This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Friday, January 12, 2018

 Cracking Down on Pyongyang

"We will be discussing with our partners and allies the kind of steps that we can take on maritime interdiction and to be disrupting funding and disrupting resources."
"And maritime interdiction helps us to disrupt resources and then the financial side helps us to disrupt the financing of their nuclear and missile program."
"This ministerial [conference] will enhance and strengthen all of the efforts underway to achieve our policy goals."
"China has the same policy goal in terms of ensuring that North Korea does not become a nuclear-weapons state and acquire the means to deliver a nuclear warhead."
Brian Hook, director of policy, U.S. State Department

"The current situation in the Korean Peninsula is very complicated and sensitive."
"All parties should work to defuse tensions and promote dialogue, rather than blindly resort to pressure and isolation."
Lu Kang, Chinese foreign ministry

People watch a TV screen showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's New Year's speech, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Jan. 3. Ahn Young-joon / AP
Next week in Vancouver the 17 countries that deployed troops as part of the United Nations alliance between 1950 and 1953 during the Korean War will be sitting down together as invited participants to discuss North Korea's recent nuclear and ballistic missile tests. It transpires that the co-hosts of the conference, United States and Canada, failed to find it a requirement to invite two critical players; China and Russia.

At the Vancouver meeting, emphasis will be placed on finding ways of cracking down on the smuggling and money-laundering schemes Pyongyang has resorted to in its efforts to sidestep sanctions, and to enable it to afford its costly nuclear program. There can be little doubt that neither Russia nor China would be amenable to such a move, just as there is little doubt that China has acted as an enabler to North Korea in its smuggling and money-laundering, irrespective of the fact that China does have concerns over Kim Jong-un's propensity to destabilize the region.

This is a gamble for China. It looks forward to a controlled regional destabilization in the sense that all eyes have pivoted to North Korea. All of North Korea's neighbours, from South Korea to Japan, the Philippines and even Australia are riveted to the activities, actions and threats emanating from Pyongyang. In the process, that anxiety takes attention away from Beijing, with its 'distractions' in its expansionist agenda in the South and East China Seas. With bated breath being expended on North Korea, China's plans go unheeded and unimpeded.

The purpose of this meeting of allies and think-alikes is to approve of and strengthen a "maximum-pressure campaign" to deter North Korea from its intransigent determination of achieving its nuclear-ballistic coupling agenda. Russia and China have been suspected and accused of exporting oil to North Korea, representing a violation of UN sanctions, though both have denied the charges. Obviously, the maritime trade and smuggling aids North Korea's survival and weapons development.

There are those who question the kind of progress that can be achieved in the absence of the two nations representing North Korea's key neighbours, both influential in their capability to exert their own pressure on Pyongyang, and both to a degree concerned about the explosive nature of the North's program and aspirations. Both understandably curious about how this will impact on the United States, the global giant they each still marginally defer to, while witnessing its diminishing global influence.

2017/10/13: Ships by the Yalu River near the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge in Sinuiju North Korea.
2017/10/13: Ships by the Yalu River near the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge in Sinuiju North Korea.  Photo by Stephen J. Boitano/LightRocket via Getty Images

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