South China Sea – Sean King Park Strategies http://sean-king.net Sat, 30 Sep 2017 00:11:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.7 Bloomberg Daybreak Asia: NK Missile Launch 8-28-17 http://sean-king.net/2017/08/28/sean-king-park-strategies-bloomberg-daybreak-asia-nk-missile-launch-8-28-17/ Mon, 28 Aug 2017 20:07:26 +0000 http://sean-king.net/?p=604 Sean King, Senior Vice President at Park Strategies spoke with Angie Lau and Bryan Curtis, reacting to today’s North Korean missile launch. He discussed the likelihood of talks with the U.S. and explained that North Korea’s objective is to continue to freeze out the South. He finished by saying drastic sanctions are required.   Originally […]

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Sean King, Senior Vice President at Park Strategies spoke with Angie Lau and Bryan Curtis, reacting to today’s North Korean missile launch. He discussed the likelihood of talks with the U.S. and explained that North Korea’s objective is to continue to freeze out the South. He finished by saying drastic sanctions are required.

 

Originally posted here.

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China & ASEAN Work Toward Code of Conduct in Disputed South China Sea http://sean-king.net/2017/08/07/china-asean-work-toward-code-conduct-disputed-south-china-sea/ Mon, 07 Aug 2017 21:48:18 +0000 http://sean-king.net/?p=601 Tough negotiations are ahead for China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as they attempt to pull together a code of conduct for avoiding mishaps in the contested South China Sea. Beijing claims more than 90 percent of the 3.5 million-square-kilometer sea. This overlaps with areas Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines say […]

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Tough negotiations are ahead for China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as they attempt to pull together a code of conduct for avoiding mishaps in the contested South China Sea.

Beijing claims more than 90 percent of the 3.5 million-square-kilometer sea. This overlaps with areas Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines say belongs to them. The code of conduct is aimed at avoiding accidents as those nations explore for oil, gas, and fish, as well as developing some of the many islets in the South China Sea.

Experts say China will oppose defining the scope of the sea, making the code binding, and any enforcement of actions that would limit its maritime activities.

China and ASEAN foreign ministers approved a framework code in Manila on Sunday. But China may fear that a code of conduct would expose or curb some of its marine activities.

The framework that was approved doesn’t have any specifics that might alarm China. Rather, it covers broad advice about avoiding incidents between aircraft and sea vessels.

ASEAN members will want a legally binding code with an enforcement scheme and ways of monitoring incidents. China is likely to protest any eventual code clauses on enforcement, legal authority, and South China Sea boundaries that cover islands it believes it controls outright.

It will also oppose any link to compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, says Sean King, Senior Vice President of Park Strategies.

Philippine foreign affairs spokesman Robespierre Bolivar said his country wants a legally binding code in the end—but, he told reporters, the code should reflect a consensus.

 

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ASEAN Warning to North Korea Spurred by U.S. Pressure and Asian Economy http://sean-king.net/2017/08/06/asean-warning-north-korea-spurred-u-s-pressure-asian-economy/ Sun, 06 Aug 2017 21:36:05 +0000 http://sean-king.net/?p=599 Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a meeting with his North Korean counterpart, Ri Yoong Ho, on Sunday during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) ministerial meetings in Manila. Wang said he urged Ri to adhere to UN resolutions and stop provoking the international community with missile launches and nuclear tests. He also said […]

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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a meeting with his North Korean counterpart, Ri Yoong Ho, on Sunday during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) ministerial meetings in Manila.

Wang said he urged Ri to adhere to UN resolutions and stop provoking the international community with missile launches and nuclear tests. He also said he advised Ri to take a “double suspension” approach to easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula—in other words, North Korea would suspend its nuclear tests and the U.S. and Japan would suspend joint military drills.

The warning to North Korea from ASEAN should soothe the U.S. government, which the organization’s members hope will become more active in the region. At the same time, they are trying to protect their own relationship with North Korea.

Although the Philippines, this year’s ASEAN chair, denied that pressure from the U.S. played a role in their statement, scholars suspect that Washington was indeed a factor, particularly in light of the fact that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is attending part of the organization’s ministerial meetings.

The ASEAN countries recognize North Korea diplomatically, and North Korea has embassies in eight of them. The nation therefore has an outlet for its money-making activities abroad, and Southeast Asian companies have been allowed to do business in a country that is normally off limits.

According to Sean King, Senior Vice President of political consultancy firm Park Strategies, some North Korean embassies effectively do business for Kim Jong Un’s government, possibly tempering any resolve in Southeast Asia to upset it.

“In addition to supporting ostensibly legitimate businesses like ginseng sales and restaurants, these embassies act as control centers for the North’s regional smuggling networks and other plainly illicit operations,” King said.

