Summitry for Politics’ Sake

It’s hard not to yawn.

North and South Korea have agreed to hold preliminary military talks on 8 February, in an attempt to defuse heightened tensions on the peninsula.

South Korea’s President Lee Myung-bak urged the North to seize a “good chance” to improve relations.

The Koreas will discuss the two deadly attacks by Pyongyang against the South, which killed a total of 50 people, Seoul’s defence ministry said.

The talks may lead to a more senior meeting, possibly at ministerial level.

Alarming China Factoid of the Day

Beijing’s R&D budget: 5 trillion yuan (US$758.4 billion)

Sean Darby, Asia strategist for Nomura international (HK) Ltd., estimated the amount of spending over the next five years in a report this week at 5 trillion yuan (US$758.4 billion), an even bigger amount than the mammoth – and successful – 4 trillion yuan stimulus package announced by the central government in 2008 as an attempt to minimize the impact of the global financial crisis.

Hugh Peyman, the managing director of Research-Works, the leading independent equities research firm based in China, told Asia Sentinel that “It will be larger than people think. We are 60 percent of the way through a 25-year program to get R&D up to 2 percent of GDP, yet 75 percent of the spending lies ahead in the last decade to 2020.”


Keep Talking Huntsman Up for China-US Relations’ Sake

After listening to Ambassador Jon Huntsman, Jr. – especially fielding questions from the audience – I don’t want Huntsman to run for president in 2012. He’s needed in China.

China’s rapid development and Sino-American relations have a direct impact on the lives of just about everyone in the United States. CHINA Town Hall: Local Connections, National Reflections, is a national day of programming designed to provide Americans across the United States and beyond the opportunity to discuss these issues with leading experts.

Flogging Hope in North Korea

The top American envoy to North continues to sound hopeful about a new round of North Korea diplomacy

In the wake of the shelling of Yeonpyeong island, the US and South Korea held large-scale military exercises in the area.

China has called for a resumption of six-party nuclear disarmament talks but the US, Japan and South Korea have so far been reluctant to agree without a sign from Pyongyang that it is sincere.

In recent days, however, statements from both the Koreas have appeared more conciliatory, suggesting talks could be a possibility.

Again With the China Meme

Lee Byung-Chul argues that Beijing has a lot more to do with North Korea’s “peaceful” overtures to South Korea than previously thought.

One of the lessons of this episode is that despite professions of inability to control its client state, China appears now to have demonstrated unrivaled leverage on the North in terms of economic, political and military intervention. In addition to supplying substantial amounts of aid including 90 percent of the North’s oil at sharply lower “friendly prices,” China has co-opted and trained a pro-Chinese cadre of North Korean functionaries and elites in the hopes that they would become collaborators under the coming regime of Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il’s son and presumptive heir. So Beijing is no longer hiding its solid hold over the North.

Szeto Wah Dies Kong pro-democracy activist and teacher, Szeto Wah has died at the age of 79 from lung cancer


From Hong Kong Mr Szeto was a thorn in its side: a man who clearly gave the lie to the party’s claim to be the sole representative of Chinese patriotism. Mr Szeto was a critic of British colonial rule, but also of the party’s dictatorial ways.

Korea and Taiwan Vie for the Lower End of Chinese Markets

Via Jose Areta – and I still don’t know what “the “penalty factor” is – South Korea and Taiwan traded statistical accolades in the Chinese market. But, it’s interesting how South Korea did it.

Citing statistics released by China’s customs authorities, the ministry said Taiwan secured a 8.4 percent share of China’s total imports for the first 11 months of last year, lagging behind South Korea’s 10 percent share.

But Taiwan overtook South Korea in terms of growth in exports to China for the 11-month period, posting a 37.9 percent year-on-year increase to South Korea’s 37.4 percent rise, the ministry said.

Huntsman, the Anti-Tea Party Fall Guy

I feel for Newsweek‘s mandarins, who really want to pick a presidential winner AND humiliate the Tea Party.

The cable-news crowd will undoubtedly scoff at [current Ambassador to China and former Republican governor of Utah, Jon] Huntsman’s prospects in a Republican primary. After a right-wing resurgence flooded Congress with Tea Party Republicans, the field doesn’t appear particularly inviting to a moderate Obama appointee. But

Muzzling the South Korean Dog

Not that I ignore the Korean angle to hostilities on the Korean peninsula, or think the road to unification runs through Beijing, but developments like a new Chinese Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile (ASBM) capability will keep me awake at nights. Especially, that is, when Chinese hacks write with this kind of bravado.

Kaplan Learns to Like China

So, Robert Kaplan is sleeping with the Commiesnow.

As before, he views the rise of the Chinese military as “wholly legitimate” — the product of growing commercial realities, not a drive for conquest. “If you governed China, with the responsibility of lifting hundreds of millions of Chinese into an energy-ravenous, middle-class lifestyle,” he writes, “you, too, would seek a credible navy in order to protect your merchant fleet across the Indian Ocean and western Pacific.”

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