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  • Author: Victor D. Cha, Ellen Kim
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The second quarter saw a series of major events in US-ROK relations. With the sinking of the Cheonan in late March, the quarter saw the possible return to armed conflict in Korea. The North Korean torpedo attack on the South Korean warship caused the two Koreas to break ties, intensified the tension along the border, and blasted hopes for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks. Meanwhile, the US-ROK alliance was at its zenith as the US showed solidarity with South Korea on its response to the provocation and put pressure on China to support a strong UN Security Council measure identifying North Korea as being responsible for the attack. The two presidents announced a delay in transfer of wartime operational control and President Obama, in a surprise announcement on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Toronto, called for ratification of the KORUS FTA. Though these two developments were not a direct result of the Cheonan sinking, they were influenced by a desire by both allies to show strong, deep partnership in the face of North Korean threats, and perhaps more important, by a personal chemistry between the two leaders that is unique in the history of the alliance.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, South Korea, North Korea, Korea, Toronto
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Korea
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Robert Sutter, Chin-Hao Huang
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao traveled to the remote Myanmar capital during a swing through Asia in May and June, marking the first official visit by a Chinese premier in 16 years. Wen had planned to visit Brunei, Myanmar, and Indonesia in April but was compelled to cancel that trip due to a major earthquake in Qinghai province. Vice President Xi Jinping advanced Chinese relations with a visit to Australia, New Zealand and Laos in mid-June. Chinese officials and authoritative media generally avoided taking sides in the deepening and increasingly violent internal crisis in Thailand. A variety of reporting and private disclosures by Vietnamese officials indicated more serious Sino-Vietnamese frictions over disputed claims in the South China Sea than previously indicated. Maneuvers by Chinese naval forces over disputed territories and related claims caught the attention of regional observers and the US, deepening concerns regarding Chinese objectives.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, Vietnam, Australia, Thailand, Southeast Asia, New Zealand, Myanmar
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Aidan Foster-Carter
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: To state what in my country we call the bleedin' obvious, this was the worst quarter in inter-Korean relations of the near-decade (starting in 2001) that Comparative Connections has been covering this relationship. On the rare occasions when the peninsula makes global headlines, or even more rarely moves markets, it tends not to be good news. Thus it was on May 24-25, when for the first time in many years the world seriously wondered whether the two Koreas might go to war again – almost 60 years after they fatefully did so the first time. Fortunately both backed away from the brink. On closer inspection there was both more and less to this than at first met the eye. But it was a perilous moment; and though it now seems to have passed, it leaves North-South relations in a pit from which no easy exit is apparent. The cause, of course, is the sinking of the ROK corvette Cheonan on March 26. Yet this did not erupt as a crisis until late May. The course of those two months is fascinating in its own right, and has been under-examined in the welter of comment and controversy. It reveals, we suggest, an odd mix of tactical skill and strategic flailing by Seoul. As of early July, with ROK President Lee Myung-bak still smarting from an unexpected rebuff in local elections a month ago, one must conclude that North Korea's torpedo scored a bulls-eye. Despite delivering a remarkable economic recovery and chairing the G20, “bulldozer” Lee is now on the back foot: just as Kim Jong-il intended. It was nasty and negative, but it worked. In Pyongyang's eyes, this counts as a win – even though from any sensible perspective it is a loss for both Koreas, and their relations.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: South Korea, North Korea, Sinai Peninsula
  • Author: Scott Snyder
