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June 7, 2013 at 11:55 AM
President Barack Obama is meeting Friday and Saturday with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Cybersecurity and economics aside, the human rights issue should surely come up. The New York Times reports more than 30 organizations are urging Obama to call for the release of at least 16 political prisoners in China, including 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo.
Let’s not forget Kenneth Bae, the American tour operator from Lynnwood. He was living and working in China when he crossed the border into North Korea last November. Bae has languished within North Korea’s notorious prison system for seven months now. In May, he was reportedly transferred to a new site to begin a 15-year hard labor sentence for supposedly plotting to overthrow the government. On May 2, Amnesty International raised serious concerns about his lack of access to a lawyer.
May 17, 2013 at 7:15 AM
China, Japan, India, Italy, South Korea and Singapore hardly leap to mind when the Arctic is mentioned, but each country hotly pursued permanent observer status on the Arctic Council.
The scramble to attach themselves to the council, where the senior leadership meets every two years, is an indication of the dramatic changes and perceived opportunities that climate change is bringing to the top of the world.
The council, which met on Wednesday, was formed in 1996 to discuss environmental issues. Now the permanent members – Russia, the United States, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden and Finland – are dealing with the interest stirred by the possibility of new shipping routes and access to natural resources.
Part of the meeting in Kiruna, Sweden was approving the applications for permanent observer status, and reminding the interlopers how little official power they will have. Russia and Canada and indigenous groups did not support the expansion. Canada was able to fend off, or at least delay, an application by the European Union.
India and the Arctic would seem to be, well, polar opposites. But an Arctic passage between East Asia and Western Europe would trim the distance of current shipping routes by 40 percent. The region would be attractive to cruise lines.
Growing economies also know the Arctic holds enviable oil reserves and gas deposits.
The opportunities and discussions are all modified with the words like expected, predicted and likely, but the potential payoffs are huge, and nations far afield want in on the action.
An online source, Alaska Dispatch – News and voices from the Last Frontier – offers a link-rich tutorial dubbed Arctic Council 101. Expect the council virtually no one knew about to make headlines as the ice melts.
May 8, 2013 at 6:41 AM
The timing is at least interesting if not a diplomatic coup of sorts. The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, is in Beijing to meet with Chinese leaders. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel will arrive on Wednesday. Supposedly, they will not meet.
Of course, a Chinese official made it clear to a New York Times reporter, the Foreign Ministry would be happy to help them have a chat. Indeed. Chinese officials would love to burnish their nation’s international stature by providing a setting for diplomatic progress.
Unlike the United States, China does not have the domestic ties with Israel that complicate most political and diplomatic dealings with Israelis.
Abbas had planned to ask China to use its influence with Israel to get the country to back off economic pressures on the Palestinian economy. China can mediate and advocate for change without inciting tensions at home.
The world is relying on China to use its influence very close to home with North Korea. If others in distant disputes turn to Beijing for help, that invites all manner of speculation about emerging roles and status for China.
April 9, 2013 at 6:05 AM
However oblique the references, it was reassuring to have China’s President Xi Jinping complain about North Korea, his country’s goofy neighbor and longtime ally.
Reassuring might overstate the feeling, but if Kim Jong Un and his sycophantic entourage in Pyongyang is going to listen to any adult advice, the stern voice would have to come from China.
The Chinese president, who is new to the job, told an economic forum in southern China that, “No one should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gains.” His comments Sunday surely resonated in North Korea’s capital. (more…)