As China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) ends this week, there are signs that Xi Jinping, who was formally installed as China’s president on Thursday, will pursue a more assertive foreign policy, while carefully seeking to avoid any immediate confrontation, particularly with the US. China’s new leadership signals more assertive foreign policy - 3/16/2013
3/20/2013In his inaugural address as president, and with a few rhetorical flourishes that Barack Obama would be proud of, Xi Jinping grandly laid out his vision of the “Chinese Dream".
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- Xi Jinping calls for a "Chinese Dream" - 3/17/2013
China’s National Peoples Congress (NPC) concluded yesterday after completing the once-in-a-decade leadership transition that began with last year’s Chinese Communist Party congress. CCP general secretary Xi Jinping was formally endorsed as the president of China, replacing Hu Jintao, and Li Keqiang was installed as Chinese premier, replacing Wen Jiabao.The two top leaders indicated, in broad terms, the policy agenda of the new leadership, which confronts a slowing economy and deepening social crisis at home, and increasingly aggressive diplomatic, trade and strategic moves by the US and its allies abroad.The openly pro-market Li outlined the economic policy. He had collaborated with the World Bank to produce last year’s China 2030 report—a blueprint for vast economic restructuring to expand the role of private capital, sharply reduce the role of the state in the economy and demand higher productivity from workers. China’s NPC installs new leadership - 3/18/2013
China’s newly installed premier, Li Keqiang, emphasised in his first press conference on Sunday that the government is preparing sweeping “free market” economic restructuring measures, including privatisation of state assets and deregulation of the banking and finance sector. The remarks of Li, who was formally appointed the successor of Premier Web Jiabao by the National Peoples Congress (NPC) that concluded on the weekend, underscore the new Chinese Communist Party leadership is committed to an accelerated assault on the jobs, working conditions, and living standards of the working class.After the NPC, Li took questions from Chinese and foreign journalists for nearly two hours in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People. During the press conference, broadcast live on Chinese state television, the new premier mentioned “reform” two dozen times to emphasise the forceful character of his policy. “The reform is about curbing government power; it is a self-imposed revolution,” he declared. “It will require real sacrifice and this will be painful and even feel like cutting one’s wrist”.Li added: “We need to leave to the market and society what they can do well… All wealth creators, either state-owned or private, should be duly rewarded for having honestly competed on a level playing field.” The premier admitted that the government was heading into “unchartered waters”, warning: “We may also have to confront some protracted problems. This is because we will have to shake up vested interests… Sometimes stirring vested interests can be more difficult than stirring the soul. No matter how deep the water is, we’ll wade into it because we have no alternative.”Li struck a populist, anti-corruption pose when he pledged to rein in spending on government buildings and on officials’ perks. This was an obvious attempt to placate public hostility towards the CCP leadership’s accumulation of enormous personal wealth in the last two decades. The premier was also preparing a bogus “shared sacrifice” rationale for austerity spending cuts targeting the working class.The central message of Li’s press conference was directed to the international financial markets. He explained that the market would be given a greater role in setting the interest rate and exchange rate, allowing companies to have greater access to credit via bond and equity markets. Li also told global investors that the state-dominated railway, energy and financial sectors would be opened up by the government to allow private capital “to enter more smoothly and effectively”.The premier’s remarks were hailed in the international financial press. Paul Markowski, head of New York-based MES Advisers and a long-standing consultant to the Chinese financial authorities, told Reuters that Li’s proposals would “bring on structural reforms that will ultimately reduce the old SOEs [state-owned enterprises] to ashes.”Markowisk compared Li’s government to the one headed by former Premier Zhu Rongji in the 1990s, the “economic Tsar” who ruthlessly axed 30 million jobs in the last wave of privatisation that paved the way for China joining the World Trade Organisation in 2001. Within Li’s new cabinet, Vice Premier Ma Kai, Finance Minister Lou Jiwei, and central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuang were all leading figures at Zhu’s State Commission for Restructuring the Economy.Li’s installation as premier is a product of a protracted power struggle within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Li was a student of a leading neo-liberal economist, Li Yining, at Peking University. In 1991, the economist and three of his students, including Li, co-authored a book, Towards A Strategic Choice of Prosperity, which argued for the introduction of share ownership reforms of state-owned enterprises. This ended up being adopted by the government as it moved to restore capitalism and sell off state industries in the 1990s. In 2005, Professor Li Yining became publicly known after declaring that it was necessary to “sacrifice a