. military bases in Guam, according to an ROK Defense Ministry report released Monday. The biannual defense report also said that in the past two years, the DPRK has boosted the number of its special operations troops by 50 percent to 180,000, focusing on night-time, mountain and urban warfare based on “the lessons it had learned while watching the war in Iraq.” The DPRK’s new intermediate-range missile can travel about 1,800 miles carrying a 1,400-pound warhead, the report said. DPRK has 1.19 million troops as well as 2,500 to 5,000 tons of chemical weapons, the ROK said.
Chosun Ilbo (“KIM JONG-IL TOURING CLOSE TO MISSILE BASE”, 2009/02/24) reported that DPRK leader Kim Jong-il was recently reported to have toured a military unit in North Hamgyeong Province, home to the country’s missile base. The Korean Central News Agency on Monday said Kim watched a musical performance by a troupe of Unit 264 of the Korean People’s Army. Unit 264 is affiliated with the Ninth Corps, headquartered in Kyongsong County, North Hamgyeong Province. The Ninth Corps is in charge of missile test. Kim visited the corps some 35 days prior to the firing of a Taepodong-2 missile in late May 2006. Kyongsong County and Chongjin City are both not far from Musudan-ri, where a long-range missile launch pad is installed.
Agence France Presse (“CHINA WATCHING FOR NKOREA SATELLITE LAUNCH”, Beijing, 2009/02/24) reported that PRC said on Tuesday it had taken note of a planned PRC satellite launch that neighbouring countries believe could be a long-range missile test, but refused to comment further. “China takes note of this matter,” foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told reporters. Nevertheless, Ma said the Six Party Talks were making progress.
2. ROK, PRC on DPRK Missile Program
Yonhap (“CHINA EXPECTED TO URGE N. KOREA NOT TO LAUNCH ROCKET: MINISTER”, Beijing, 2009/02/25) reported that the PRC is expected to urge the DPRK not to launch what a rocket, RPK foreign minister Yu Myung-hwan said Wednesday. “Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told me he has watched attentively media reports on North Korea’s plan to launch a satellite,” Yu told ROK journalists in Beijing. “He said that he expects each side to take actions that contribute to the stabilization of Northeast Asia and the Korean Peninsula.” Yu said he did not directly ask for Beijing to intervene but said it is “safe” to interpret Yang’s remarks as meaning that the PRC is concerned about the DPRK’s recent behavior and will play a role. “China will convey our message through natural means,” Yu said after talks with Premier Wen Jiabao and Wang Jiarui, a senior PRC communist party official who met DPRK leader Kim Jong-il late last month in Pyongyang.
3. Sanctions Against DPRK
Yonhap News (Sam Kim, “SANCTIONS OVER N. KOREAN MISSILE TEST ELUSIVE: ANALYSTS”, Seoul, 2009/02/24) reported that the international community will face challenges in imposing sanctions on DPRK even if it pushes ahead with what it claims to be a space satellite launch, analysts said. “No evidence has been found that U.N. economic sanctions have had any effect on North Korea’s trade in luxury goods with its largest trade partner, China,” said Marcus Noland, senior researcher at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Koh Yu-hwan, a DPRK expert at Seoul’s Dongguk University, said trouble lies in the fact that DPRK is ramming home its claim that it is preparing a satellite, not a weapon. “It is aimed at potentially driving a wedge among its neighbors,” he said. Yang Moo-jin, a professor at Seoul’s University of DPRK Studies, said U.N. sanctions tend to come with loopholes and that the DPRK has grown nearly immune to penalties.
4. DPRK Foreign Investment
Bloomberg (Bradley K. Martin, “NORTH KOREA FUND SEEKS $50 MILLION AFTER TERROR LABEL REMOVED”, Tokyo, 2009/02/24) reported that a U.K. businessman is seeking to raise $50 million to invest in DPRK, reviving a 2005 plan after the U.S. government removed the communist regime from its list of countries that support terrorism. ChosunFund Pte. Ltd. will join with DPRK partners for mining and energy projects, Colin McAskill, founder of the Singapore-incorporated fund, said in an interview. “The country holds huge natural resources but is capital starved and lacks the technology and management skills with which to develop them,” McAskill said.