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The March 26 sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in the West Sea that killed 46 soldiers served as the backdrop for a series of high-level exchanges between China and the two Koreas as China came under international pressure to provide a tough response to the incident. Kim Jong-il paid an “unofficial” visit to China on May 3-7 and met President Hu Jintao in Beijing, days after ROK President Lee Myung-bak's summit with Hu. Kim's delegation included senior officials from the Foreign Ministry, Worker's Party of Korea, and the DPRK Cabinet. Lee attended the April 30 opening ceremony of the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, where President Hu also met the DPRK's top legislator Kim Yong Nam. Lee and Hu held another round of bilateral talks on the sidelines of the G20 Summit on June 26 in Toronto, where they pledged to strengthen the China-ROK strategic cooperative partnership despite unresolved tensions over North Korea. Premier Wen Jiabao paid a three-day visit to South Korea on May 28-30 and met President Lee in Seoul prior to the third China-ROK-Japan trilateral meeting in Jeju. Foreign Ministers Yu Myung-hwan and Yang Jiechi also held talks on the sidelines of the fourth trilateral foreign ministers meeting with Japan on May 15-16 in Gyeongju.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, North Korea, Korea
  • Author: Scott Snyder, See-Won Byun
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Top-level diplomacy between Beijing and Pyongyang intensified this quarter in honor of China-DPRK Friendship Year and the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations. Prior to the Lunar New Year holiday in mid-January, Kim Jong-il held his first public meeting since his reported illness with Chinese Communist Party International Liaison Department Head Wang Jiarui. In March, DPRK Prime Minister Kim Yong-il paid a return visit to Beijing. The Chinese have accompanied these commemorative meetings with active diplomatic interaction with the U.S., South Korea, and Japan focused on how to respond to North Korea's launch of a multi-stage rocket. Thus, China finds itself under pressure to dissuade Pyongyang from destabilizing activity and ease regional tensions while retaining its 60-year friendship with the North. Meanwhile, South Korean concerns about China's rise are no longer confined to issues of economic competitiveness; the Korea Institute for Defense Analysis has produced its first public assessment of the implications of China's rising economic capabilities for South Korea's long-term security policies. The response to North Korea's rocket launch also highlights differences in the respective near-term positions of Seoul and Beijing. Following years of expanding bilateral trade and investment ties, the global financial crisis provides new challenges for Sino-ROK economic relations: how to manage the fallout from a potential decline in bilateral trade and the possibility that domestic burdens will spill over and create new strains in the relationship.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Beijing, South Korea, North Korea, Korea, Pyongyang
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Jan. 1, 2009: Hu Jintao and Kim Jong-il exchange New Year messages and pledge closer China-DPRK ties. Jan. 2, 2009: ROK Ministry of Strategy and Finance says South Korea will implement anti-dumping duties on Chinese and Taiwanese polyester yarn for the next three years. Jan. 5, 2009: ROK Unification Ministry says the current slowdown in North Korean defectors to South Korea is partly due to tightened border controls in China. Jan. 5, 2009: SAIC injects $45 million into Ssangyong and resumes negotiations with Korea Development Bank over a possible restructuring plan. Jan. 7, 2009: The Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention heightens bird flu warnings after a teenager in Beijing is suspected of dying from the virus on Jan. 6. Jan. 9, 2009: China's Assistant Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue visits Pyongyang to discuss 60th anniversary-related exchanges. Jan. 9, 2009: Ssangyong Motor Co. files for court protection from creditors. The board reconvenes in Shanghai to finalize restructuring plans. Jan. 9-12, 2009: A Chinese Foreign Ministry delegation visits Pyongyang for 60th anniversary celebrations of China-DPRK diplomatic relations. Jan. 11, 2009: The North Korean consulate general in Shenyang opens its branch office in Dandong city bordering North Korea.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Korea
  • Author: James J. Przystup
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The year 2008 ended with reports that China would begin construction of two conventionally powered aircraft carriers, while February brought news that China was planning to construct two nuclear-powered carriers. January marked the first anniversary of the contaminated gyoza controversy and despite concerted efforts to find the source of the contamination and the interrogation of several suspects, Chinese officials reported that the investigation was back at square one. Meanwhile, efforts to implement the June 2008 Japan-China joint agreement on the development of natural gas fields in the East China Sea made little progress and the long-standing territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands found its way into the headlines following Prime Minister Aso's February visit to Washington. In mid-March, China's defense minister confirmed to his Japanese counterpart Beijing's decision to initiate aircraft carrier construction.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Washington, Beijing