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Monday, June 29, 2009

North Korean Soap Opera

According to the Washington Post, “North Korea criticized the U.S. on Monday for positioning missile defense systems around Hawaii, calling the deployment part of a plot to attack the regime and saying it would bolster its nuclear arsenal in retaliation”.
The Administration believes the deployment of this system is necessary for the defense of Hawaii in the event of a missile launch by North Korea directed at the Islands.
North Korea has been beating its war drums as of late against the U.S. It continues to accuse the U.S. of hostile preparations against the North. This has given the North a hook on which hang its “…nuclear arsenal in self-defense”.
North Korea continues to employ a strategy of raising the bat to get the worlds attention. Whether this is for political reasons (NKorea is the last Stalinist Regime in the world), for economic reasons (keep the food flowing to us and we wont do anything stupid) or for both reasons is hard to say.

For whatever reason they play this irritating game, North Korea needs and deserves the full attention of all governments. North Korea should not be allowed to operate in this method as it lends to instability in the Pacific region. All governments should form a comprehensive and unified policy that motivates North Korea to decrease the sound of its war drums and increase its openness to the rest of the world.

Until there is a unified effort by all governments we can continue to look forward to more Soap Opera antics from North Korea.

Monday, June 22, 2009

U.S. Exercise in Korea

According to the Yonhap news agency senior North Korean military officials demanded the U.S. call off annual military drill in South Korea. North Korea is presently faced with UN sanctions because of missile testing.
Last week the North proposed meetings be held at Panmunjom inside the DMZ. This is the first meeting between high ranking officials since 2002. It was at this meeting that North Korea filed its complaints against the military exercises. They indicated that the exercise would increase tensions on the Korean peninsula.
A UN spokesman stated that the military exercise would be carried out as planned.
The military exercise will involve 26,000 U.S. troops and an unspecified number of South Korean forces.

Friday, June 19, 2009

UN Security Council Resolution

According to the U.S. State Department, enforcement of UNSC Resolution 1874 allows States to ask permission to board ships at sea to look for proscribed cargo. The State Department also stated that China and other states are obliged to enforce the UNSC Resolution. The Resolution requires flag states to permit inspection of docked ships or it will be in violation of the UNSC Resolution. They are in hopes that this will force North Korea to comply with international law and allow inspections.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Mr. Ian Kelly reported today for the U.S. State Department that Vietnamese authorities had arrested lawyer Le Cong Dinh on June 13. Le Cong Dinh was arrested for “distributing propaganda against the state”. He was apparently arrested for his defense of pro-democracy activists and expressing his views on the Internet.
Mr. Dinh is a former Fulbright Scholar and well respected in the legal community. The State Department expressed their concern over this event and stated that “…no lawyer should be punished because of the individuals they choose to counsel.”
The State Department also call for the immediate release of Mr. Dinh and others that have been arrested for peacefully expressing their view point.

Friday, June 12, 2009

North Korea Sanctioned

Although there have been no signs of further missile testing by North Korea, recent comments by them may have influenced actions by the UN Security Council. The Associated Press has reported that North Korea has stated that its nuclear missiles will be used for defensive as well as offensive purposes in order to protect its “dignity and sovereignty”. The UN Security Council passed a resolution strengthening sanctions against North Korea - though the statement may not have a direct bearing on the passage of the resolution. Japan’s Diet is also in the middle of passing legislation which would give them the power to inspect North Korean ships on the High Seas in support of the UN sanctions. Some believe that North Korea will not respond to pressure with military force.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Comments by Nominee to be Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific

The following comments were made by President Obama's Nominee to be Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific, Dr. Kurt M. Campbell, Statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Washington, DC, June 10, 2009

I’ve had the good fortune to see Asia from a variety of vantage points over the past 20 years. My first interactions in Asia were as a naval officer serving in Yokosuka, Japan and subsequently as an officer on the Joint Staff. As a treasury official in the early 1990s, I was fortunate to witness firsthand Asia’s remarkable economic transformation from a region of developing countries to a critical driver of the global economy. Later, working at the National Security Council and at the Pentagon as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asia and the Pacific, I was able to gain a richer appreciation of the importance of American engagement to the security and stability of Asia. In my time outside of government I have had the chance to return to my roots as a professor and academic working on Asia-Pacific issues in the Washington, D.C. think-tank community and to work in the private sector in the most dynamic region on the globe. The last decade has allowed me to witness the dramatic rise of an increasingly integrated and highly innovative Asia – but nevertheless a region that still relies upon strong American leadership and sound judgment…..

I’ve had the great privilege to work on Asia-Pacific issues for many years and it is a high honor to have the chance to continue to serve at a moment of enormous consequence and opportunity for the United States in Asia…..

Japan and the Republic of Korea have been key partners in our joint efforts to maintain peace and stability in Northeast Asia and, in particular, to denuclearize North Korea through the Six-Party process. Recently this process has suffered serious setbacks, with North Korea stepping away from the denuclearization process and instead carrying out a series of provocations including its April 5 missile test and its May 25 announcement of a second nuclear test. As the President said, North Korea’s actions blatantly defy U.N. Security Council resolutions and constitute a direct and reckless challenge to the international community, increasing tension and undermining stability in Northeast Asia. If confirmed, I would use close bilateral and trilateral coordination with Tokyo and Seoul to make clear that neither the United States nor its allies will accept a nuclear North Korea. We will also work closely with China in order to coordinate our policies on North Korea. And there should be no mistake: the United States is firm in its resolve to uphold its treaty commitments regarding the defense of its allies…..

