Saturday, 31 March 2012




Vibhanshu Shekhar

Research Fellow, Indian Council of World Affairs

Tehelka, March 31, 2012

REPRESENTING FOUR continents, approximately two-fifth of the global population, one-fifth of the global GDP and an enormous amount of daily economic transactions, the BRICS has emerged during the last four years as one of the most powerful voices from the resurgent global South. The BRICS has emerged as the most dynamic economic grouping in the event of continued economic crisis that has engulfed the developed West. While each of the member-states is an important player in their respective regional matrix of power, the strength of the grouping emanates from what it represents, offers, and what it challenges.

First, with the sustained economic growth for a long time along and huge economic resources at its disposal, the BRICS offers an important opportunity to emancipate a large number of under-developed, under-fed and undernourished populations from the global South. It is believed that increased intra-BRICS trade has the potential to reduce poverty in these economies. For example, India can benefit considerably from the technological expertise of China, agricultural skills of Brazil, and South African expertise on non-renewable energy resources.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 30 March 2012


The Guardian


• Satellite images show preparations for long-range launch
• Japan puts self-defence forces on standby to intercept rocket
• South says two short-range missiles launched on Wednesday

Justin McCurry

The Guardian, March 30, 2012

North Korea's test-launch of two short-range missiles this week has raised anxiety levels in the region, as the regime in Pyongyang prepares to defy international opinion with the launch next month of a long-range rocket, which many believe is connected to its ballistic missile programme.

South Korean defence officials said that North Korea had launched two surface-to-ship missiles from a site on its west coast early on Wednesday, a day after world leaders attending a nuclear security summit in Seoul urged the regime to cancel the rocket launch and return to six-party nuclear talks.

North Korea insists that the forthcoming launch, which is expected around 15 April to coincide with the centenary of the birth of the country's founder Kim Il-sung, is designed to put an observation satellite into orbit.

The US, South Korea and Japan, however, say it would be a violation of UN security council resolutions banning North Korea from missile activity, as the same technology could be developed for use in multistage missiles, including those capable of hitting the US mainland.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 29 March 2012


The Diplomat


India's army chief writes a scathing letter to the prime minister about the Indian military. Is he right?

Jason Miks

The Diplomat, March 29, 2012

India’s million man-plus armed forces are unfit to fight a war, according to the country’s army chief. “The army’s tanks have run out of ammunition, the air defense is as good as obsolete and the infantry is short of critical weapons,” Gen. V.K. Singh wrote in a leaked letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, India’s DNA news agency has reported.

Singh is said to have approached the prime minister after failing to get a response from the Defense Ministry. He warns in the letter that the state of India’s military is “alarming,” noting that the country’s air defense is “97 percent obsolete,” while the elite Special Forces are described as “woefully short” of “essential weapons.”

“This news is causing a lot of angst here,” said The Diplomat contributor Manpreet Sethi, who lectures regularly at India’s armed forces training centers. “Reports are pouring in from both sides – those who are angry with the general for allowing such a leak to happen, especially in the wake of allegations over a bribe he supposedly made earlier in the week, and those who believe that the corruption in the system can only be cleansed if such issues come out in the public.”

(...) [artículo aquí]

Saturday, 24 March 2012


The Jakarta Post


Marc Lim (The Straits Times)

The Jakarta Post, March 24, 2012

More than 50 world leaders will gather in South Korea over the next few days ahead of Monday's two-day Nuclear Security Summit.

But unlike the circumstances surrounding the inaugural meeting in 2010 - the aim of which was to highlight the seriousness of nuclear terrorism threats and call for a unified effort to reduce them - the Seoul gathering comes at a time when concerns about another form of nuclear threat are the highest they have ever been.

Scenes of a spewing Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant still haunt many, none more so than the 100,000 people who were displaced from their homes as a result of the triple meltdown at the facility. The disaster led to a wake-up call worldwide, with governments calling for a relook into the safety systems at such facilities.

A year on, the effects of the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986 can still be felt.

