Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Developments in East Asia

Developments in East Asia 

*It was announced today that Taiwan plans to withdraw its military troops  from the Jinmen islets of Tatan and Ertan.  The announcement was made on Wednesday, and officials also stated that the islands will be opened to tourists.  The islets were both part of a fierce battle in 1950, where Chinese PLA made a failed attempt to capture the islands from the ROC.  

* Philippines President Benigno Aquino's chief aide, Mr Rene Almendras stated that his country was on the "right track" to having a United Nations tribunal strike down China's claim to ownership of most of the area within the South China Sea, after the PRC publicly rejected the notion earlier in the week.  Almendreas stated that case could proceed without China's approval.  China and the Philippines both continue to lay claim to the Scarborough Shoal , an area that is coveted by both countries' fisherman, with the dispute leading to a trade war between the two countries last year. 

Ariel image of the Scarborough Shoal (Wiki) 

* In January,  United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay  unveiled a  proposal   would investigate long-reported human rights violations in North Korea.  The Washington Post reported today that although the measure has support from many within Washington, the idea is not universally supported in South Korea.  The level of pressure placed on North Korea has long been debated in South Korea, with many conservatives in the country favoring a hard-line approach with its neighbor to the North, while more liberal members of the South Korean government seeing a "softer" approach as the ideal way to successfully engage the DPRK.  Incoming South Korean President Park Geun-hye has stated that she desires to engage North Korea over its nuclear weapons program, but fears that outside pressure towards the DPRK could make it less likely to sit down to talks with her new government.

Kim Il-sung statue in Pyongyang, DPRK (Wiki) 

North Korea State Media has reported that personnel involved with the country's Third Nuclear Test will be invited to the capital Pyongyang, "enjoying the privileges and preferential treatment".  The story also includes an interesting animation from a DPRK media outlet, showing a tunnel, a nuclear device, and detonation that looks to show the sequence from the DPRK's recent underground nuclear test. 

 Interesting Links: 
Remnants of the KMT in Laos  : An interesting paper regarding holdouts from the defeated ROC army that moved into Laos and caused headaches for the new People's Republic of China in the 1950s-60s, as well as dabbled in the opium trade.  To make matters more interesting, the CIA is believed to have dabbled in the situation as well.

A Former North Korean Intelligence Agent Opens Restaurant in DC: While this story was printed in 2011, its a fascinating read.

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