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The Reasons Behind North Korea’s ICBM Tests http://sean-king.net/2017/08/04/reasons-behind-north-korea-icbm-tests/ Fri, 04 Aug 2017 21:31:30 +0000 http://sean-king.net/?p=594 South Korean President Moon Jae-in has been attempting to defuse tensions between North Korea and the rest of the world following that nation’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). But North Korea has yet to respond to Moon’s request for a dialogue that would hopefully culminate in a denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Instead, […]

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in has been attempting to defuse tensions between North Korea and the rest of the world following that nation’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

But North Korea has yet to respond to Moon’s request for a dialogue that would hopefully culminate in a denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Instead, North Korea chose to launch a second ICBM and is preparing to conduct another nuclear test.

Experts said the immediate purpose of Pyongyang’s actions is to estrange South Korea from the U.S. and engage in talks directly with Washington.

“North Korea’s objective in launching ICBMs, as best as we can ever understand what Pyongyang is thinking, is to separate the U.S. from South Korea,” said political analyst and Asia specialist Sean King, Senior Vice President of Park Strategies.

“In other words, to scare the U.S. enough that we’ll enter into direct peace treaty talks with Pyongyang, thereby undermining our South Korean ally,” King added.

It is critical for Moon and his administration to understand Pyongyang’s objectives and to come up with a North Korea strategy that reflects that understanding. Ultimately, what the North wants is to ensure the security of its regime and prove its military prowess through developing nuclear capability.

Analysts are saying that North Korea is now at the most dangerous point in its nuclear weapons program history, since it has stated it is willing to attack the U.S. with nuclear weapons, even though it doesn’t actually have that capability yet.

 

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Can Malaysia and Thailand Afford Not to back U.S. Led Unified North Korea Strategy http://sean-king.net/2017/08/04/can-malaysia-thailand-afford-not-back-u-s-led-unified-north-korea-strategy/ Fri, 04 Aug 2017 21:29:43 +0000 http://sean-king.net/?p=589 The Southeast Asian nations of Malaysia and Thailand are waiting to see what the Trump administration has in store for them regarding their relationships. They’ll soon get their answers. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is visiting the two countries sometime between August 5 and August 9. The biggest question is whether or not the […]

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The Southeast Asian nations of Malaysia and Thailand are waiting to see what the Trump administration has in store for them regarding their relationships.

They’ll soon get their answers. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is visiting the two countries sometime between August 5 and August 9. The biggest question is whether or not the nations will back Trump’s agenda item of putting a stop to North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

Neither Malaysia nor Thailand may be able to offer that.

The U.S. lost leverage with Thailand when the country shifted to military rule in 2014. Although it hasn’t yet restored full democracy, the U.S. State Department refers to Thailand as a key U.S. security ally in Asia and doesn’t want it to build relations with China.

Malaysia looks to the U.S. to counterbalance its growing economic dependence on China, and thus the government of that nation wants to remain friendly to the U.S. However, if a 2007 survey still holds true, 75 percent of the citizens of the largely Muslim nation don’t like America—a percentage that has most likely risen since President Trump tried to bar Muslims from other nations from entering the United States.

Whether or not Thailand and Malaysia have any pull with North Korea is another question. They are not major regional powers like China. If any action on North Korea were to come, it would probably be in the form of a joint statement from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)—of which Malaysia and Thailand are members—urging restraint by all parties.

However, as Sean King, Senior Vice President of Park Strategies, says, North Korea does have diplomatic ties with 10 ASEAN members and maintains embassies in eight. Malaysia has extra special relations with North Korea, as Kim Jong-un’s brother was physically there—until he was suddenly killed in February.

“I hope Secretary Tillerson will urge Manila, Kuala Lumpur, and Bangkok to break all diplomatic and business ties with North Korea,” said King.

 

Read the full story here.

 

 

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Kim Jong-un Wants to be Enemies With Seoul http://sean-king.net/2017/07/25/kim-jong-un-wants-enemies-seoul/ Tue, 25 Jul 2017 20:28:51 +0000 http://sean-king.net/?p=587 In the year 2000, then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and South Korean President Kim Dae-jung signed a joint declaration initiating a “Sunshine Policy” of openness between the North and the South. His successor, Roh Moo-hyun, followed suit. However, according to Sean King, Senior Vice President of consultancy firm Park Strategies, “the next two [conservative] presidents […]

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In the year 2000, then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and South Korean President Kim Dae-jung signed a joint declaration initiating a “Sunshine Policy” of openness between the North and the South. His successor, Roh Moo-hyun, followed suit.

However, according to Sean King, Senior Vice President of consultancy firm Park Strategies, “the next two [conservative] presidents reversed course—pulling back on dialog with, and aid for, Pyongyang, while also tightening sanctions over the North’s sinking of the South’s Cheonan naval corvette in 2010 and its weapons programs.”