generation” or 30 million workers by axing them from state enterprises in order to advance further “reform”.Premier Li has now joined the new CCP leadership as it prepares to implement a sweeping pro-business agenda. After the ruling party’s 18th Congress last November, CCP general secretary and now president Xi Jinping re-conducted the landmark “Southern Tour” by late Deng Xiaoping in early 1992, an event that turned the regime into full-scale embrace of capitalist market. The end of the 1990s saw China become a cheap labour workshop for world capitalism and a new property-owning class emerged out of the Stalinist bureaucracy.A report by Ernst & Young for transnational corporations investing in China,China’s Productivity Imperative, spells out the implications of the latest reform drive is to intensify the exploitation of the working class. It said China is facing “a very different business environment” than in the past decade, when growth was driven by exports to Europe and America. “The situation is most serious in relations to Europe, where exports have recently started falling,” the report noted. “Revenues flowing to China’s industrial sector have slowed as a result.” At the same time, productivity growth in China has fallen from 4.7 percent average annual growth between 2001 and 2007 to just 2.8 percent between 2008 and 2010. As the earlier round of “market liberalisation and privatisation have largely run their course, and the mass reallocation of labour from low productivity agriculture to higher productivity is coming to an end”, raising productivity is now “critical for China’s economic future”, Ernst & Young concluded.China’s levels of productivity are below even the world’s average standards, lagging behind countries such as Thailand, Colombia and Morocco. At the same time, enterprises in China are facing threats from growing competition from cheap labour suppliers like India and Vietnam.The agenda advanced by Li and the entire Chinese government will involve a concerted drive to enforce productivity speed-ups in factories and workplaces across the country and to drive down average wages. The latest “reforms” will escalate underlying social tensions in China to boiling point. The regime is preparing for violent confrontations with the working class. The NPC has approved a 8.7 percent increase to budget on domestic security this year to $124 billion, ahead of the country’s military spending of $114 billion.China’s new premier to enforce “painful” market restructuring - 3/20/2013
China is on track to overtake America as the world's biggest economy in 2016 as its growth accelerates, according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
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China 'to overtake America by 2016' - 3/22/2013
Thanks to corporate loopholes and profit-driven manufacturers, it’s harder than ever to really know what you are putting into your body — or perhaps even more importantly the mouths of your children. That said, it is possible to make sure you’re getting what is not just labeled organic and shipped from a contaminated facility in China, but actually high quality. The fact of the matter is that the decision to switch to organic food is one that signifies a serious change in lifestyle across the board, leading to a wealth of information and serious optimizations for your health. It’s a decision that should not be hindered by slick marketing techniques and labeling loopholes that are unfortunately taken advantage of by many fake ‘health’ companies. Subsidiary corporations that are actually owned by major parent companies like Coca-Cola that really don’t care about the quality or health effects of their products. It’s these companies that will soon be put out of business as consumers begin to care about not only what they’re eating, but who and what they’re supporting. In the past we have seen excellent charts created, such as the one created by professor Phillip H. Howard out of Michigan StateUniversity, that details how this actually works on a realistic scale. As you can see from the graphic below, many familiar corporate food giants actually have boughtup or created many ‘health’ food companies in order to soak up some of the profits from the rapidly expanding market of organic food items: via MichiganState University
Phony Organics from China?Granted, some of these items under the subsidiary companies are certified organic in the United States and are definitely of higher quality than processed non-organic junk. That said, some companies are showing their entire hands by failing to actually care about the health concerns of aware individuals and are instead going as far as China to get fake ‘organic’ products that have been found to contain large amounts of contamination. A number of organizations have sounded the alarm on this subject, including The Cornucopia Institute, which is the same institute that discoveredthe presence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in many so-called ‘natural’ and ‘healthy’ products — many of which under the same brands found on the chart as being owned by multi-national Big Food corporations. It was back in 2011, however, that the organization exposedrampant organic certification fraud stemming from China.Originally brought up in a 2009 report on the real quality of so-called USDA ‘organic’ food from China, the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) went public in their fight against deceitful organic labeling practices in China. Cornucopia reported: “The Chinese firm used the counterfeit certificate to represent non-organic crops, including soybeans, millet and buckwheat, as certified organic.”This was even