5. Inter-Korean Relations
Yonhap News (Sam Kim, “N. KOREAN PROVOCATION LIKELY TO BE ‘BEYOND IMAGINATION’: NAVAL COMMANDER”, Seoul, 2009/02/24) reported that ROK’s top naval commander was quoted Tuesday as warning that DPRK could provoke in a fashion “beyond our imagination” as he inspected ROK’s east coast despite rising concerns of an armed clash on the western side. The inspection by Navy Chief of Staff Jung Ok-keun came just days after the ROK chairman of general staff said at a parliamentary hearing that the DPRK could deploy surprise tactics by provoking at an unexpected site along the border with ROK.
6. Japan on DPRK
Associated Press (“JAPAN TO WARN NORTH AGAINST ANY POSSIBLE SECURITY THREAT: KAWAMURA “, Tokyo, 2009/02/24) reported that Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said Tuesday that Japan will urge DPRK to refrain from taking any action that would threaten peace in Asia. “The Japanese government will call on North Korea to refrain from taking any action that would undermine peace and security in the region.”
7. DPRK-PRC Trade Relations
Chosun Ilbo (“N.KOREA’S RELIANCE ON CHINA TRADE DEEPENS”, 2009/02/24) reported that trade between DPRK and PRC totaled US$2.78 billion last year, up 41.2 percent from $1.97 billion in the previous year, according to the statistics released on Monday by PRC Customs and PRC’s Ministry of Commerce. DPRK’s imports topped $2.03 billion, up 46 percent from the previous year, but its exports stood at $750 million, up only 29.7 percent. DPRK’s trade deficit with PRC reached a record high of $1.28 billion, up a whopping 57.7 percent from $810 million in 2007. Mineral resources accounted for 54.7 percent of the DPRK’s exports to PRC, while machinery and electronic equipment took up the biggest portion of imports.
8. ROK Environment
JoongAng Daily (Park Sun-young, “SPRING BICYCLING FESTIVAL SCHEDULED IN SEOUL CITY”, Seoul, 2009/02/25) reported that Seoul Metropolitan Government and the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly hold a large-scale cycling festival for over 10,000 people on April 25. The event is part of the city government’s push to get more people on bikes as a means of protecting the environment, easing traffic congestion and promoting health. They also agreed to team up on a public relations drive to encourage biking and promote the C40 Large Cities Climate Summit 2009 in Seoul.
9. ROK Food Safety
Yonhap News (“GOV’T FINDS MELAMINE IN FOOD ADDITIVE, BANS SALES OF SNACKS, DRINKS”, Seoul, 2009/02/24) reported that ROK health authorities ordered a sales ban on 12 snacks and drinks Tuesday following the discovery of a harmful industrial chemical in imported food additives. The ROK Food and Drug Administration said it found 8.4-21.9 parts per million of the chemical melamine in an iron-fortifying product made in Spain by a German company.
10. ROK-Japan Territorial Dispute
Kyodo News (“SEOUL ‘PREPARED’ TO DEFEND ISLETS”, Seoul, 2009/02/24) reported that ROK said in its 2008 defense white paper, issued Monday, it is “fully prepared” to defend its territory, including the islets in the Sea of Japan claimed by Japan. “(We) are fully prepared to firmly defend territories on the East, West and South sea, including Dokdo,” the paper says.
11. Japan Climate Change
Agence France Presse (“JAPAN MAY FORCE UTILITIES TO BUY SURPLUS DOMESTIC SOLAR POWER”, Tokyo, 2009/02/24) reported that Japan plans to soon require electricity companies to buy surplus power generated by household solar panels at about twice the current price, a government official said Tuesday. The scheme, to start as early as the fiscal year beginning in April, aims to promote solar power as part of efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions that drive global warming, an industry ministry official said.