South Korea’s current president, Moon Jae-in, is more liberal and wants to resume dialogue with the North. But “the North’s much less interested in the South than it was then,” King said. “Pyongyang needs Seoul less these days, as it’s well past its famine and has a much stronger economy by earning hard currency the world over through licit and illicit means.”

“[North Korea] sees the South as an illegitimate colonial puppet and itself as Korea’s only true government for the entire peninsula,” King added.

King said North Korea is deliberately ignoring Seoul because it’s only interested in talks directly with the United States. However, “we, of course, tell Pyongyang that it must go through U.S. ally Seoul to get to us. But newly emboldened with nukes, Pyongyang now thinks it can go straight to Washington.”

Although the current South Korean president wants to open up dialogue with the North, that dialogue comes with conditions. The biggest of these is that the South wants North Korea to drop its nuclear program. North Korea dismissed the request as “nonsense.”

Kim isn’t willing to stop his nuclear program because he sees it as a bargaining chip in negotiations with Washington. His regime is also much less stable than his father’s, so he has something to prove to his peers as well as his enemies. Furthermore, allowing freedom of movement between the North and South could turn out to be of great harm to North Korea as people “vote with their feet” once they see how much better life is in the South than it is in the North.

 

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Nations Urged to Stop Illicit Trade with North Korea http://sean-king.net/2017/07/20/nations-urged-stop-illicit-trade-north-korea/ Thu, 20 Jul 2017 20:27:04 +0000 http://sean-king.net/?p=584 A number of experts recently said that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should play a bigger role in reining in North Korea by cracking down on its illicit trade and activities in their countries. Some ASEAN nations provide a means for North Korea to evade sanctions imposed by the global community and earn […]

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A number of experts recently said that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should play a bigger role in reining in North Korea by cracking down on its illicit trade and activities in their countries.

Some ASEAN nations provide a means for North Korea to evade sanctions imposed by the global community and earn hard currency.

ASEAN’s economic interaction with North Korea is tiny compared to that of China, but the isolated nation has deep and extensive relations with ASEAN nations.

The Philippines was the third-largest trading partner of North Korea. Singapore and Malaysia have diplomatic relations with Pyongyang. Vietnam and Laos share a “communist ideology,” and Cambodia and Myanmar have traditional friendships with the North.

ASEAN foreign ministers did not issue a joint statement condemning North Korea’s launch of an alleged ICBM. However, Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam did issue individual statements against the action.

Some experts said the Trump administration should urge ASEAN countries to increase pressure on North Korea.

“The U.S. should forbid trade with, and deny U.S. dollar access to, any ASEAN country that trades with North Korea,” said Sean King, Senior Vice President of consulting firm Park Strategies. “Even seemingly benign commerce like ginseng sales and North Korean restaurants generate valuable hard currency for an evil regime that persecutes its own people and threatens others with nuclear annihilation.”

In May, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for ASEAN members to cut funding to and minimize diplomatic relations with North Korea.

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Many Cautious Over Moon’s Peace Treaty Proposal http://sean-king.net/2017/07/09/many-cautious-moons-peace-treaty-proposal/ Sun, 09 Jul 2017 20:00:40 +0000 http://sean-king.net/?p=581 South Korean President Moon Jae-in has begun making overtures toward North Korea. But some international experts are saying that Moon needs to take a more cautious approach until Pyongyang agrees to abandon the development of its missile and nuclear programs. The concerns arose after Moon said on July 6 that he was willing to meet […]

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in has begun making overtures toward North Korea. But some international experts are saying that Moon needs to take a more cautious approach until Pyongyang agrees to abandon the development of its missile and nuclear programs.

The concerns arose after Moon said on July 6 that he was willing to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and put all issues on the negotiating table, including the signing of a peace treaty.

Considering that the United States, a South Korea ally, has been seeking harsher sanctions against the North in response to a successful test firing of an ICBM on July 4, the move could potentially hurt the alliance between the two nations.

“Moon’s more conciliatory approach toward Pyongyang could create some bumpy moments ahead between himself and President Trump, so long as Trump sticks to his recently reassumed hard line,” said Sean King, Executive Vice President of New York City consulting firm Park Strategies.

However, Moon’s overtures may not have the desired effect since he is going against a tide of international sentiment and because Kim would want to deal directly with the U.S. rather than including South Korea in any negotiations.

Katharine H.S. Moon, a Senior Fellow at the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at the Brookings Institute, says that President Moon may be signaling to Trump and Kim that they’re getting too close to military confrontation. Moon may also believe that diplomacy and some sort of reconciliation efforts are increasingly urgent.