taken a step further when Mike Adams of NaturalNews actuallytested chlorella (a superfood product) from China that was certified USDA organic, only to discover it contained concerning amounts of contamination. The chlorella tested actually contained 29 ppm of aluminum, but that’s not really the worst part. Due to the serious lack of regulation (as in there is none) regarding China’s environmental practices, the food produced there (and supplements) are open to extreme toxicity from all ends of the spectrum.Is it possible to test for every single toxic element? If you had endless amounts of cash, perhaps. What is clear, however, is that Chinese certified organic chlorella contained 10 times the amount of aluminum that Taiwan-based chlorella registered. I suspect much worse could be said for ‘organic’ crops grown outside in the smog-drenched farming areas around China.Buying High QualitySo what can you do about it? First and foremost, it’s time to start purchasing from reputable brands that aren’t owned by Coca-Cola or sourced from China. For starters, it’s always important to look for a few things to know right off the bat that this company most likely cares about your health:Is it certified organic in China? It’s easy to check right away if it’s certified through reputable organizations. Oregon Tilth is considered one of the best. If in doubt, do a Google search or call the company if you purchase frequently.Does the product specifically list that it does not contain GMOs, or is it a verified product within the Non-GMO Project? This shows some sincerity in actually displaying to an informed consumer that this product (or brand as a whole, like Amy’s) doesn’t use GMO sources. This is a great indication.Does the product contain synthetic ingredients? Don’t forget, that ‘organic’ milk can be ‘fortified’ with synthetic vitamin D2 — a toxic, synthetic form of vitamin D. Personally, I always look forsynthetics, especially for beverages. If you find synthetics, chances are it is a cheap ‘organic’ product.These tips alone will help you weed through most junk quality brands. Just finding the organic certification alone will guarantee you much higher quality food. As always I want to congratulate you for even deciding to start avoiding toxic ingredients and processed foods full of GMOs and deciding to eat real food. It can be hard at times, but it is entirely rewarding. Plus, it funds real companies who are actually bettering the world as opposed to companies like Coca-Cola that only removed a known carcinogenic chemical after being forced to do so by the state of California.Anthony’s article first appeared at NaturalSociety.com. Chinese ‘Organic’ Contamination: How to Avoid Fake Organic Products
4/2/2013It’s not exactly news that China is setting itself up as a new global superpower, is it? While Western civilization chokes on its own gluttony like a latter-day Marlon Brando, China continues to buy up American debt and lock away the world’s natural resources. But now, not content to simply laugh and make jerk-off signs as they pass us on the geopolitical highway, they’ve also developed a state-endorsed genetic-engineering project.At BGI Shenzhen, scientists have collected DNA samples from 2,000 of the world’s smartest people and are sequencing their entire genomes in an attempt to identify the alleles which determine human intelligence. Apparently they’re not far from finding them, and when they do, embryo screening will allow parents to pick their brightest zygote and potentially bump up every generation's intelligence by five to 15 IQ points. Within a couple of generations, competing with the Chinese on an intellectual level will be like challenging Lena Dunham to a getting-naked-on-TV contest.Geoffrey Miller, an evolutionary psychologist and lecturer at NYU, is one of the 2,000 braniacs who contributed their DNA. I spoke to him about what this creepy-ass program might mean for the future of Chinese kids.
- VICE: Hey, Geoffrey. Does China have a history of eugenics?
- Geoffrey Miller: As soon as Deng Xiaoping took power in the late 70s, he took the whole focus of the Chinese government from trying to manage the economy, to trying to manage the quality and quantity of people. In the 90s, they started to do widespread prenatal testing for birth defects with ultrasound, and more recently, they've spent a lot of money researching human genetics to figure out which genes make people smarter.
- What do you know about BGI Shenzhen?
- It’s the biggest genetic research center in China, and I think the biggest in the world, by a considerable margin. They’re not just doing human genetics; BGI is also doing lots of plant genetics, animal genetics, anything that’s economically relevant or scientifically interesting.
- Are you in touch with them?
- I just got an email a couple of days ago saying that they’d almost finished doing the sequencing for the BGI Cognitive Genetics Project, the one I gave my genetics to, and that the results would be available soon.
- What was their selection process?
- They seem mostly interested in people of Chinese and European descent. They’re basically recruiting through a scientific conference, through word of mouth. You have to provide some evidence that you’re as smart as you say you are. You have to send your complete CV, publications you’ve produced, standardized-test scores, where you went to college... stuff like that.
- How will the research be applied?
- Once you’ve got that information and a fertilized egg that’s divided into a few cells, you can sample one of the cells to figure out the expected intelligence if it’s implanted and becomes a person.
- What does that mean in human language?
