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  • Author: Victor D. Cha, Ellen Kim
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The most significant news in early 2012 centered on North Korea's rocket launch. In a slightly different twist to the pattern, this latest provocation came just two weeks after reaching what seemed to be a new deal with the US to freeze its missile and nuclear programs in exchange for food assistance. After Pyongyang went ahead with the launch in defiance of its international agreements and its so-called “Leap Day” deal with the US, it felt like Groundhog Day. The question soon became how soon a nuclear test might be in the offing. Meanwhile, the KORUS FTA finally took effect after seven years of deliberation, and US sanctions on Iran and US beef imports to the ROK also reemerged as issues for the relationship.
  • Political Geography: United States, North Korea
  • Author: Catharin Dalpino
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: US attention in Southeast Asia was focused on two sides of the region: in the east on tensions in the South China Sea between China and the Philippines, which have energized the US-Philippine alliance; and in the west on the impact of the April by-elections in Burma, which have the paved the way for a quantum leap in US engagement with the country. Beneath these headlines, attacks and explosions in Thailand and the Philippines were a reminder that terrorism is still a serious threat. Policy debate in the region over the US “pivot” to Asia was stimulated by a US request to double the number of littoral combat ships to be docked at Singapore as ell as b discussion between Washington and Manila on the rotation of US troops through Philippine bases. Both represent modest steps toward a configuration of “flexible bases” in Southeast Asia. Also, there will be an unprecedented number of US joint exercises and other forms of military cooperation in 2012, suggesting the “pivot” is an ongoing and incremental process that has been underway for years.
  • Political Geography: Burma, Thailand, Southeast Asia, South China
  • Author: Robert Sutter, Chin-Hao Huang
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Chinese interchange with Southeast Asia featured President Hu Jintao's visit to Cambodia beginning on March 29, displaying positive diplomacy laced with economic incentives. The unusual high-level attention to Cambodia was related to China's efforts to manage disputes with Southeast Asian claimants in the South China Sea and Cambodia's appointment as the chair of ASEAN. Hu left the country on April 2 with the reassurance that Cambodia would follow China's preference and keep the South China Sea issue off the official agenda of an ASEAN Summit convening in Phnom Penh on April 3 and at other ASEAN gatherings later in the year.
  • Political Geography: Cambodia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: David G. Brown
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: In January, President Ma Ying-jeou won re-election and the KMT retained its majority in the legislature. Voters endorsed Ma's gradual approach to developing constructive relations with the Mainland. In Beijing, the outcome validated President Hu's “peaceful development” policies. Both sides have indicated there will be continuity in cross-strait relations with a focus on a busy economic agenda. While understanding the domestic factors constraining Ma's willingness to discuss political issues, Beijing has emphasized the importance of building political trust and strengthening a common Chinese heritage. Meanwhile, the DPP's defeat has provoked an internal debate on the party's policy toward Beijing but no clear picture has emerged on whether or how party policy might eventually change.