In India, mass protests and hunger strikes were staged against proposed plants already under construction. A survey conducted by the Japan Association for Public Opinion Research, released this week, revealed that 80 per cent of Japanese want to phase out the country's reliance on nuclear power, before eventually eliminating it.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 23 March 2012




The first-quarter growth forecast had been cut to around 8 per cent from 8.5 per cent.


Asia One, March 23, 2012

BEIJING - When two of China's most influential government policy think-tanks highlight the risk that growth will weaken on the same day that a widely-watched indicator fails to signal an expected upturn, investors are naturally nervous.

The question is whether a warning by the cabinet's Development Research Centre of the need to prepare for "extreme risks", a State Information Centre assessment growth is slowing faster than thought and a slip in a private sector survey of factory activity signal a significant shift in the economy.

Adding in a risk-laden assessment from a third government think-tank in 24 hours suggest at the very least that investors should be erring on the side of caution given that growth has slowed for four successive quarters and almost certainty slowed again for a fifth.

"If the government does not intervene and accelerate policy easing, growth will continue to slow," is the blunt assessment of Wang Jun, an economist at China Centre for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE).

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 22 March 2012


IFA Online


Douglas Turnbull

IFA Online, March 22, 2012

Few regions polarise investor opinion to such extremes as China. However, the reality has been, and remains, more prosaic than headline writers would have you believe.

This is a reflection on the competence of the leadership in Beijing, which has a formidable track record of successfully implementing appropriate economic policy, walking a fine line between, on the one hand, cooling the economy so it does not overheat and, on the other hand, not cooling so much as to accidentally provoke a hard landing.
Growth slowdown

The first point to make when assessing the prospects for 2012 is that China has come into this year slowing down. It is visible everywhere from headline GDP figures each quarter, through year-on-year indicators such as industrial production, down to anecdotal evidence across a spectrum of companies.

However, much analysis seems to acknowledge this and go no further, foreseeing some inevitable impending doom. Nonetheless, the next question must be asked to have an understanding of how things develop – why is it slowing?

And to that question there is an obvious answer. It is not the decline in demand from China’s end export markets in the West, given that net exports play at most a supporting role to growth.

Rather, it is because policymakers in China have consciously been slowing growth, bringing it back to a sustainable level from what was a stimulated and potentially inflationary level immediately after the financial crisis. They have done so through a combination of retrenching fiscal stimulus and tightening both the cost and quantity of money.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 20 March 2012


The Jakarta Globe


He Fan

The Jakarta Globe, March 20, 2012

A newly released report by the World Bank and the Development Research Center, a prominent think tank in China, warned that by 2025 China’s economic growth rate would decline to an annual average of 5 percent — a sharp fall from the 10 percent average of the last 30 years.

In a widely cited article published in 2011, Liu Shijin, the DRC’s deputy director, also predicted that the average growth rate would fall to 6.7 percent for the period of China’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016 to 2020).

The rapid expansion of China’s economy in the last three decades has incited varied responses: it puzzled the world for the first 10 years, dazzled it for another 10, and is now largely taken for granted. Many people today believe that only China can pull the global economy from recession, and many seem to be counting the days until China’s GDP surpasses that of the US.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 19 March 2012




Michael Heath and Fion Li,

Bloomberg-Business Week, March 19, 2012

China’s lower growth target will still allow one measure of its gross domestic product to exceed the euro area in a few years and match the U.S. economy in a decade, Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens said.

“The slowdown in Chinese growth -- from 10 percent to a mere 8 percent! -- is a major talking point, and some see it as portending a major crash,” Stevens said in a speech in Hong Kong today. “But some slowing was required to reduce inflation and, therefore, put growth on a more sustainable path.”

