Category Archives: North Korea Nuclear Test Site

China’s hold over ‘Rocket Man’ is key to avoiding nuclear war in East Asia

 

US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un are playing a dangerous game of brinkmanship while also trading personal insults.

 

Most recently, Trump blasted the “Rocket Man” in his inaugural speech to the United Nations, promising to “totally destroy” North Korea if it threatens the U.S. or its allies. The Trump Administration also added new sanctions aimed at strangling its ability to work with banks.

Kim, for his part, resorted to calling Trump “mentally deranged” and a “dotard,” while his foreign minister threatened to test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific.

 

With tensions escalating, it is important to be realistic about how we can get out of this mess.

 

In short, any nonmilitary solution will rely on China choosing to apply its massive economic leverage over the North Korean regime. In a positive sign, China’s central bank recently told Chinese financial companies to stop doing business with North Korea.

 

Overall, however, it appears that China has increased its trade with North Korea in recent years while doing fairly little to forestall North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. China’s foremost objective seems to be promoting greater stability from its volatile neighbor, in part because it fears being faced with a massive humanitarian crisis should the regime collapse.

 

But while the poor quality of the data hinders a detailed analysis, a quick look shows just how much leverage China has, if it wishes to use it.

 

 

North Korea’s primary patron

 

In general, exports from one country to another can be mostly explained by the distance between them and the sizes of their markets, a pattern that holds for China and North Korea.

 

Geographically, they share a long border, which makes China a natural, though not inevitable, partner for trade. As a case in point, North Korea also shares a long border with South Korea, but these countries have almost no trade between them. In addition, North Korea shares a small border with Russia, with whom it has little, though ever-increasing, trade.

 

China’s large market, proximity and – most importantly – willingness to trade with North Korea has led to a situation in which North Korea has become highly dependent on trade with what has become its primary patron. About half of North Korean exports and imports go directly to and from China and most of the rest of its trade is handled indirectly by Chinese middlemen.

 

North Korea’s dependence on its neighbor has grown alongside China’s increasing economic dominance of East Asia, which gained momentum 15 years ago when China joined the World Trade Organization. Since then, both Chinese gross domestic product as well as its annual trade with North Korea have increased nearly tenfold, to around US$11 trillion and $6 billion, respectively.

 

North Korea imports nearly everything from China, from rubber tires to refined petroleum to pears, with no single category dominating. Meanwhile, coal constitutes about 40 percent of North Korean exports to China.

 

Time to use that leverage?

 

However, recent events – such as the use of front companies by Chinese firms to evade sanctions imposed on North Korea and China’s reluctance to cut off energy supplies to the country – have led to some uncertainty about the extent to which China is willing to use this economic leverage to rein in North Korea’s military ambitions.

 

On one hand, China previously claimed to have stopped coal imports from North Korea as part of recent efforts to punish the regime for missile tests and the suspected assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. This was an important signal of China’s willingness to support U.S. concerns about the missile program since oil represents about a third ($930 million) of North Korea’s import revenue.

 

On the other hand, there is evidence that coal shipments in fact never ceased. And, in any case, China may have increased its imports of iron ore from North Korea to offset the lost coal revenues.

 

This is consistent with the idea that China carefully considers the resources and revenue that are available to the North Korean regime at any moment, and uses trade as a lever to control them. In this way, China walks a fine line between providing too many resources, and thus allowing the regime to prosper, and not enough resources, such that North Korea is in danger of collapsing. Ultimately, trade may be used as a lever to do some light scolding, but China’s overwhelming concern is preventing North Korea’s collapse.

 

Further evidence that China has tight control over the North Korean economy comes from a recent report from C4ADS. The research group found close, and often common, ownership ties between most of the major Chinese companies who do business with North Korea. This suggests that trade with North Korea is highly centralized and thus easily controlled.

 

Russia: North Korea’s other ‘friend’

 

China is not the only country that North Korea trades with, though the others currently pale in comparison. Other top export destinations include India ($97.8 million), Pakistan ($43.1 million) and Burkina Faso ($32.8 million). In terms of imports, India ($108 million), Russia ($78.3 million) and Thailand ($73.8 million) currently sell the most to North Korea.

 

Russia in particular may soon complicate U.S. efforts to isolate the regime. While still small, Russian trade with North Korea increased 73 percent over the first two months of 2017 compared with the same period of the previous year.

 

But whereas China is legitimately worried that an economic crisis in North Korea could lead to a flood of refugees or all-out war, Russia likely sees engagement with North Korea in much simpler terms, namely as an additional way to gain geopolitical advantage relative to the U.S.

 

A way out?

 

Nearly all experts agree that there is no easy way to “solve” the North Korea problem. However, one plausible approach is to encourage South Korea and Japan to begin to develop nuclear weapons programs of their own, and to only discontinue these programs if China takes meaningful steps to use its trade with North Korea to reign in the regime.