- Any given couple could potentially have several eggs fertilized in the lab with the dad’s sperm and the mom’s eggs. Then you can test multiple embryos and analyze which one’s going to be the smartest. That kid would belong to that couple as if they had it naturally, but it would be the smartest a couple would be able to produce if they had 100 kids. It’s not genetic engineering or adding new genes, it’s the genes that couples already have.
- And over the course of several generations you’re able to exponentially multiply the population’s intelligence.
- Right. Even if it only boosts the average kid by five IQ points, that’s a huge difference in terms of economic productivity, the competitiveness of the country, how many patents they get, how their businesses are run, and how innovative their economy is.
- Could it develop into something more sinister?
- That same research does open up the door potentially to genetic engineering in the future. But that would take a lot longer to make practical.
- When do you think the embryo analysis might be implemented on a large scale?
- Actual use of the technology to do embryo screening might take five to ten years, but it could be just a few years. It depends on how motivated they are.
- Could this whole process be repeated with other characteristics, like physical appearance?
- Absolutely. In fact, almost any trait other than intelligence would be easier to do. We know that intelligence depends on lots of genes while physical traits—like hair or eye color—only depend on a few genes. Things like body shape would be easier to do, physical attractiveness would be pretty complicated, personality traits might be a little simpler than intelligence—how hard working somebody is, how impulsive, how politically liberal or conservative they are would be easier. How religious you are—that’s definitely influenced by genes to some degree.
- Shit. How does Western research in genetics compare to China’s?
- We’re pretty far behind. We have the same technical capabilities, the same statistical capabilities to analyze the data, but they’re collecting the data on a much larger scale and seem to be capable of transforming the scientific findings into government policy and consumer genetic testing much more easily than we are. Technically and scientifically we could be doing this, but we’re not.
- Why not?
- We have ideological biases that say, “Well, this could be troubling, we shouldn’t be meddling with nature, we shouldn’t be meddling with God.” I just attended a debate in New York a few weeks ago about whether or not we should outlaw genetic engineering in babies and the audience was pretty split. In China, 95 percent of an audience would say, “Obviously you should make babies genetically healthier, happier, and brighter!” There’s a big cultural difference.
- What else is China doing that we aren’t?
- Well, they’re also investing a huge amount of money in education, they’re creating new systems of universities that emphasise more creative approaches to learning, and they’re sending hundreds of thousands of college students to America and Europe to see how our education systems operate so they can bring their own systems up to our standards and above.
- Do you think global domination is in the cards, then?
- The Chinese Communist party has never really sought global domination. They think of it as restoring China to its rightful and historical place as the central culture of humanity. Europe got a temporary advantage, but they’re just restoring the natural balance as the world’s most populous country. I don’t think they have any imperial ambitions to spread China’s borders—they’re not going to act like Nazi Germany or America in the 20th century—but they do want respect and they do want influence and they don’t trust America or Europe to run the world in the right way, in terms of issues like global warming or equality or economic stability.
- Maybe they’re on to something.Follow Aleks on Twitter: @slandrMore about China on VICE:
(NaturalNews) A mysterious wave of animal deaths that kicked off at the start of 2011 is picking back up in China, where tens of thousands of farm animals and wildlife have turned up dead in the communist country's waterways in recent weeks. According to reports, the mass die-offs have affected mainly rivers and tributaries around the densely-populated Shanghai region, and the death count thus far includes tens of thousands of pigs, roughly 1,000 ducks, and at least five black swans.
According to a report issued by the Associated Press (AP) on March 22, a little more than a week after the first dead pigs were discovered, more than 10,000 pig carcasses had already been pulled out of the Huangpu River, which is a primary source of drinking water for the Shanghai region. Around the same time, more than 5,500 dead pigs were also removed from tributaries upstream in the provinces of Jiaxing and Zhejiang. (HERE)
Following these discoveries, some hog farmers from around the area told news outlets that this seemingly inexplicable die-off is actually the result of black market swine dealers dumping their illicit stocks in the water to avoid getting caught. Local police, according to reports, have been cracking down on the growing underground swine trade, which involves the off-the-books sale of diseased or already-dead pigs to buyers who turn it into food illegally -- pork products in China, according to the law, must be made from healthy animals.