Stevens’s confidence in China was underscored by the RBA’s decision to pause interest-rate cuts in the past two months even as Australia’s economy grew at half the pace forecast by economists in the final three months of 2011 and unemployment rose last month for the first time since August. The currency has strengthened this year, propelled by a A$456 billion ($484 billion) pipeline of resource projects by companies such as BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) to meet Chinese demand.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Sunday, 18 March 2012


The Dawn DEF


Munir Akram

The Dawn, March 18, 2012

IN recent weeks, there has been considerable prognostication in the western media, think tanks and policy circles about the direction China will take over the next decade, as President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao are replaced by Vice President Xi Jinping and Vice Premier Li Keqiang, and most other members of the nine-member State Council by the ‘fifth generation of leaders’.

As usual, western attention has been directed to China’s internal leadership differences and social and economic problems arising from the rapid economic growth, human rights and democracy activists, China’s military modernisation, its disputes with some neighbouring countries, imputations of unfair trade and exploitative foreign investment.

A week spent in Beijing, coincidentally concurrent with the annual sessions of the National People’s Congress and the CPCC, and informal interactions with serving and former Chinese officials and diplomats, yielded different and more complex conclusions on China’s future policy directions.

The first conclusion is that the main preoccupation of the Chinese authorities is to ensure China’s continued stable growth and development. To achieve this, there will be greater emphasis on more equitable distribution of the benefits of economic expansion rather than only the GDP rise.

The official annual growth rate is projected at the historically slower pace of 7.5 per cent although real growth may continue to be somewhat higher in the immediate future. Reliance on exports and infrastructure investment will be accompanied by a greater focus on mass domestic consumption, specially social services, health and recreation facilities.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Saturday, 17 March 2012




Jason Subler

Reuters, March 17, 2012

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China put rare public pressure on ally North Korea over the reclusive state's plan to launch a long-range rocket which is raising tension in the region and could scupper a recent aid deal with the United States.

The announcement of the launch immediately threw into doubt recent hopes that the new young head of the family dynasty ruling North Korea was ready open up more to the international community.

Experts said the planned launch is clearly a ballistic missile test, banned by U.N. resolutions, and would be in line with North Korea's long practiced diplomacy of using threats to regional security to leverage concessions from the international community, and the United States in particular.

It would also be used to boost the stature of the North's new young leader Kim Jong-un, who took over the family dynasty after his father's death late last year.

Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun expressed China's "worry" when he met North Korean ambassador Ji Jae Ryong on Friday, the Xinhua news agency said.

"We sincerely hope parties concerned stay calm and exercise restraint and avoid escalation of tension that may lead to a more complicated situation," Xinhua on Saturday quoted Zhang as saying.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 14 March 2012




CHINA's Premier Wen Jiabao has issued a dark warning about the urgent need for democratic reforms in the one-party state.

Michael Sainsbury

The Australian, March 14, 2012

Without reform, Mr Wen warned, China risked a repeat of the deadly chaos of the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 70s.

In his final official press conference for a job he has held for the past nine years, Mr Wen promised further reforms for the country's currency, the hot button for anti-China sentiment in the United States, as well as ways to address imbalances between the world's two largest economies.

"I have, on more than one occasion, proposed that (we) must unswervingly implement autonomy for villagers and protect the legitimate rights of villagers to hold direct elections," Mr Wen said. "We should follow this path by encouraging the people to be bold in practice.

"I believe China's democratic system will, in accordance with China's national conditions, develop in a step-by-step way. No force can stop this."

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 13 March 2012




Samuel Lum, CFA

Seeking Alpha, March 13, 2012

Jing Ulrich, J.P. Morgan’s managing director and chairman of global markets for China, began her presentation at the CFA Institute Asia Pacific Investment Conference last week by surveying the audience’s opinion on whether they believed China’s economy would suffer a “hard landing.” Only a few hands went up. Ulrich said she asked the same question of another audience of some 800 people from across the United States the previous week. Only a single hand went up. These results stand in sharp contrast to sentiment from just three months ago, Ulrich said, when about a third of her audiences were expecting a hard landing. The view on China’s macro picture has changed, she said.

