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  • Author: Ji-Young Lee, David C. Kang
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The final quarter of 2007 was eventful and left observers in both Japan and South Korea cautiously optimistic about bilateral relations. Both Japan and South Korea chose new chief executives this fall, and both of them promised to search for more collaboration and to begin repairing relations between the two countries. Halting progress on North Korean denuclearization through the Six-Party Talks led to hope that momentum could be sustained, although Japan for the time being has chosen to be supportive but skeptical of North Korea's promise to denuclearize, and continued its sanctions against the DPRK. Indeed, North Korea's missed deadline for declaring its nuclear programs was a reminder that progress in relations with North Korea is never straightforward or easy. Although no country has decided to forego the process, it is unclear how relations between North Korea and other states in the region will evolve in 2008.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Japan, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Ralph A. Cossa, Brad Glosserman
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: “It is always darkest just before the dawn of a new day” goes the old saying. Well, it looks pretty dark when it comes to U.S.-DPRK relations and the prospects for the Six-Party Talks, with no significant progress reported this quarter in the quest for a “complete and correct declaration” of North Korea's nuclear programs and activities. Hope springs eternal, however, as both sides continued to work toward a much needed “third breakthrough” in the next quarter.
  • Political Geography: North Korea
  • Author: Victor D. Cha
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The major event of the first quarter of 2008 was the inauguration of a new government in South Korea. The Lee Myung-bak government offered some initial signals of the types of policies it intends to pursue both on and off the peninsula. While there is much that was accomplished under the Roh Moo-hyun government in U.S.-ROK relations, most experts agree that the overall tone between the new Lee government and the Bush administration will improve considerably. Meanwhile, U.S.-DPRK relations in the context of the Six-Party Talks remain stuck on completing the second phase of the denuclearization agreement, despite some audibles by the U.S. team in conjunction with the Chinese. While we may be in the first quarter of the year, it may be the last quarter for the six-party process absent any progress.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Scott Snyder
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The South Korean political transition to a new administration under President Lee Myung-bak catalyzed diplomatic contacts designed to size up the new leader and to establish the foundations for a new era in the Sino-South Korean relationship. Accompanying this transition, Beijing redoubled efforts to manage relations with Pyongyang through high-level party-to-party exchanges with Kim Jong-il. Chinese food assistance to North Korea and the North Korean commitments in the Six-Party Talks framework to declare nuclear-related programs dominated conversations with the Dear Leader. The rise in “fly-by-night” departures of South Korean small investors from China resulting from rising Chinese labor costs and changing incentives for investments in China requires diplomatic management between Beijing and Seoul. Finally, “yellow dust,” Tibet, Taiwan, and quality controls on food exports to Korea are nagging issues that cloud the relationship.
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan, Beijing, South Korea, North Korea, Korea, Pyongyang
  • Author: Ji-Young Lee, David C. Kang
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Despite the change in Japanese leadership from hard-liner Abe Shintaro to the more dialogue-oriented Fukuda Yasuo, this quarter's Japan-North Korea relations were largely uneventful and produced little progress. Tokyo criticized Pyongyang for missing the year-end deadline for declaring all its nuclear programs and facilities, urging North Korea to make a “political decision” to fulfill its commitment under the Six-Party Talks agreement. Pyongyang reiterated that Japan should be excluded from the talks, and blamed Japan for the U.S. failure to remove Pyongyang from its list of state sponsors of terror. North Korea asserted that there would be no improvement in their bilateral relations as long as Japan continues to press resolution of the abduction issue on Pyongyang. By mid-March, Tokyo had decided to extend economic sanctions against Pyongyang for another six months after they expire April 13, if the current situation continues with no breakthroughs. Meanwhile, with the change in South Korean leadership from a liberal-minded Roh Moo-hyun to the more conservative Lee Myung-bak, Tokyo exerted diplomatic efforts to bring South Korea closer to Japan by trying to form a united front between Japan, South Korea, and the U.S. against North Korea.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Tokyo, Pyongyang
  • Author: Ralph A. Cossa, Brad Glosserman
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: After eight months of inaction, there was a flurry of six-party action at quarter's end. As Pyongyang produced its long-awaited declaration of its nuclear activities, President Bush announced his intention to remove North Korea from the U.S. listing of state sponsors of terrorism and Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA) restrictions. Pyongyang responded with a made-for-TV demolition of the cooling tower at its Yongbyon nuclear facility. Elsewhere, respective reactions to natural disasters showed how far China has come and Myanmar/Burma still has to go in dealing with the outside world. There was a generally positive reaction to Secretary Gates' Shangri-La statements on U.S. East Asia policy and toward the two U.S. presidential candidates (or their surrogates) early pronouncements about Asia as well. In contrast, there has been almost no reaction at all to Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's call for a more inclusive Asia-Pacific community.
