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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Korea

China, being hesitant to take stringent measures to contain North Korea's nuclear activity has parted the tent for the camel's nose. Condi Rice has now promised the full complement of American defense --what's left of it-- to Japan and other Asian allies if they will take on North Korea's nuclear development (or support proposed U.N. sanctions). To Japan; imagine the irony of the U.S. defending them against nukes.

"The United States has the will and the capability to meet the full range, and I underscore full range, of its deterrent and security commitments to Japan," Rice told a news conference in Tokyo, the first stop on a quick tour of North Asia.
Though the U.S. may well have less than mighty military heft these days, the situation may provide a face saving excuse to cut and run out of Iraq. One of the nightime TV wags (I think it was Jay Leno) remarked last week that of course the Bush administration won't intervene in N. Korea because they do have weapons of mass destruction.

Korea's first nuclear test may have been a dud, but the announcement that they'll try again a few times have a lot of hackles up. Asian powers, always professing be eager to diminish American influence on the area, should be stepping up to the plate here. They well may be, in the Asian manner of quiet behind-the-scenes diplomacy. Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan is reported to be visiting North Korea today.

The response to the Secretary of State's proposals will reveal whether or not Asian nations, particularly China and Japan, will take or support action to influence North Korea's nuclear development. It was an inspired move in the deadly game. Condi was in top form. However, Asians tend to operate in a more moderate and face-saving manner and are offended by big-stick pronouncements. The question is, can moderation and face address this hornet's nest effectively? The answer to that question will define the balance or imbalance of power in the East.

North Korea's Kim Jong Il is a dangerous nut case with a loaded bomb. Since CBS is reporting that the situation between Taiwan and Beijing is at a measured detente, with China tolerating the status quo with its biggest investor, it appears that Beijing could now deal difinitively with Korea. If it wanted to.

If you're not familiar with the geography, take a look at a map: Korea is a peninsula off China's eastern seaboard. P'yongyang and Beijing are only about 500 miles apart. Last week the Chinese army erected a barbed wire fence along the border, presumably to prevent refugees from entering China if North Korea collapses.

Now that China is a global player economically, does it have the political will to deal with its own neighbor and beneficiary? If it leaves it to Japan, S.Korea and the U.S., we should brook no more Chinese complaints about American hegemony.

Follow the money on this one.

// posted by Ellen @  11:26   //Permalink// 
Ellen says hey
Mainer, New Yawka, Beijinger, Californian, points between. News, views and ballyhoos that piqued my interest and caused me to sigh, cry, chuckle, groan or throw something.


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