China is itself in the midst of transition. On the political front, Vice President Xi Jinping and Vice Premier Li Keqiang are preparing to take over as China’s top leaders later this year. With regard to social reform, new measures to improve education, housing, and quality of life, among other priorities, are being implemented and more are being planned. At the same time, the Chinese economy has already begun rebalancing toward a higher consumption share of gross domestic product (GDP), with much of the growth coming from internal consumer demand rather than exports and fixed asset investments. As Ulrich noted, Premier Wen Jiabao just announced a lower GDP growth target of 7.5% for 2012 at the current National People’s Congress, as China moves into a new era of slower and rebalanced growth that is in line with the 7% average growth target over the period covered by China’s 12th Five Year Plan (of which this KPMG report offers a helpful overview).

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 12 March 2012


FT Adviser


Western investors must pay attention to Asia’s increasing share of a range of global activities

Philip Coggan

FT Adviser, March 12, 2012

When you are investing for the long term, you need to think about long-term trends.

And the likeliest long-term trend is the continued rise of Asia.

In 1970, developing Asia (everything but Japan) produced just 9 per cent of world GDP. By 1990, its share had risen to 14 per cent. Now it is 28 per cent. By 2030, its share is expected to be 40 per cent and by 2050, almost 50 per cent, according to forecasts from the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Currently North America (the US and Canada) has 21.5 per cent of world GDP and western Europe 18.7 per cent. By 2050, their respective shares will be 12.3 per cent and 8.9 per cent. In other words, their contribution will be less than half that of Asia.

Just think about that in terms of world markets. American oil consumption is 19m barrels a day. China consumes just 9m barrels, even with four times as many people. If China’s consumption per capita rose to just half US levels, its total consumption would be 38m barrels a day. The extra 29m barrels a day China would consume is the equivalent of a third of current oil production. And that is before we think about the extra oil that will be needed by the rest of the world. There will be 9bn people on the planet, compared with just 7bn today.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Sunday, 11 March 2012


Associated Press


Malcolm Foster

Associated Press, March 11, 2012

RIKUZENTAKATA, Japan (AP) — People across Japan prayed and stood in silence on Sunday to remember the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck the nation one year ago, killing just over 19,000 people and unleashing the world's worst nuclear crisis in a quarter century.

In the devastated northeastern coastal town of Rikuzentakata, a siren sounded at 2:46 p.m. — the exact time the magnitude-9.0 quake struck on March 11, 2011 — and a Buddhist priest in a purple robe rang a huge bell at a damaged temple overlooking a barren area where houses once stood.

At the same time in the seaside town of Onagawa, people facing the sea pressed their hands together in silent prayer.

Meanwhile, at a memorial service in Tokyo's National Theater, 78-year-old Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko and Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda stood in silence with hundreds of other people dressed in black.

Even in Tokyo's busy shopping district of Shibuya, pedestrians briefly stopped and fell silent before carrying on.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Saturday, 10 March 2012


China Daily


Chen Weihua

China Daily, March 10, 2012

A growing number of Americans are displaying anxiety and pessimism about the perception that the United States is in decline on the world stage.

The media are constantly raising the alarm that the US' privilege and prestige are slipping away, and the great minds of the nation are earnestly debating what that means and what can be done.

All this is understandable in the wake of the global financial crisis, which has placed capitalism under scrutiny, and the US' high unemployment, huge national debt, and ballooning budget deficit.

While spending trillions of dollars on the war on terror in the past decade, the US has failed to address such necessary tasks as upgrading its infrastructure and fixing its education system.

This is in stark contrast to the phenomenal growth achieved in the past decade by emerging countries such as Brazil, Russia, India and China, whose combined GDP is expected to surpass that of the US by 2015.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 9 March 2012


The Economic Times


The Economic Times, March 9, 2012

DUBAI: India, China and South Korea are increasingly focusing on renewable energy sources, including wind and solar, as potential growth sectors for their economies, a World Economic Forum report said today.

The report, Energy for Economic Growth - Energy Vision Update 2012, which provides a framework for understanding the larger economic role of the energy industry, however, added that the higher costs of these technologies create trade-offs that must be considered.