 

Threatening to introduce new nuclear powers to the world is clearly risky, however stable and peaceful South Korea and Japan currently are. But China is highly averse to having these economic and political rivals acquire nuclear capabilities, as it would threaten China’s ongoing pursuit of regional control. In short, this is a sensitive pressure point that could be used to sway the Chinese leadership.

 

The Conversation logo

 

One way or another, China must become convinced that the costs of propping up the North Korean regime through trade are higher than the costs of an increased probability that the regime will collapse.

 


This is an updated version of an article originally published on July 6, 2017.

 

Greg Wright, Assistant Professor of Economics, University of California, Merced

 

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Top SECRET VIDEO – US Ballistic Missiles that can END the North Korea in 30 Minutes

“Preparation for War With USA is Complete”, North Korea Confirms (5 Pics)

 

After the latter sent the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier with its battle group to the waters off the Korean peninsula, North Korea has made a decision to stand against any further moves by the US. Amongst the other things, this issue seems to be taking up even more heat and tensions between the two nations.

Warning

The consequences will be catastrophic if further provoked by the US following their step of sending the navy battle group, said Pyongyang.

Donald Trump said to solve the problem of North Korea if China doesn’t help to put pressure on its neighbor to stop all missile and nuclear weapons programs they developed.

Tensions increase

The actual decision to send the aircraft carrier and battleships to the Korean peninsula came after tensions increased over previous military drills involving American and South Korean forces, which Pyongyang terms as a performance test for an invasion.

A state-run Korean Central News Agency quoted, “We will hold the US wholly accountable for the catastrophic consequences to be entailed by its outrageous actions.”

Donald Trump’s tweet

Donald Trump used his Twitter to communicate his latest warning aimed at the Pyongyang.

“Most of the US national security establishment accepted that any preventative strike aimed at North Korean nuclear facilities could trigger devastating reprisals against South Korea, Seoul in particular, and US bases in the region. US strike against a Syrian base was also being seen as a warning to North Korea.”

Breaking a UN resolutions

Reports claim that the difficult situation escalated after North Korea refused to obey UN resolutions banning it from developing ballistic missile technology. After that, the Korean nation did another test-launch during Trump’s summit with Xi Jinping in Florida.

Chinese authorities report

The Chinese Foreign officials have ruled down the claims that Beijing has situated 150,000 troops to its border with North Korea. Hua Chunying told reporters that she was uniformed of any mobilization by the People’s Liberation Army along the 880-mile border with North Korea and also claimed such reports are false.

She added that China was very closely following developments on the Korean peninsula.

We only hope that all involved sides should avoid doing any activities that could escalate the tension and make it even worse.