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea, Burma, Myanmar, Pyongyang
  • Author: Bonnie Glaser
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Major developments in Sino-U.S. relations took place on the economic, military, and political fronts this quarter. The fourth U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue was held in Annapolis, Maryland, June 17-18, yielding a 10-year energy and environment cooperation framework. A telephone link was installed between the U.S. Department of Defense and China's Ministry of Defense and talks were launched on nuclear policy and strategy. The U.S. and China held a round of their bilateral dialogue on human rights after a hiatus of six years and vice-foreign minister level talks on security issues were held for the first time in four years. The U.S. provided assistance to China to ensure the security of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. A massive 7.9 magnitude earthquake rocked China's southwestern Sichuan Province and the U.S., along with the rest of the international community, provided aid. Secretary of State Rice visited the quake-hit area and held talks in Beijing focused on North Korea.
  • Political Geography: China, Beijing, North Korea, Maryland
  • Author: Aidan Foster-Carter
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Rarely does the political weather change so abruptly with the calendar as it has in Korea during the past quarter. As we reported in our last issue, North Korea chose April 1 – April Fools' day – to finally break its long silence on the South's new leader Lee Myung-bak, who was elected president last December 19 and took office on February 25. With rare restraint, Pyongyang had kept its counsel for several months since Lee – a former mayor of Seoul, ex-Hyundai CEO and self-described pragmatic conservative – was elected president by a large majority on a platform of mending fences with the U.S. and curbing Seoul's “sunshine” policy of the past decade. Though ready to expand inter-Korean dealings on his own terms – as in his Vision 3000 program, which offered to triple North Korean national income to US$3,000 per head – Lee insisted on linking any increased cooperation to progress on the North's nuclear disarmament.
  • Political Geography: North Korea, Korea, Pyongyang
  • Author: Scott Snyder
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Lee Myung-bak administration committed to the establishment of a “strategic cooperative partnership” with China during Lee's inaugural visit to Beijing as the new president of South Korea. The visit occurred on schedule in late May, coming only weeks after the tragic Sichuan earthquake and in the midst of protests in South Korea over Lee's decision to allow imports of U.S. beef. Those events also quickly overshadowed a late April flap during the Olympic torch relay in Seoul over Chinese students who came to cheer the torch but reacted violently to Korean groups protesting Chinese government treatment of refugees and political suppression in Tibet. PRC Vice President Xi Jinping, China's designated successor to President Hu Jintao, made his maiden international visit to Pyongyang where he met with North Korea's top leaders, including Kim Jong-il and affirmed the importance of the Sino-DPRK relationship. As host of the Six-Party Talks, China received North Korea's declaration of its nuclear programs on June 26 in what really was a formality given the critical role of U.S.-DPRK talks in paving the way for the declaration. Nevertheless, the submission of the declaration did set the stage for the reactivation of Six-Party Talks in Beijing. Hyundai-Kia opened a new factory in Beijing and SK Telecom responded to strategic changes in China's telecommunications market by diversifying its investments in various Chinese multimedia companies in pursuit of a “convergence strategy” for delivery of multimedia, computer, and telecommunications applications to Chinese consumers.
  • Political Geography: China, Beijing, South Korea, North Korea, Pyongyang
  • Author: Ji-Young Lee, David C. Kang
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Japan's relations with both North and South Korea improved over the past quarter. In conjunction with the North's June declaration of its nuclear activities, there was renewed momentum in resolving the two biggest pending bilateral issues between Tokyo and Pyongyang – the North's nuclear development program and the abduction issue. Bilateral talks resumed in mid-June after more than six months of no progress. The second quarter also marked a fresh start for Tokyo and Seoul as President Lee's Myung-bak's visit to Japan – the first since December 2004 by a South Korean president – marked the resumption of so-called “shuttle diplomacy.” The summit between Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo and President Lee produced agreements on several bilateral issues, including the stalled bilateral FTA negotiations, closer coordination on policy regarding North Korea's nuclear development program, and youth exchanges.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Japan, South Korea, North Korea