Whatever the outcome of Moon’s attempts to establish a closer relationship with Pyongyang, the experts do support Moon’s proposal for the two Koreas to resume reunions of families separated by the Korean War and for cooperation on the 2018 Winter Olympics.

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Kim Jong-un and North Korea Now a Bigger Threat Than Ever http://sean-king.net/2017/07/07/kim-jong-un-north-korea-now-bigger-threat-ever/ Fri, 07 Jul 2017 19:59:23 +0000 http://sean-king.net/?p=579 On July 4, North Korea test-launched an ICBM, in defiance of the world. The test raised speculation that the country is now capable of delivering a nuclear weapon to places as distant as Alaska and northern Australia. New York-based political analyst and Asian specialist Sean King said of the event, “Yesterday’s launch, a truly successful […]

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On July 4, North Korea test-launched an ICBM, in defiance of the world. The test raised speculation that the country is now capable of delivering a nuclear weapon to places as distant as Alaska and northern Australia.

New York-based political analyst and Asian specialist Sean King said of the event, “Yesterday’s launch, a truly successful ICBM launch or not, is a long-overdue wakeup call that’s been decades in the making.

“Not enough of us have…taken North Korea as seriously as we should, as we haven’t always understood the Kim regime for the evil ultranationalist cult and global organized crime network that it is,” King added, noting that the U.S. Cold War playbook doesn’t apply here, since “Kim’s inner circle won’t even listen to friends like Moscow and Beijing.”

King said the Cuban missile crisis was a major turning point in this regard because then-North Korean leader Kim Il-sung saw Russia as having sold out Cuba. “Hence Pyongang’s long craved its own nuclear arsenal, so as to never have to rely on others for its survival and pursuit of Korean unification on its terms,” King stated.

Other analysts believe that the world’s governments have taken the North Korea issue seriously. Brendan Thomas-Noone, a research fellow at the University of Sydney, said it really comes down to how hard the issue is to solve, particularly because governments have found it easier to wait for the Kim regime to collapse or for North Korea to come back to the negotiating table.

That would, however, require sanctions and international pressure, and some countries just don’t have the resources or political will to enforce sanctions against North Korea.

Although many expressed doubts over the pace and capabilities of the DPRK’s program, the launch marks a triumph for North Korea and its leader, Kim Jong-un. The missile flew for almost 1,000 kilometers and landed in Japanese waters. David Wright of the Union of Concerned Scientists wrote that available figures implied the missile had “a maximum range of roughly 6,700 km on a standard trajectory.”

 

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In Wake of North Korean ICBM Tests Trump’s Resolve Hardening http://sean-king.net/2017/07/07/wake-north-korean-icbm-tests-trumps-resolve-hardening/ Fri, 07 Jul 2017 19:54:31 +0000 http://sean-king.net/?p=577 In the wake of a July 4 ICBM test by North Korea, the U.S. is likely to take new steps to contain the country’s development of its missile programs. Those steps would include sanctions against China and some Southeast Asian countries in an attempt to starve North Korea of cash to develop its ICBM and […]

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In the wake of a July 4 ICBM test by North Korea, the U.S. is likely to take new steps to contain the country’s development of its missile programs. Those steps would include sanctions against China and some Southeast Asian countries in an attempt to starve North Korea of cash to develop its ICBM and nuclear programs.

“The ICBM test will only harden Trump’s resolve on North Korea, which was already hardening after Otto Warmbier’s savage death,” said New York-based political analyst and Asian specialist Sean King, Senior Vice President of Park Strategies.

King added that the Trump administration would pursue much harsher sanctions not only against North Korea but also against those enabling the Kim Jong-un regime, such as Beijing and Moscow.

“Washington should further increase secondary sanctions on mainland Chinese entities and banks that front for North Korea and dry up whatever North Korean hard currency earnings there are,” King said, adding that some Southeast Asian countries would also be on the watch list.

“Too many Southeast Asian countries have for too long looked the other way,” he added.

At a recent meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump vowed that he would increase pressure on North Korea. The three leaders agreed to make coordinated efforts to push Beijing to play a bigger role in heading off North Korean provocations.

Trump expressed his intention to consider sanctions against Chinese companies that do business with North Korea, which would cut the major sources of hard currency to Pyongyang. However, analysts ruled out the possibility of immediate pre-emptive military action at this time.

“Pre-emptive military action is not practical unless we are convinced an attack is imminent, even though we’d eventually win any war with North Korea,” King said. “Hundreds of thousands of South Koreans could die by conventional means in this process.”

Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association, said that Washington must further increase coordination with its partners in the region and send a clear message that talks are a viable option. Meanwhile, the administration must make it clear that the U.S. would continue to increase pressure through additional sanctions and work with other countries to improve the enforcement of existing penalties.

 

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