"Energy prices will always be volatile and thus represent a challenge for long-term economic planning," said Kenneth Rogoff, Thomas D Cabot Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Economics, Harvard University, the US.

The question is how to make this volatility less economically damaging, Rogoff, who is part of the WEF advisory board, added.

The oil and gas industry, the report said, contributed 37,000 direct jobs in 2011. This drove the creation of an additional 111,000 indirect jobs during the same period, given an employment multiplier effect of three. These 150,000 jobs represent 9 per cent of all jobs created in the United States in 2011.

While multiplier effects for solar and wind energy were lower during operation, their contribution during the construction phase also reached as high as 3.3 indirect jobs per energy job.

"The energy industry is unique in its economic importance and has the potential to be a tremendous catalyst for job creation and sustainable growth without harming the sector's overall performance," said Chairman Daniel Yergin of IHS CERA, which partnered in the preparation of the WEF report.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 8 March 2012


The Epoch Times


Gao Zitan

The Epoch Times, March 8, 2012

China’s real estate (RE) market is in a downward spiral. A big drop of 30-50 percent this year is not impossible, according to a Chinese economist.

According to data presented by China’s National Bureau of Statistics in January 2012, the overall price of RE in China’s 70 largest and mid-sized cities has dropped four months in a row.

“With the central Communist Party continuing its control policy, and local governments’ attempt of loosening control, where is China’s real estate market heading, and why are prices dropping?” The Epoch Times asked Dr. Jian Tianlun, a former employee at People’s Bank of China and currently an economist in the U.S.

Jian said China’s real estate market has shown clear signs of change since last October. Home prices in more and more cities are dropping. Looking at January’s figures, 48 out of the 70 largest and mid-sized cities have experienced price drops, 22 have remained the same. Overall, RE prices keep dropping, Jian said.

Actually, the change in China’s RE market began much earlier, he said. Sales began decreasing in the middle of last year. It’s just that prices did not drop much at that time. If we trace further back, land prices started declining one or two years prior to the housing decline.

Predicting the near future of China’s RE market, Jian said, most people believe it will continue to drop. How much prices will drop this year may vary significantly in different parts of the country. Overall, Jian predicted a drop of 10-20 percent, with certain places possibly remaining stable and other places doing worse.

“A big drop of 30-50 percent is not impossible,” Jian said.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 7 March 2012


Reuters DEF


Rajesh Kumar Singh and Manoj Kumar

Reuters, March 7, 2012

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The Congress party's drubbing in assembly elections proved beyond doubt that its populist politics failed to resonate with voters, and yet investors and consumers alike are bracing for more of the same from the besieged ruling party.

Hemmed in by maverick allies and the fallout from a slew of corruption scandals, the Congress party-led central government has failed to carry out any meaningful structural reforms since it was re-elected in 2009.

Investors had hoped a strong performance in the elections would ease political constraints on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, giving him room to revisit politically contentious reforms.

"As things stand now, they won't be able to bring any reforms. Their own allies will oppose everything," said D. H. Pai Panandiker, who heads Mumbai-based think-tank RPG Foundation.

Some reforms, such as to land acquisition and foreign investment rules, and the sensitive issue of subsidies on fuel, are crucial to lifting investment and spending in an economy headed for its slowest growth in three years.

Tuesday's poll results, showing Congress fared badly in four of five states, altered the odds of any such push for reforms in the budget.

Rather than becoming the catalyst for a renewed reform push, the state elections would provoke more populism, was the consensus view of analysts.

That is likely to mean more spending on social programmes, such as a pledge to provide universal food security that could bleed public finances but help Congress' general re-election bid in 2014. The budget for the fiscal year that begins April 1 will be unveiled on March 16.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 6 March 2012




George Friedman

Stratfor, March 6, 2012

Simply put, China has three core strategic interests. 

Paramount among them is the maintenance of domestic security. Historically, when China involves itself in global trade, as it did in the 19th and early 20th century, the coastal region prospers, while the interior of China -- which begins about 100 miles from the coast and runs about 1,000 miles to the west -- languishes. Roughly 80 percent of all Chinese citizens currently have household incomes lower than the average household income in Bolivia.

