Nuclear power

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?
Soldiers of Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) fire a mortar during a live-fire military exercise in Anhui province, China, 22 May 2021. (CNS photo via Reuters)

Will China abandon its 'no first use' nuclear policy?

Li Nan notes the seeming contradiction of China expanding its nuclear force while vowing not to fight a nuclear war. He explains that China seeks to ensure that it has nuclear counterattack capabilities that can survive the first nuclear attack and launch retaliatory strikes. At the moment, its “no first use” policy is intact, but the debate around it suggests that China’s nuclear strategists have begun to explore the possibility of limited nuclear war that can be winnable against enemy targets.
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.
A view shows a burning police car during a protest against LPG cost rise following the Kazakh authorities' decision to lift price caps on liquefied petroleum gas in Almaty, Kazakhstan, 5 January 2022. (Pavel Mikheyev/Reuters)

US, Russia and China using Kazakhstan unrest as a proxy

China and Russia have been quick to point to external hands, namely the US’s, in stoking recent unrest in Kazakhstan. But the main issue is not so much what precipitated the unrest, but how it has been expedient for major players US, Russia and China to capitalise on it for geopolitical gain. Zhang Chi analyses the situation.
Soldiers of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) take part in combat training in the Gobi desert in Jiuquan, Gansu province, China, 18 May 2018. (Reuters/Stringer/File Photo)

5 nuclear-weapon states vow no arms race: A more peaceful world?

China has made no bones about its role in shepherding a first-ever P5 joint statement on preventing nuclear war and avoiding an arms race. While the release of the statement shows some rational thought and mutual respect among the five nuclear powers, is it of any significance in moderating conflicts between nation-states and preventing possible fights in hotspots such as the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait?
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right) greets Russian President Vladimir Putin before a meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, on 6 December 2021. (Money Sharma/AFP)

India and Russia remain on opposite sides of the Indo-Pacific’s balance of power

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to New Delhi should be seen as one of correcting the downward slide in India-Russia relations rather than a celebration of an age-old strategic partnership, says Yogesh Joshi. Against the backdrop of a rising China, India feels the threat of strengthening Russia-China relations and the latter’s engagement of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, India-US relations have taken on greater strategic significance, and Russia may be wary of India’s involvement in the Quad. With divergent national interests and threat perceptions likely to continue, will it be harder for both powers to find themselves on the same side?
People wearing face masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19, cast their vote at a polling station while participating in a four-question referendum in Taipei, Taiwan, 18 December 2021. (Annabelle Chih/Reuters)

Japanese academic: Taiwan’s national referendum vote shows democracy at work

​Taiwan’s four-question referendum did not pass, to the relief of the DPP and disappointment of the KMT, says Professor Yoshiyuki Ogasawara of the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. That the motion to reinstate an import ban on pork with ractopamine, namely US pork, did not go through is significant, as it is an election issue that could have a detrimental impact on the DPP. Results aside, the referendum itself was a show of democracy at work and in some ways a bulwark against reunification with the mainland.
Demonstrators take part in a march against nuclear power ahead of a referendum on whether the government should continue building the stalled Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, in Taipei, Taiwan, 5 December 2021. (Annabelle Chih/Reuters)

Taiwanese wavering over referendum on Fourth Nuclear Power Plant

Given Taiwan’s energy needs, the debate over nuclear energy is being revived, with discussions over whether the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City should be resumed. The ruling party DPP is advocating for a “No” vote and the KMT vice versa. But concerns of nuclear safety overshadow the debate and the referendum on 18 Dec, which will be one among four to be held on different issues. The outcome will be telling of the public’s political leanings and prospects for the future of Taiwan’s energy policies.
A man walks past a model of LY-70 air defense missile weapon system displayed at the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, or Airshow China, in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, China, 29 September 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

Beyond a hypersonic missile: China’s larger objectives

Amid recent reports of China testing a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile, Loro Horta says that gaining a tactical operational advantage is not an objective in itself. Rather, it is a tool with which a great power accomplishes its strategic objectives. What are China’s strategic and political objectives in acquiring these capabilities and will we see another nuclear arms race?