12. Japan Media
Associated Press (Mari Yamaguchi, “JAPANESE PUBLIC BROADCASTER’S OFFICE SET ON FIRE”, Tokyo, 2009/02/24) reported that Japan’s public broadcaster NHK said Tuesday that one of its offices was set on fire over the weekend and that it received letters containing bullets. No injuries were reported in the fire. The broadcaster said it did not know what the motive was. “These actions against media institutions could threaten the freedom of the press and the public’s right to know, as well as democracy,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said.
13. Japan-US Relations
Associated Press (Foster Klug, “US MEETING WITH JAPAN’S PM MEANT TO REASSURE TOKYO”, Washington, 2009/02/24) reported that President Barack Obama told Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso on Tuesday that the United States wants to strengthen ties with Japan, a country Obama described as the cornerstone of U.S. security policy in East Asia and a major U.S. economic partner. Aso was the first foreign leader to visit the Obama White House, and the U.S. president called the prestigious invitation “a testimony to the strong partnership between the United States and Japan.” “The friendship between the United States and Japan is extraordinarily important to our country,” Obama told reporters. “We think that we have an opportunity to work together, not only on issues related to the Pacific Rim but throughout the world.”
14. Sino-US Relations
Associated Press (“CHINA HAILS ‘POSITIVE RESULTS’ OF CLINTON VISIT”, Beijing, 2009/02/24) reported that PRC gave U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton a glowing review Tuesday following her weekend visit, during which she steered clear of human rights issues and focused instead on matters such as trade and finance. PRC Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said that the visit produced “positive results,” and that the two countries are “sincerely willing to promote their relations.” “Through the visit, the two countries have built up mutual understanding … which will help the bilateral relations develop in a sound and stable manner in a new era,” Ma said at a news briefing.
15. PRC Climate Change
Bloomberg (Wang Ying, “CHINA MAY MEET CARBON EMISSION GOAL BEFORE 2010, MINISTER SAYS”, Beijing, 2009/02/24 19:00:00 GMT+0) reported that PRC may meet a 2010 target of reducing greenhouse gas output by 10 percent sooner as the government clamps down on polluting industries, the environment ministry said. Emissions of sulfur dioxide continued to decline last year, Vice Minister of Environmental Protection Zhang Lijun said. PRC seeks to slash the amount of energy consumed for each unit of gross domestic product by 20 percent in the five years ending 2010. The environmental ministry rejected or delayed approval of 156 polluting projects worth 473.7 billion yuan ($69 billion) last year.
16. PRC Energy
Dow Jones Newswires (“CHINA PLANS $36.5B FOR GRID UPGRADE”, 2009/02/24) reported that PRC power distributor State Grid Corp. announced plans to invest RMB 250 billion ($36.5 billion) in 2009 to upgrade its electric grid. State Grid, which distributes power in all but five of PRC’s provinces, plans to invest in the development of ultra-high voltage transmission lines and improve the flow of electricity on the grid from regions that produce more energy than they consume to the more densely populated areas without major energy projects.
17. PRC Environment
Xinhua News Agency (“OFFICIAL SAYS WATER, AIR POLLUTION IN CHINA STILL SERIOUS”, 2009/02/23) reported that lakes, rivers and the air in many places in PRC are still polluted, some seriously, in spite of continuous efforts to control pollution, said Zhang Lijun, deputy minister of environmental protection on Tuesday. Zhang said environmental protection departments across the country should press enterprises harder on pollution control. “The general situation of environmental pollution does not allow us to be optimistic,” Zhang told a national meeting on pollution control in Shanghai.
