North Korea

US President Joe Biden and Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at a joint news conference after their bilateral meeting at Akasaka Palace in Tokyo, Japan, 23 May 2022. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The US is winning at building relationships with China's neighbours

Academic Zhu Ying notes that the war in Ukraine has brought the US, Japan and South Korea closer together on issues such as Taiwan and the nuclear threat from North Korea, thus strengthening the US’s strategy of working with alliances. In exchange for the US’s support in forms such as a nuclear umbrella, Japan and South Korea will align with the US in its competition with China.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un meets troops who have taken part in the military parade to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People's Revolutionary Army, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), 29 April 2022. (KCNA via Reuters)

Can South Korea’s Yoon and China’s Xi denuclearise North Korea?

North Korea conducted an unprecedented seven missile tests in January and continues to test boundaries as it isolates itself from the world amid the Ukraine war. Yoon Suk-yeol, who becomes South Korea’s president on 10 May, has every reason to work with Chinese President Xi Jinping on denuclearising North Korea. But will joint efforts be a casualty of tectonic shifts in the global landscape?
South Korea's president-elect Yoon Seok-youl speaks during a news conference at his transition team office, in Seoul, South Korea, 20 March 2022. (Jung Yeon-je/Pool via Reuters)

South Korea’s new president needs to avoid predecessor’s mistakes and reframe foreign policy priorities

South Korean academic Kang Jun-young notes that the incoming Yoon Seok-youl administration in South Korea will have to rectify several diplomatic missteps of the previous administration, including by restoring ties with Japan and adjusting its policies towards China and the US, while dealing with the nuclear issue with North Korea. Will Yoon’s administration be able to juggle all this while maintaining its national dignity and not giving in to external pressure?
Supporters of Yoon Seok-youl, presidential candidate from the main opposition People Power Party, attend a campaign rally in Seoul, South Korea, on 15 February 2022. (SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg)

How will anti-China sentiment impact South Korea’s presidential election?

South Korean angst directed towards China during the Winter Olympics suggests that anti-China sentiment in South Korea has not completely subsided from the time of China's reprisals against South Korea for the THAAD missile system deployment some years ago. In such a climate, bilateral relations could get rockier if Yoon Seok-youl of the conservative People Power Party makes it to the finish line in South Korea's March presidential election.
A couple (front, left) wear traditional hanbok dress as they walk across a road in Seoul, South Korea, on 7 January 2022. (Anthony Wallace/AFP)

When neighbours disagree: Did China 'steal' South Korea’s culture and historical memory?

When the Chinese featured a lady wearing a hanbok — what to the Koreans is their national costume — at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony, it was as if the band-aid on rising China-South Korean tensions was peeled off. Soon after, cries of foul play and the Chinese “snatching” medals from the South Koreans followed. Are greater squabbles on the horizon for these Northeast Asian neighbours?
People watch a television screen showing a news broadcast with file footage of a North Korean missile test, at a railway station in Seoul on 25 January 2022, after North Korea fired two suspected cruise missiles according to the South's military. (Jung Yeon-je/AFP)

The world needs to pay attention to renewed Korean peninsula confrontation

With its latest “final test-fire” of a hypersonic missile, the DPRK has shown that its nuclear capabilities have increased significantly since the Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi in 2019. In fact, US-DPRK relations have regressed to pre-Pyeongchang Winter Olympics levels with the US imposing new sanctions. It may seem like just another trough in the instability of the Korean Peninsula, but if the world looks away, the situation may just reach boiling point before anyone realises it.
People look at publicity posters of The Battle at Lake Changjin at a cinema in Fuzhou, Fujian province, China, on 7 October 2021. (CNS)

Can the Chinese criticise their patriotic movies?

The movie The Battle at Lake Changjin has broken all sorts of box office records in China. This patriotic drama portrays Chinese volunteer troops fighting in the Korean War against the US, and is highly rated by the authorities and the public. However, certain comments have been criticised for being disrespectful to the people and times in the movie, and the police have detained Chinese financial media personality Luo Changping for his allegedly disparaging comments against the country's volunteer fighters. Zaobao’s China Desk examines the issue.
A police barricade is seen in front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on 14 September 2021. (Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg)

AUKUS: Aggravating tensions and dividing the world

Australia, the US and the UK recently launched the enhanced trilateral security partnership “AUKUS”. American academic Zhu Zhiqun believes that AUKUS is divisive and serves the interests of the US military-industrial complex. It has also raised the stakes in China’s threat perceptions, given the unspoken target of the grouping. And now that Australia has picked a side, how will power dynamics play out in the Indo-Pacific region? Will China also seek alliances to strengthen itself?
A journalist takes a picture of the national flag during a visit to the Museum of the Communist Party of China, in Beijing, China, on 25 June 2021. (Noel Celis/AFP)

The US has AUKUS. Where are China's alliances?

The formation of the AUKUS security pact involving Australia, the US and the UK will likely give the US and its allies greater strategic depth in the Indo-Pacific, says Wei Da. He believes that the containment of China has moved up a notch and China has to recalibrate its thinking accordingly. One way is to shore up its own alliances, which have traditionally neither been strong nor constant. What can China do about it?