  • Topic: Disaster Relief
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan
  • Author: Aidan Foster-Carter
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Covering inter-Korean relations for Comparative Connections has been a roller-coaster ride, given the peninsula's changeable political weather. Even so, the current state of affairs is unprecedented. Pyongyang has spent the whole of 2012 hurling ever ruder and angrier jibes at ROK President Lee; plumbing the depths even by North Korean standards. In April, KCNA published and trumpeted a set of vicious cartoons that depict Lee as a rat being gorily done to death. From the viewpoint of inter-Korean relations, the past four months essentially saw almost no interaction except this one-sided name-calling. Unsurprisingly Seoul did have a few words to say in response, which only served to rile Pyongyang more. Wading through filth is no fun, but duty must be done as we describe and try to interpret North Korea's slander campaign, which showed ominous signs of escalating from words to deeds. In some obscure way, one intended function may be to boost the callow Kim Jong Un, so we also briefly report his formal accession to the DPRK's top leadership posts.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: North Korea, Pyongyang
  • Author: Scott Snyder, See-Won Byun
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: China and South Korea have designated 2012 as a year of friendship to mark 20 years of diplomatic relations. The anniversary may provide a pretext for more active diplomacy to meet a growing list of potential disputes in the relationship, including China's handling of North Korean refugees, illegal fishing in Korean territorial waters, territorial claims, and mutual suspicions regarding approaches toward North Korea. All of this is occurring in a period of political transition in both countries, as South Korea prepares for December elections while China works out a complex leadership transition later this year. Presidents Hu Jintao and Lee Myung-bak have held two summits this year, in Beijing in January and in Seoul on March 26 on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit. On his state visit to China from Jan. 9-11, Lee also met Premier Wen Jiabao and top legislator Wu Bangguo. Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi met President Lee and ROK counterpart Kim Sung-hwan on March 2 during his visit to Seoul for annual inter¬ministerial consultations. The two foreign ministers also met in Ningbo, China, on April 8 for the sixth China-ROK-Japan Foreign Ministers Meeting. Sino-South Korean diplomatic exchanges have sharpened attention on the prospects for the bilateral partnership in the aftermath of Kim Jong Il's death
  • Political Geography: Japan, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: James J. Przystup
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: With both Tokyo and Beijing intent on celebrating the 40th anniversary of normalization, bilateral relations started well in 2012 – and quickly went downhill. Contested history retuned in a controversy sparked by Nagoya Mayor Kawamura Takashi's remarks questioning the reality of the Nanjing massacre. Repeated incidents in the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands involving ships of China's State Oceanic Administration Agency and Japan's Coast Guard kept the volatile issue of sovereignty claims politically alive. Both sides engaged in island naming games to enhance sovereignty and EEZ claims in the region. In April, Tokyo Gov. Ishihara Shintaro announced plans for the Tokyo Municipal Government to purchase three of the Senkaku Islands. With that, the relationship moved into May and Prime Minister Noda's visit to China.
  • Political Geography: China, Tokyo
28. Sisyphus
  • Author: David C. Kang, Jiun Bang
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The most dramatic events affecting relations in early 2012 concerned North Korea. The power transition appears to be proceeding smoothly, although mixed signals give signs that a clear foreign policy has not yet been worked out by the leadership in Pyongyang. Meanwhile, relations between South Korea and Japan continued on their seemingly disconnected tracks. In economic relations and day-to-day issues, they continue to move closer together on issues from dealing with tax evasion to joint disaster relief planning. Yet, territorial claims or claims about history are a constant irritant that threaten to derail relations at any time. Both sides seemingly wanted relations to worsen by picking fights over Dokdo/Takshima and making claims about history. One could dismiss the squabbling as peripheral to the main relationship, but these disputes hinder coordination and planning over important issues, divert diplomatic attention, and remain salient for domestic politics of both sides.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: South Korea, North Korea, Pyongyang
  • Author: Yu Bin
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: By any standard, the first four months were a rough start to the year for both Russia and China. While succession politics gripped first Russia and then China, Moscow and Beijing coordinated closely over the crises beyond their borders (Syria, Iran, and North Korea). Toward the end of April, the Russian and Chinese navies held the largest joint bilateral exercise in seven years, codenamed Maritime Cooperation-2012 (海上联合-2012; Morskoye Vzaimodeystviye-2012), in the Yellow Sea. Meanwhile, China's future premier Li Keqiang traveled to Moscow to meet Russia's future-and-past President Putin in Moscow.
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Moscow, Syria
  • Author: Ralph A. Cossa, Brad Glosserman
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The only good news to report when it comes to Korean Peninsula denuclearization is the absence of any new really bad news over the past four months. North Korea's widely predicted (including by us) third nuclear test or follow-on missile launch did not occur. No one anticipated any serious movement toward resumption of the stalled Six-Party Talks, and those expectations were met. The biggest multilateral surprise came from ASEAN, which for the first time in its 45-year history, concluded its annual ministerial meeting without issuing a chairman's statement or communiqué. The ministers at the follow-on ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) did produce a summary, which once again highlighted the need for broader multilateral cooperation throughout the region, including the South China Sea. Economic ministers were equally productive in meetings in August, when among things they launched the first East Asian Summit Economic Ministers Meeting and the inaugural ASEAN-US Business Summit.
  • Topic: Disaster Relief
  • Political Geography: China, East Asia, North Korea