Most of China's poor are located west of the richer coastal region; this disparity of wealth time and again has exposed tensions between the interests of the coast and those of the interior. After a failed rising in Shanghai in 1927, Mao Zedong exploited these tensions by undertaking the Long March into the interior, raising a peasant army and ultimately conquering the coastal region. He shut China off from the international trading system, leaving China more united and equal, but extremely poor.

The current government has sought a more wealth-friendly means of achieving stability: buying popular loyalty with mass employment. Plans for industrial expansion are implemented with little thought to markets or margins; instead, maximum employment is the driving goal. Private savings are harnessed to finance the industrial effort, leaving little domestic capital to purchase the output. China must export accordingly.

China's second strategic concern derives from the first. China's industrial base by design produces more than its domestic economy can consume, so China must export goods to the rest of the world while importing raw materials. The Chinese therefore must do everything possible to ensure international demand for their exports. This includes a range of activities, from investing money in the economies of consumer countries to establishing unfettered access to global sea-lanes.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 5 March 2012

FROM 8% TO 7.5%

LAT logo DEF


David Pierson

Los Angeles Times, March 5, 2012

In a sweeping symbolic gesture, China lowered its growth target for this year, sending its clearest message yet that the world’s second-largest economy could no longer expand at its steroid-charged pace.

Speaking to about 3,000 delegates at the annual meeting of the National People's Congress in Beijing on Monday, Premier Wen Jiabao said China would cut its growth target for the first time in eight years, from 8% to 7.5%, to make the country’s economy more "sustainable and efficient."

Half a percentage point may not seem like much. But in China, it broadcasts a signal to policymakers, both national and local, that development will have to strike a better balance.

Swaths of empty luxury apartment blocks, environmental degradation and violent rural protests over land seizures are just some of the ways ordinary Chinese can point to vast inequities generated by no-holds-barred development.

"The announcement today means China will not simply chase after high-speed growth," said Hu Xingdou, an economist at the Beijing Institute of Technology. "Instead, it will seek high-quality growth."

How much of that scaling-back will be of China’s choosing remains to be seen. A reduced growth rate could owe just as much to deteriorating trade with Europe and investment constraints brought on by rising public debt and inflation.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Sunday, 4 March 2012


Reuters DEF


Chris Buckley

Reuters, March 4, 2012

China will boost military spending by 11.2 percent this year, the government said on Sunday, unveiling Beijing's first defense budget since President Barack Obama launched a policy "pivot" to reinforce U.S. influence across the Asia-Pacific.

The increase announced by parliament spokesman Li Zhaoxing will bring official outlays on the People's Liberation Army to 670.3 billion yuan ($110 billion) for 2012, after a 12.7 percent increase last year and a near-unbroken string of double-digit rises across two decades .

Beijing's public budget is widely thought by foreign experts to undercount its real spending on military modernization, which has unnerved Asian neighbors and drawn repeated calls from Washington for China to share more about its intentions.

Li said the world has nothing to fear, and the money spent on the PLA paled in comparison with the Pentagon's outlays.

"You can see that we have 1.3 billion people with a large land areas and a long coastline, but our outlays on defense are quite low compared to other major countries," Li told a news conference before the annual full session of the National People's Congress, the Communist Party-controlled legislature that will approve the budget.

"China's limited military power is for the sake of preserving national sovereignty, security, and territorial integrity," said Li, a former foreign minister. "Fundamentally, it constitutes no threat to other countries."

Asian neighbors, however, have been nervous about Beijing's expanding military, and this latest double-digit rise could reinforce disquiet in Japan, India, Southeast Asia and self-ruled Taiwan, which China considers part of its territory.

Obama has sought to reassure Asian allies that the United States will stay a key player in the area, and the Pentagon has said it will "rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region".

"Eleven percent, for a Chinese defense budget, is what I would characterize as a reasonably sizeable increase," said C. Uday Bhaskar, a former director of India's Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses in New Delhi.