Others are claiming the pig predicament is the result of an upsurge in industrial pig farms throughout the region, many of which are flouting the law by dumping substandard pigs into the river rather than disposing of them properly. According to one government-controlled media outlet in China, the thousands of dead pigs being found right now in the Huangpu River are the result of "local pig farmers who lack awareness of laws and regulations."(HERE)
Is China purposely killing off pigs to avoid pork inflation?The liberty-lovers over at ZeroHedge.com, however, have a slightly different take on the situation in China. As you may recall, cattle ranchers and hog farmers all across the country had to bring many of their animals to slaughter early as a result of persistent drought conditions throughout the past several years. Initially, meat prices dropped significantly due to a glut of product on the market. But over time, prices began to rise as demand outpaced supply. (http://www.naturalnews.com)
How does this relate to China's current situation with all the dead pigs? According to a ZeroHedge.com writer who goes by the pseudonym of Tyler Durden, China is well aware of the fact that the U.S. Federal Reserve's ongoing money printing spree (quantitative easing) is going to affect the prices of goods and services in China, where U.S. debt holdings are extremely high. And all the excess liquidity created as a result of the expanded U.S. money supply will eventually trigger inflation in China, where a lot of U.S. dollars end up, and from where a lot of U.S.-destined products are exported.
Since pork is China's most popular food product, the government there may very well be manipulating pork stocks to prevent this precious national asset from spiking in price and causing panic and chaos. By essentially grossing the Chinese people out with thousands of dead, floating pigs in Shanghai's water supply, government officials may be trying to temporarily thwart the inflation of pork prices by deterring people from buying it, at least for a little while.
"Pork prices in [China] were undergoing a seasonal decline after Chinese New Year, but the recent scandal has rotted demand," explains WantChinaTimes.com. "The Chinese government's guidelines on official conduct, including the restrictions imposed on holding official banquets, is another factor affecting pork demand, driving down prices to levels resembling a crash."(HERE)
When considering the fact that, of all the available meats on the market, pork is expected to rise in price at the fastest rate as we move into the future, Durden's hypothesis about the Chinese government's role in the mass pig deaths is definitely a possibility. But this widespread revulsion to pork cannot last forever, regardless of whether or not the Chinese government is actually involved in triggering it, and it does not explain all the other mysterious animal deaths that have also occurred recently.
Pigs, ducks and swans all turning up dead in China's polluted watersIt is no secret that China does not exactly have the best reputation for environmental stewardship and responsible industry practices. Besides being one of the most heavily-polluted nations in the world, China has also been responsible for causing some of the worst consumer product scares in recent history, including its export of children's toys tainted with lead, for instance, and infant formula contaminated with melamine. With these and many other scandals in mind, it is hardly surprising that pigs are not the only animals now turning up dead in China's polluted waters.
Just days after authorities had cleared out more than 16,000 dead pigs from the Huangpu River, roughly 1,000 dead ducks were discovered in the Nanhe River in China's southwestern territory, which is far from Shanghai. Just like with the pigs, authorities were quick to dismiss the possibility that the dead animals were any type of health threat to local residents. But according to reports, it is unknown precisely why these animals died.(HERE)
4/4/2013Even stranger was the more recent discovery of five dead black swans floating in a pond at Anhui University, which is some 200 miles-or-so west of Shanghai. According to reports, the pond, like many other waterways in China, is heavily polluted with "oily water and garbage," which may be the simplest explanation as to why these birds all died at the exact same time. But like the ducks, authorities have yet to determine without a doubt how the swans met their fate. (HERE)Learn more: HERE China hit by 'animal apocalypse' as mass die-offs continue in ultra-polluted nation - 4/2/2013
China has started mobilizing military forces around the Korean peninsula in response to rising tensions that follow recent threats by North Korea to launch missile attacks against its southern neighbor and the United States.
According to US officials, Pyongyang’s declaration of a ‘state of war’ against South Korea has led to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to increase its military presence on the border with the North. The officials say the process has been going on since mid-March, and includes troop movements and readying fighter jets. The PLA is now at ‘Level One’ readiness, its highest.
Chinese forces, including tanks and armored personnel carriers, have been spotted in the city of Ji’an and near the Yalu River, which splits China and North Korea. Other border regions were also reportedly being patrolled by planes.China has also been conducting live-firing naval exercises in the Yellow Sea, scheduled to end on Monday. The move is widely viewed as open support for North Korea, which continues to show extreme opposition to the US-South Korean military drills that are to last until May.
The news comes as the USdeployed its USS Fitzgerald destroyer off the coast of North Korea, adding to its Sunday deployment of F-22 fighter jets to take part in the drills with the friendly South, which has further served to heighten tensions on the peninsula.