Last but certainly not least, I want to speak about our relationship with China. The U.S.-China relationship is complex, it is developing rapidly, and it is one of the most consequential of our bilateral relationships.President Obama agreed with President Hu at the G-20 Summit in London that both the United States and China will seek to build a positive, cooperative and comprehensive relationship for the 21st century. China’s rise as an economic power and its growing political and diplomatic influence are developments with global and not merely regional ramifications. Our bilateral engagement with China cuts across a range and depth of issues that would have been unimaginable 20 years ago. We currently convene over 50 bilateral dialogues and working groups spanning subjects from aviation to non-proliferation to food safety.

If confirmed, I will carry out the Administration’s objective to expand the cooperative aspects of the bilateral relationship in a way that parallels the complex and comprehensive nature of our engagement with China while further facilitating China’s integration into the international system. In this respect, the ability to conduct frank and honest conversations about the difficult issues where we disagree will be an essential element of our approach. The American people expect us to continue the promotion of human rights and religious freedom in China.

If confirmed, I will ensure that human rights, religious freedom for all China’s citizens, and development of the rule of law and civil society remain strong pillars of our engagement.

The situation in Tibet will remain a subject of engagement and concern.

Finally, I support the long-standing U.S. commitment to the one-China policy based on the three Communiqu├ęs and the Taiwan Relations Act, which have served to preserve peace and stability across the Strait for the last three decades. We are committed to making available to Taiwan the defense articles and services required for a sufficient self-defense. We welcome recent initiatives from both sides of the Taiwan Strait that have increased interaction and dialogue, and reduced tensions.

To see the full text go to

Monday, June 8, 2009

China investing

China’s bid to scoop up Pacific Rim companies is meeting with some success. Since the current economic difficulties have started China has been one of the very few countries that finds itself with liquid assets. In order to capitalize on their position they have sought out companies that are in desperate need of cash flow. The majority of these companies are taking the investment money. Some countries such as Australia are resistant to China’s investment strategy. In Australia, China is beginning to see resistance and in some cases a reversal of previous acceptance of China’s money. Although China’s investment strategy has not yet reached the shores of the United States is it possible that China may be positioning for financial dominance of the Pacific Rim as Japan has tried in the past? China is no longer just a back-water country used by other countries as a source of cheap goods but is fast becoming an economic Capitalist giant and dominant player in the world market.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


We are currently updating our research tools so our Web Log for Wednesday June 3 will not be available. Please join us on Friday June 5 for our latest update. Thank you.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Background Notes : Cambodia

Cambodia has established diplomatic relations with most countries, including the United States. The country is a member of most major international organizations, including the UN and its specialized agencies, and became a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1998.
Cambodia is a member of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). On October 13, 2004, Cambodia became the 148th member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
In the past three years, bilateral relations between the U.S. and Cambodia have deepened and broadened. With the lifting of a congressional ban to provide direct assistance to the Cambodian Government, more direct technical assistance has become feasible. U.S. assistance to Cambodia administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) mission in 2008 totaled over $57 million for programs in health, education, governance, and economic growth.
The U.S. supports efforts in Cambodia to combat terrorism, reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, build democratic institutions, promote human rights, foster economic development, eliminate corruption, achieve the fullest possible accounting for Americans missing from the Indochina conflict, and to bring to justice those most responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed under the Khmer Rouge regime.
Between 1955 and 1963, the United States provided $409.6 million in economic grant aid and $83.7 million in military assistance. This aid was used primarily to repair damage caused by Cambodia's war of independence from France, to support internal security forces, and for the construction of an all-weather road to the seaport of Sihanoukville, which gave Cambodia its first direct access to the sea and access to the southwestern hinterlands. Relations deteriorated in the early 1960s. Diplomatic relations were broken by Cambodia in May 1965, but were reestablished on July 2, 1969. U.S. relations continued after the establishment of the Khmer Republic until the U.S. mission was evacuated on April 12, 1975. During the 1970-75 war, the United States provided $1.18 billion in military assistance and $503 million in economic assistance. The United States condemned the brutal character of the Khmer Rouge regime between 1975 and 1979. The United States opposed the subsequent military occupation of Cambodia by Vietnam, and supported ASEAN's efforts in the 1980s to achieve a comprehensive political settlement of the problem. This was accomplished on October 23, 1991, when the Paris Conference reconvened to sign a comprehensive settlement.
The U.S. Mission in Phnom Penh opened on November 11, 1991, headed by career diplomat Charles H. Twining, Jr., who was designated U.S. Special Representative to the SNC. On January 3, 1992, the U.S. lifted its embargo against Cambodia, thus normalizing economic relations with the country. The United States also ended blanket opposition to lending to Cambodia by international financial institutions. When the freely elected Royal Government of Cambodia was formed on September 24, 1993, the United States and the Kingdom of Cambodia immediately established full diplomatic relations. The U.S. Mission was upgraded to a U.S. Embassy, and in May 1994 Mr. Twining became the U.S. Ambassador. After the factional fighting in 1997 and Hun Sen's legal machinations to depose First Prime Minister Ranariddh, the United States suspended bilateral assistance to the Cambodian Government. At the same time, many U.S. citizens and other expatriates were evacuated from Cambodia and, in the subsequent weeks and months, more than 40,000 Cambodian refugees fled to Thailand. The 1997 events also left a long list of uninvestigated human rights abuses, including dozens of extra-judicial killings. From 1997 until the lifting of legislative restrictions on bilateral assistance in 2007, U.S. assistance to the Cambodian people was provided mainly through non-governmental organizations, which flourish in Cambodia.

Notes taken from U.S. State Dept.