"It also, I would say, goes beyond the normal pegging we do for inflation, and it would be noted with great interest and concern by China's principal interlocutors," he said.

Obama's proposed budget for the fiscal year of 2013 calls for a Pentagon base budget of $525.4 billion, about $5.1 billion less than approved for 2012.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Saturday, 3 March 2012




Winnipeg Free Press, March 3, 2012

The effort to understand North Korea is something like reading tea leaves. Even the skeptical look for signs of hope, despite the knowledge that the arrangement of personalities (or leaves) may mean nothing at all.

The latest round of speculation was sparked by the encouraging news the Hermit Kingdom has agreed to suspend nuclear weapons tests and uranium enrichment, as well as allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency into the country.

In return, the United States has agreed to deliver food and to improve relations with North Korea.

The Communist dictatorship has made similar gestures of goodwill in the past, only to retreat to its hostile, anti-Western default position. The country test-fired a nuclear weapon six years ago.

The latest goodwill gesture has stirred the teapot with readings that perhaps North Korea wants a new relationship with the West following the death of Kim Jong Il, who was replaced by his son Kim Jong Un. The new Supreme Leader was educated in Switzerland and exposed to other Western influences, leading to speculation the country may be headed on a new path.

In fact, however, the terms of the current agreement were being hammered out before the new leader assumed the throne.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 2 March 2012


The Korea Times


Dale McFeatters

The Korea Times, March 2, 2012

The cartoon strip "Peanuts" left an enduring leitmotif: Lucy would tee up a football and cajole Charlie Brown into kicking it, only to snatch the ball away at the last minute.

That inevitable and predictable outcome could serve as a metaphor for negotiations with North Korea. Desperate for aid, Pyongyang agrees to compromises on its nuclear-weapons program and, once it has the aid, reneges on its promise.

Once again, the U.S. has reached an agreement, very promising on paper, with North Korea. It will suspend major portions of its nuclear-weapons programs, forgo further nuclear tests and long-range-missile tests and allow the return of Western inspectors to verify compliance.

The North Koreans are believed to be capable of producing six to 12 nuclear warheads and to have tested nuclear devices in 2006 and 2009.
Included in the inspections is access to a secretly built nuclear-enrichment facility at Yongbyon that the outside world only found out about in 2010 when the North Koreans unexpectedly revealed its existence.

In return, the U.S. made an initial commitment of 265,000 tons of food aid to North Korea and a pledge of "no hostile intent." Somewhat surprisingly, the North Koreans seem to have agreed to allow monitors to ensure that the aid reaches starving common people, especially women and children, instead of the party elite and military.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 1 March 2012




Roxana Tiron and Nicole Gaouette

Bloomberg, March 1, 2012

North Korea agreed to a moratorium on nuclear tests and long-range missile launches in an accord with the U.S. that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called a “modest step in the right direction.”

The government in Pyongyang will also halt uranium enrichment at its facility in Yongbyon and permit verification by international inspectors, according to statements released yesterday by both countries. Further talks will be held on implementing the terms, which also call for the U.S. to provide food aid to North Korea.

The accord came out of talks between the U.S. and North Korea in Beijing on Feb. 23 and Feb. 24, the first since dictator Kim Jong Il died in December and his son, Kim Jong Un, inherited leadership of the impoverished, nuclear-armed country.

The new leader is following the “exact playbook” of alternating confrontations and negotiations established by his father and his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, according to David Maxwell, associate director of the Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University in Washington.

“I do not see this as any kind of change or breakthrough,” Maxwell said yesterday in an interview, adding that North Korea was angling for food aid.

The U.S. agreed to make final plans to provide an initial 240,000 metric tons of food aid, to be provided in 20,000-ton increments every month for a year, with the “prospect of additional assistance based on continued need,” according to a State Department statement.

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said yesterday in an e- mailed statement that the talks “offered a venue for sincere and in-depth discussion” of measures to build confidence and improve relations.

(...) [artículo aquí]