Images source: unknownfacts.info

Exposed ´´US War with North Korea Is No Joke At All`

War with North Korea: No Joke By John Stanton The 20th Century Korean War from 1950-1953 pitting US-led United Nations coalition forces against the North Korean and Chinese militaries has been in pause mode for 64 years. The Korean Armistice was signed on July 27, 1953 by the United States, China and North Korea. It called for a cessation of hostilities until a lasting peace agreement between the warring parties could be negotiated and signed. That, of course, has not happened due as much to North Korea’s rationally maniacal behavior and ruthless treatment of its citizens, as to its role as a useful pawn of the Chinese and American governments. The Chinese feel compelled to let the incendiary North Korean government in Pyongyang irritate and provoke the United States and much of the world community, and the Americans don’t mind having a large military presence to deter North Korea but also to keep an eye on the China and the Southeast Asian region. China has apparently reinforced its military forces on its border with North Korea. Russia has a short land and maritime border with North Korea. In 2015 officials from the two countries signed an agreement to construct a road connection between the two neighbors during their “Year of Friendship.” According to NK.News.org, North Korea and Russia envisioned “closer collaboration between the two states in political, economic and humanitarian spheres.” As tensions ratchet up in the wake of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile tests, Russia has apparently shored up its military forces near the bustling Russian port city of Vladivostok, home to Russia’s Pacific Fleet and within range of North Korean missiles. US-Led Coalition These military moves by China and Russia make sense if war breaks out between a US-led coalition including South Korea, Japan, Canada, and Australia (for starters) and North Korean forces. The extra forces would likely be used to stanch the tide of North Koreans expected to stream out of North Korea. In the unfortunate circumstance that sees North Korea’s first use of a nuclear weapon, a US retaliatory strike would ensure that the radiologically damaged would seek care in China and Russia, care that China and Russia can ill-afford to provide on a large scale. During a protracted conventional conflict, it seems likely that enterprising organizations in China and Russia would attempt to funnel weapons and aid to the North Koreans to keep the US-led coalition occupied while they ponder their strategic and tactical options. With the US bogged down in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, there are many moves that the Chinese and Russians could make contrary to US interests. The political and pundit classes in New York City and Washington, DC believe that the Trump Administration will just kick the Kim Jong-Un tin can down the road for another US president. The same elites told us all that Hillary Clinton would, with great certainty, win the 2016 presidential election. After 100 days of the Trump presidency, they still shake their heads in disbelief. Yet, they seemed to believe fully in President Trump’s punitive April cruise missile strikes in Syria undertaken after a Bashar Al Assad use of a nerve agent on his own citizens. But Trump’s people say that the time for “strategic patience” with North Korea is over. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the Perry Como of the US State Department, declared as much during a recent visit to South Korea. Has America’s new Ken and Barbie, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, been advising President Trump on the matter? As for China’s influence, it has warned North Korea not to test Trump even as it recently resumed flights to North Korea from Beijing. Time will tell if China is serious in assisting the US or not. Intellectuals? Beyond the political and pundit classes who grace the world with their intellectual acumen are those across the spectrum who think that North Korea is the way it is because of the policies and practices of the US government. Those outlandish claims should not be seriously entertained. Kim Jong-Un is seen in this video smoking a cigarette and, at one point, sitting at a desk not far from an aircraft runway watching his air force and army in action. It looks a lot like a Monty Python skit until you realize that the North Koreans really believe they are a competent military power. And then there is the North Korean Army’s recent live fire exercise. What kind of commanders and political leaders think that the alignment of this artillery on a beach? The commanders are essentially giving their troops a death sentence as US standoff weapons systems would mostly obliterate such massed artillery. North Korean military doctrine is as obsolete as much of its weaponry is. Still, war is horrible and North Korea would, initially, likely cause a lot of pain to the northern portions of Seoul, South Korea. US, South and North Korean civilian casualties would certainly follow. Pain reduction, not elimination, depends on the lethality of US preemptive missile, bomber and cyber-attacks designed to neutralize what the US-led coalition’s intelligence believes to be the targets most important to hit first. Most likely, both North Korean nuclear weapons testing and medium-long range missile sites would be targeted, simultaneously with other North Korean conventional military assets. Before such a conflict de-confliction lines with China and Russia would have to be opened. The Fight North Korea has to know that if it moves any weapons systems into the open, the heat or electronic emissions will get them killed. US intelligence services have tried hard to anticipate how quickly the North Koreans can load and reload artillery and the extent of their ammunition supplies. Then there are the diesel submarines North Korea has in operation. US military antisubmarine warfare aircraft and detection is the best in the world and the Navy would be quick to begin the search for North Korean submarines. US attack class submarines would have to eliminate the DPRK’s undersea threat very quickly, just as US air forces would be called upon to clear the airspace above North Korea as rapidly as possible. North Korean surface vessels would not do well against US anti-ship weaponry with its advanced guidance systems. On the ground and from the sea, the situation is less clear. North Korea is vulnerable to amphibious landings on both its coastlines on the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan. The US Navy and Marine Corps would not attempt such landings until many days into a conflict though. North Korea is said to have sleeper cells in South Korea that would be activated to destroy key communications nodes and other critical infrastructure. North Korean Special Forces are said to be a dangerous threat as in any conflict they would be tasked with infiltrating South Korea to engage in sabotage. It is not known how the North Korean civilian population would respond to an attack. The nation is home to 25 million people who have mostly known nothing but privation and austerity. Of course, that’s the view from the outside. There are tantalizing hints that the civilians there might stay away from the fighting to a limited degree. Books smuggled out of North Korea like The Accusation give a hint of some of the thinking of the well-educated and economically better positioned denizens. But the US experience with insurgencies from Vietnam until the present have not been pleasant, successful affairs. At any rate, the “will” of the North Korean population would play a significant role in a protracted conflict. Some argue that the US should learn from its 20th Century Korean War experience. But comparisons are invalid. The conflict took place as the US was drawing down from World War II and cold political winds were blowing. Since that time the North Koreans have spent a lot of time training to fight but have not been engaged in protracted conflicts for the last two decades as the US has been. There is no substitute for training but when military forces have experience in combat operations and maintain a training regime there is going to be a mismatch at some point favoring the US. Yet another consideration is the Joint Force capabilities of the North Korean military versus the UScoalition interoperability and joint force training. There is no evidence to suggest that North Korea has “networked” its fighting forces to wage war in the cross domains of sea, undersea, land, air, space and cyber. Nor has North Korea conducted extensive training exercises with partner or allies equivalent to Canada, Australia, Japan and South Korea. No One Knows and that Unfinished Business Thing A long term conflict in which the US-led coalition fails to bring North Korea to its knees would allow other nations to make risky moves. Would Russia invade Eastern Ukraine and move up to the Dnieper River? Would China move on Taiwan? Would Turkey move further into Syria? Would Iran move further into Syria and Iraq? Would Russia get more aggressive in Libya? Would Europe further splinter as some members of the European Union back the US while others do not (the UK would fight with the US)? Would the American public support a longer term war effort? Unfortunately, the US, North and South Korea issue is unfinished business. Not too many people on the planet want to see a video of the Kim Jong-Un of the future sitting at his portable desk smoking a cigarette while watching the North Korean “Death to America” ICBM successfully launched and carrying a nuke toward the United States. If that ICBM made in through US missile defenses, the United States nuclear retaliatory response would turn North Korea into a radiological waste-land for decades. No one in the world wants to see that happen either. John Stanton can be reached at jstantonarchangel@gmail.com

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