18. PRC Economy
China Education Online (Ye Feng, “SHANGHAI LEADS GRADUATES TO WORK IN NGOS”, 2009/02/24) reported that facing the severe employment situation, the Shanghai Bureau of Civil Affairs is digging for more jobs in “the third sector”. According to Director Ma Yili, the Shanghai Bureau of Civil Affairs jointly with many other governmental sectors will hold a “Social Organization” Special Recruiting for graduates and will hold a “Public Innovation Competition” to encourage more graduates to carve out niches in social organizations.
19. PRC Food Safety
Agence France-Presse (“CHINA TO SET UP CENTRAL FOOD SAFETY BODY: STATE MEDIA”, Beijing, 2009/02/25) reported that Xinhua news agency said Wednesday that the PRC will set up a central food safety commission to help cut down on dangerous food products. The commission will come under the auspices of the State Council, or Cabinet, and will be set out under a new food safety law to be put to the annual parliamentary session next month. The commission’s task would be “to strengthen the country’s food monitoring system, whose low efficiency has long been blamed for repeated food scandals,” the report said.
20. PRC Tibet Issue
Agence France Presse (“CHINA CLOSES TIBET TO FOREIGN TOURISTS: AGENCIES, HOTEL”, Beijing, 2009/02/24) reported that PRC has closed Tibet to foreign tourists ahead of next month’s highly sensitive 50th anniversary of a failed uprising against PRC rule, tour agencies and other industry people told AFP on Tuesday. “Authorities asked tour agents to stop organising foreigners coming to Tibet for tour trips until April 1,” an employee at a government-run travel agency in Lhasa told AFP. PRC said that foreigners are still able to apply to go to Tibet through “normal channels,” but failed to mention whether applications would be accepted.
Agence France-Presse (Marianne Barriaux, “TIBETANS BEGIN NEW YEAR WITH CRACKDOWN WARNING”, Beijing, 2009/02/25) reported that Tibetans began their New Year Wednesday amid heavy security. There are more armed police here than normal, they’re patrolling the streets, especially at night,” the owner of a restaurant in downtown Lhasa said. In a message to Tibetans on their New Year’s Eve, the Dalai Lama warned those in Tibet who came out “with a slight hint of their aspirations have to face torture and detention,” and pointed to restrictions imposed on monasteries, as well as so-called patriotic re-education for monks and nuns. The Dalai Lama said the measures taken by Chinese authorities were designed to provoke Tibetans into remonstrating. “When this happens the authorities can then indulge in (an) unprecedented and unimaginable forceful clampdown,” he said in the statement.
II. PRC Report
21. PRC AIDS Issue
Tianjin homosexual center website (“TIANJIN HOMOSEXUAL CENTER UNVEILED”, 2009/02/23) reported that Tianjin Homosexual Center was unveiled at the office of Dark Blue Working Group recently. The establishment of the Center aims to make more people know and understand AIDS, thus to contain the spread of AIDS among the crowd. The Center is supported by Tianjin Association of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and AIDS and experts of relevant fields.
22. PRC Environment
Beijing Times (“VOLUNTEERS HOLD PHOTOGRAPHY SHOW FOR SWAN PROTECTION”, Wang Kala, 2009/02/24) reported that volunteers from Beijing and Shandong province held a photography show yesterday at 798 Art Zone, to appeal for the protection of the habitat of wild swans. Over 40 photographs were exhibited that were taken in Rongcheng city of Shangdong province. Rongcheng has always been the winter habitat for wild swans. Recently due to over-development the habitat area is gradually declining, and many swans can only live on the feed by kind-hearted fishermen. The volunteers hope the show can make more people pay attention to the wild swans.
23. PRC Economy
Xinhua News Agency (“E CHINA CITY TO DISTRIBUTE 600 MLN YUAN IN PURCHASING COUPONS IN APRIL”, Hangzhou, 2009/02/24) reported that the government of Hangzhou, capital of east PRC’s Zhejiang Province, is planning to release a second batch of purchasing coupons in April to further boost the city’s consumption, said an official on Tuesday. This 600 million worth yuan worth of coupons will be used in sectors including tourism, social security, and education which the government wants most to boost.