Meanwhile, North Korea has been mobilizing its short and medium-range missile arsenal, according to analyses of satellite imagery. Officials say Pyongyang is set to test its new KN-08 medium-range mobile missile; they say preparations have been spotted in the past. Pyongyang claims that since March 26, its forces have been placed on their highest possible status of alert.Although officials believe Pyongyang will not provoke Seoul during the war games, they also fear that a miscalculation by South Korea could lead to all-out war, following its promise of retaliation against the North, should it launch its missiles first.
South Korean anti-aircraft armoured vehicles move over a temporary bridge during a river-crossing military drill in Hwacheon near the border with North Korea on April 1, 2013 (AFP Photo / KIim Jae-Hwan)
North Korea and China have maintained a long-standing defense treaty under which Beijing is to come to Pyongyang’s aid in the event of an attack. The last time this was put into practice was during the Korean War, when tens of thousands of Chinese volunteer forces were deployed on the Korean Peninsula. The relationship between the two countries is often referred to as being “as close as lips and teeth” by Chinese military spokesmen.
Despite the heated tensions leading to an apparent disruption in trade and commerce between China and North Korea, the two are already making future plans to bolster their economic ties. March 27 saw the announcement of a new high-speed railway, as well as a special highway passenger line.
Still, many in Chinese circles have shown displeasure at Pyongyang’s seemingly aggressive relationship with Seoul and Washington. A Chinese official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, has testified that US presence in the region is a helpful restraint against an unpredictable Kim Jong-un, which many believe to be the real reason Beijing has not been strong in its criticism of the amassing of US forces in the region.
Furthermore, Chinese websites and blogs could sometimes be found openly bashing the North Korean leader for an apparent mishandling of the situation in the region, playing diplomatic games amid chronic food shortages in his country. An editor at the country’s Study Times newspaper was recently suspended for openly criticizing China for abandoning North Korea.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un attending the plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea in Pyongyang (AFP Photo / KCNA via KNS)
Expert opinion differs on what China’s exact position is in the unfolding regional crisis.
US officials claim the China’s main fear is a collapse of order in North Korea, which would lead to a large-scale refugee flow into China.Another possible reason for China to worry is advanced by journalist James Corbett, host of the Corbett Report, who believes that foreign military presence in the region is just as unnerving to China as it is to Pyongyang. He discussed this in the light of the latest war drills.
“I think that this has the possibility of ratcheting things up to the point where tensions might actually spill over as a result of this, and we saw that recently with the deployment of B-2 nuclear armed bombers in South Korea which is not only, I think, worrying to Pyongyang, but also to China, to have nuclear bombers that close to the peninsula there, on China’s southern border. I think that China wouldn’t be pleased with that either, so this is quite an escalation that’s taking place.”
Others believe openly that the US strategy is geared not towards the destabilization of North Korea, but that of China. Li Jie, an expert with a Chinese navy research institution, has told Reuters that “the ultimate strategic aim is to contain and blockade China, to distract China's attention and slow its development. What the US is most worried about is the further development of China's economy and military strength."
Retired Major General Luo Yuan, who is one of China’s foremost military authorities, believes, however that "once the joint US-South Korean exercises have finished and with birthday celebrations for (late founder of North Korea) Kim Il-sung imminent, the temperature will gradually cool and get back to the status quo of no war, no unification."
While it has been urging calm and peace in the region, Beijing has been very obliging at the UN Security Council, when it helped push through the latest round of sanctions against North Korea in March, following its third nuclear test the previous month. Despite being Pyongyang’s greatest ally in the region, some experts believe this is a sign of Beijing’s growing impatience. American diplomat Christopher R. Hill, who helped under the Bush administration to negotiate a deal for the dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear facilities (which didn’t last), says that the Chinese strategy is“not about the words, it is about the music.”
The resolution came hours after North Korea, angered at both the US-South Korean war games, and at the proposed UN plan, threatened pre-emptive nuclear action against the South and US military bases in the region
April 3, 2013.This latest standoff between North and South Korea and the US is credited to have started on February 12, when Pyongyang supposedly performed its latest underground nuclear weapons test. Just this weekend, North Korea vowed to boost its nuclear arsenal, calling it a “treasure of a reunified country”which it would never trade for anything, even “billions of dollars” worth of aid. China Mobilizes Military, On ‘High Alert’ Over Korea Threats - 4/4/2013
China has intervened in the deepening Korea crisis by summoning the ambassadors of North and South Korea, as well as the United States, to warn tensions must be defused on the Korean peninsula.The abrupt set of exchanges came after Pyongyang shut down the last shared link with the South by refusing entry to almost 500 South Korean workers who work in a cross-border industrial park.Zhang Yesui, the deputy foreign minister, outlined Beijing's "serious concern about the present situation", and added that it expects the escalation of tension to cease."All sides must remain calm and exercise restraint and not take actions which are mutually provocative and must certainly not take actions which will worsen the situation," said the foreign ministry.Kim Jong-Un during an inspection of the second battalion under Korth Korean army Unit 1973The Kaesong complex lies six miles inside North Korea and houses 123 South Korean companies and their 53,000 North Korean workers.
