My November Diplomat Essay: China & Russia are Not Displacing the US bc of the Syria Deal


This is a re-up of my monthly column for The Diplomat for November. Here is the original. I must say I don’t find the comments to be particularly helpful over there, so please give me your thoughts.

Current Korean Strategy Debate in the Media: K Caught b/t the US and China

cover_28151813This is a lengthy piece I just wrote for this week’s edition of Newsweek Korea. Here is the link for the Korean version; below is the English translation. That is the edition’s cover to the left. Needless to say, the guys who came up with that cover haven’t been to Amsterdam. Moving on… Here is that essay.

“Since the recent visit of US Secretary of Defense Charles Hagel to Japan, a rising discussion in South Korea (SK) turns on the country’s tight position between China and Japan.

My Website is blocked in China – Hah! I’m flattered


I was just in China for a work thing, when I checked the Duck of Minerva (the IR blog where I also write) for something. Turns out the Duck is screened out by the Great Firewall. Even if you go to Google Search Hong Kong, it’s still blocked.

Robert Kelly's Diplomat Interview on North Korea, Syria, and China’s Rise


Frequent readers know that I am regular contributor to the Diplomat web-magazine. On October 10, Editor James Pach interviewed me, mostly about Northeast Asia. Jim is a great guy, and I think these questions helpfully expand on some ideas I have put on the blog recently, especially my recent piece on reining in US presidential wars powers.

My September Diplomat Essay: Relax – Chinese Hegemony in Asia is Unlikely

The Terracotta Army

Confession:  I was more excited about going to Xi’an to see the Terracotta Warriors than I was to visit the Great Wall of China.  And, in hindsight, I was not wrong.  These guys are so cool!  If you are ever in China, they are well worth the (high-speed or sleeper) train ride from Beijing.


Outside of Xi’an, China, archaeologists have uncovered thousands of terracotta soldiers, horses, chariots, and other battle equipment.  The figures were constructed around 200 BC to guard the tomb of the first Chinese emperor and to insure that he retained his military might in the afterlife.

Beijing Vacation

In mid-September, Koreans celebrate Chuseok, a traditional holiday where people travel back to the towns where they are from in order to visit their families, celebrate the harvest, and pay their respects to their ancestors, living and dead.  Unable to be Carolina-bound just yet, Ric and I opted to use the five days of vacation to visit China. While I will happily wander about anywhere, I have to admit China really wasn’t on my list of places to see.  Boy, was I wrong.  It’s cool beyond belief, and we’re already contemplating going back to catch some things we didn’t get to see the first time around.

Beijing Video Memories

Happy Friday everyone! Thought I would share the video that Joe made of our trip to Beijing. The rest of the group were lucky enough to move on to Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur and Vietnam, so there are some photos of those places too.

It already feels like so long ago! I hate when such great moments turn into memories that so easily slip away unless you're reminded of them.

About half way through the video is my favourite, Joe starts dedicating sections to everyone that was there, I haven't laughed at my desk so much in so long! This has put me in a great mood ready for the weekend. Only one more week until my mum arrives!

I also love Of Monsters and Men, which only makes the video even better!

Enjoy your weekend!

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Best of Beijing Outakes

Beijing seems like an age away now that i'm back at school. But with the return of Clare and Joe from the second leg of their Summer holiday in Vietnam, I've had the chance to look through the pictures Joe took on his lovely new camera, and I couldn't help but laugh to myself about them. Here they some of the best bits of Beijing...

Hostel Bar
Bird Poop


Beijing was full of red lanterns down small alleys, rainy days on great walls, old men on richshaws taking you wherever you needed to be, ancient and foreboding palaces, huge calm lakes we rode on pedalos, the amazing food that was always cheap and quick, dumplings, jasmine ice cream, scorpions on sticks that were still moving as a delicious treat (not that I was daring enough to try), lotus root, baked ice cream, peking duck, did I mention the food? The cold beer, haggling markets, colourful parasols, birthday nights out, roof top bars and friends I hadn't seen in such a long time. China was everything I had imagined it to be. It was nice to be in a big city that felt really Asian. Sometimes, in Korea it's easy to forget I'm so far from home.

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