- Mass rallies held backing Kim Jong-un 03 Apr 2013
- North Korea blocks entry to industrial zone 03 Apr 2013
- North Korea crisis: US reaction 02 Apr 2013
- US vows to defend itself and South Korea 02 Apr 2013
- US sends missile defences to Guam as NKorea 'approves nuclear strike' 03 Apr 2013
A key source of foreign currency for Pyongyang, generating some $100 million (£66 million) each year, it has never been closed, weathering the aftermath of the 2009 nuclear tests and the shelling of Yongpyeong island the following year.
However, North Korea's decision to block workers and supply trucks from entering the site casts doubt over Kaesong's future security.
North Korea said the 861 South Koreans who were at the site on Wednesday were free to return home, but with no replacements arriving for their shifts, only 33 did so.
"Our workers are on standby to return," said the boss of one factory on the site, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of offending North Korea. "If the situation continues, however, our business will be affected. I am afraid buyers will worry [that our goods will not come out of Kaesong]," he added.
Kim Kwan-jin, Seoul's Defence chief, said if hostages were taken at the site, South Korea would consider military action to free them.
Two US B2 stealth bombers flew over the Korean peninsula
The army has practised an annual drill, called Ulchi Freedom Guardian to free hostages, according to Yonhap, the South Korean news agency.
"Special forces will conduct the operation along with military and government officials in case of crisis," a military official told Yonhap.
However, experts said it was almost unthinkable that South Korean soldiers would storm the border. "If North Korea puts Kaesong workers into danger, military operations should be considered as a last resort," a senior government official told Yonhap. "We should pressure North Korea through diplomatic means."
Workers emerging from Kaesong on Wednesday said production was continuing.
"There seemed to be nothing different at Kaesong, although customs officers at the border wore uniforms and more soldiers were seen," one textile worker named Roh said.
He added that a greater concern, with supply trucks blocked, is whether the complex runs out of food. South Korea applies for permission to enter Kaesong on a daily basis, and North Korea has not indicated how long the ban will continue.
A spokesman for the Unification ministry noted that North Korea has yet to take any unprecedented steps as it ratchets up press on the international community. He said access to Kaesong had been cut on three occasions in 2009 during the annual military drills between the US and South Korean armies.
France, meanwhile, called on China to rein in North Korea. Laurent Fabius, the French Foreign minister, said China had "power over North Korea" and that he would travel to Beijing next week to discuss the situation.
Senior American officials remain relaxed about the situation, predicting that North Korea will back down after this year's military exercises conclude.
4 April 2013"The North Koreans want the international community to feed their people, fuel their factories and fill their bank accounts," one official told the New York Times. "If North Korea were a self-sufficient enterprise, we would have a much bigger problem on our hands." China Warns Tensions Must be ‘defused’ in Deepening Korea Crisis
China appeals for calm amid fears of war over US escalation in KoreaBy Alex LantierChinese officials appealed for calm in the Korean peninsula yesterday, as the United States deployed missiles and further military forces to East Asia amid a standoff over North Korea’s nuclear program.Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui had expressed “serious concern” over the Korean crisis, in meetings with the US and South Korean ambassadors.Hong added, “In the present situation, China believes all sides must remain calm and exercise restraint and not take actions which are mutually provocative, and must certainly not take actions which will worsen the situation.”Tensions continued to rise, however, amid fears of a border clash in Korea that could trigger a wider war. Washington continued to deploy overwhelming firepower to the region and pressed China—the key ally of North Korea, a small and impoverished state that depends on it for critical food and fuel supplies—to whip Pyongyang into line.
According to Pentagon press secretary George Little, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned his Chinese counterpart, General Chang Wanquan, of a “growing threat to the US and our allies posed by North Korea’s aggressive pursuit of nuclear weapons.” Hagel demanded “sustained US-China dialogue and cooperation on these issues.”
Washington also continued to ratchet up military tensions, deploying missile batteries to its Pacific island base at Guam. This came after weeks of US-South Korean “Eagle Foal” military exercises, during which the United States repeatedly sent nuclear-capable bombers and high-tech guided-missile ships to the Korean peninsula.
Details continue to emerge about the US military buildup in the region, which is aimed at escalating military tensions.
Washington is in particular arming the South Korean army, amid its “pivot to Asia” designed to contain China and maintain US hegemony in the region. It is upgrading a shipment of 60 F-15 fighter planes to Seoul, as well as sending a large number of Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) trucks.
USA Today indicated that these trucks, used to guard against roadside bombs in US-occupied Afghanistan and Iraq, would “offer similar protection in North Korea, should US forces need to travel on its roads”—that is, if US forces invaded and occupied North Korea.
American B-1 bomber pilots at Dyess Air Force Base in Texas have reportedly shifted their training programs, training for trans-Pacific flights towards targets in East Asia, instead of flights to Afghanistan and the Middle East. US ground troops have also already deployed to bases in Australia, while the US recently announced plans to send more warships to Singapore.
In another sign of rising tensions in the region, China yesterday cancelled its participation in a joint summit with South Korea and Japan. It cited tensions with Japan over the Senkaku (Diaoyu) islands.
The North Korean regime, for its part, released a statement through the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), stating that “The moment of explosion is approaching fast.” It added that US threats would be “smashed” by “cutting-edge smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike means.”
Given that Pyongyang is thought to have only a few crude nuclear bombs, and no means to mount them on a missile—let alone miniaturized, subdivided nuclear devices like those fielded by the United States—such threats appear to be a bluff.
Pyongyang closed down the border crossing between South Korea and the industrial export zone at Kaesong, North Korea. The Kaesong zone generates a vital $2 billion a year in trade for impoverished North Korea, including approximately $80 million in wages to 53,000 North Korean workers. Some 1,000 South Koreans are also employed at the complex; if they returned to South Korea, they will no longer be able to return to Kaesong, as a result of the closure of the border crossing.
South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin provocatively announced that he is preparing contingencies for “military action” to rescue South Koreans at Kaesong, if needed.
Cheong Seong-chang of the Sejong Institute think-tank in Seoul told the Guardian that Pyongyang closed the border crossing at Kaesong apparently due to anger at “having been ridiculed for keeping Kaesong open for financial reasons,” while it was threatening war with South Korea.
Together with reports that sections of the North Korean regime are in discussions with German officials to restore full trading and market relations with the imperialist powers, such comments suggest that media presentations of Pyongyang as bent on waging suicidal nuclear war with the US are misleading. A divided, reactionary bureaucracy in Pyongyang is desperately seeking some form of accommodation in the face of overwhelming US pressure on Pyongyang and on Beijing.
Under conditions where no deal is forthcoming from Washington, however, North Korea’s rhetoric simply further inflames the situation.
Behind the US conflict with North Korea stands preparations and planning for a far wider and potentially devastating conflict, with China—America’s largest foreign creditor, who has also helped block US war plans against Middle Eastern countries such as Syria and Iran.
An article titled “War with China” in Survival, the magazine of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, lays out some of the calculations in leading US circles regarding the possibility of war with North Korea or a collapse of the regime in Pyongyang.
The piece was written by James Dobbins, a former US assistant secretary of state who currently holds top positions at the RAND think-tank. He lists “collapse” in North Korea as the most likely cause of a war between China and the United States, followed by conflict over Taiwan, cyber war, conflict over control of the South China Sea, and conflicts with India.
Dobbins makes clear that aggressive military operations by the United States, sending forces into North Korea, is the heart of any response envisaged by Washington. This action, taken with complete contempt for international law, would rapidly raise the possibility of a clash with Chinese forces stationed along the China-North Korea border.
He writes, “The immediate operational concerns for United States Forces—Korea/Combined Forces Command would be to secure ballistic-missile-launch and WMD sites. If any coherent North Korean army remained, it could be necessary to neutralize its long-range artillery, it could be necessary to neutralize its long-range artillery threatening Seoul as well… While South Korea would provide sizable forces and capabilities for these missions, they would be inadequate to deal with the scope and complexity of a complete North Korean collapse. Substantial and extended commitments of US ground forces would be required to rapidly seize and secure numerous locations, some with vast perimeters.”
Dobbins adds, “The likelihood of confrontations, accidental or otherwise, between US and Chinese forces is high in this scenario.”