When thousands of East Germans fled their country, communist leaders blamed the West while hardened locals joked that the last refugee to leave should put out the lights. \nFifteen years after the Berlin Wall fell and half a world away from unified Germany, energy-starved North Korea is echoing the former East German government, accusing the US and South Korea of trying to precipitate an Eastern Europe-style collapse. \n"This is, however, as foolish an act as trying to put an end to the sun," the North Korean Foreign Ministry said. \nIt spoke of "flesh traffic"; East Germany referred to human traffickers. \nFew in the South want or expect an imminent mass exodus to eclipse North Korea in the way the 1989 to 1990 rush to West Germany fatally sapped East Berlin's legitimacy and its workforce. \nBut the South's airlift last week of a record 468 North Korean refugees on two secretive flights from a Southeast Asian country alarmed the North in several ways, regional analysts say. \nIt was less concerned about losing disenchanted people it cannot in any case feed and more worried about the size of the operation and South Korea's decision to mount it, they said. \nMa Kyung-jo of the South Korean Unification Ministry's Policy Coordination Division said a long-running crisis over the North's nuclear weapons ambitions added to Pyongyang's unease. \nHe and other analysts said another crucial factor was the unanimous vote in the US House of Representatives, just days before the airlift, to pass the North Korean Human Rights Act. \nIt calls for Washington to support refugees and lead pressure on the North to safeguard human rights and ensure aid transparency. Pyongyang said it was full of lies. \nCoordinated Action \n"It was inevitable for North Korea to think the current moves by the US and South Korea are some sort of coordinated action to weaken the North's system," said Paik Hak-soon, research director at the Sejong Institute think tank near Seoul. \nPyongyang said the confluence of the bill and the airlift was "by no means accidental." \n"North Korea's harsh words about countries such as the US, saying they are trying to bring down the North, reflect their concerns about the stability of their regime," said Yu Suk-ryul of the government-funded Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security in Seoul. \nOther analysts said the North was probably glad to be rid of people it regarded as malcontents. \n"I would suspect they are not that sad to see them go," said Daniel Pinkston, a North Korea specialist at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California. \nAid workers, many from evangelical Christian groups, estimate that at least 100,000 North Koreans are still hiding, mostly in China. \nNoh Ok-jae, director of the Good Friends refugee aid group, said it was the scale of the airlift -- the biggest group since the 1950-53 Korean War -- that prompted Pyongyang to react. \nNascent economic reforms have brought markets but prices are beyond those without access to plots to grow produce to sell. Industry is creaking and electricity is short, but North Korean leader Kim Jong-il still pumps money into his 1.1-million-strong military. \nRetaliation \nNorth Korea skipped ministerial talks with the South this week, seemingly piqued by the airlift. Pyongyang also said the operation did not bode well for six-way nuclear talks. \nSeoul says it took the refugees on humanitarian grounds, not to annoy Pyongyang. It said it would continue to help the North revamp its economy, part of a South Korean strategy to avoid a collapse that would hit its own economy, Asia's third largest. \nEast Germany's initially dismissive approach to the flood of refugees leaving through the by-then porous border between reformist Hungary and the West did little to halt the flow. It also emboldened those who chose to remain to demonstrate. \nHuman rights activists say even East Germany's notorious Stasi security police pale in comparison with North Korea's internal security forces and labor camps. Dissent is all but unheard of or quickly crushed in the North, which is separated from the South by the highly fortified Demilitarized Zone. \nBut a high-ranking North Korean defector, Kim Duk-hong, told reporters on Wednesday that dissident groups of two or three members each had sprung up since May. He did not say how many groups there were, and it was impossible to verify this independently. \nAnalysts said it was noteworthy that Kim Jong-il had made a series of visits to military bases in what they saw as an attempt to show outward strength. \nThe North's main newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, said on Thursday that the US was trying to spread religion to make people "mental cripples" and notably targeting North Korea. It added: "The spread of superstition, mammonism and the bourgeois way of life, the dangerous poisons destroying human soul and body and creating disorder and confusion in society, must not be allowed."
As a person raised in a family that revered the teachings of Confucius (孔子) and Mencius (孟子), I believe that both sages would agree with Hong Kong students that people-based politics is the only legitimate way to govern China, including Hong Kong. More than two millennia ago, Confucius insisted that a leader’s first loyalty is to his people — they are water to the leader’s ship. Confucius said that the water could let the ship float only if it sailed in accordance with the will of the water. If the ship sailed against the will of the water, the ship would sink. Two
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just dropped the other shoe in the White House’s multidimensional response to the hydra-headed existential challenge from communist China. Yet his sweeping address at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum on Thursday was the most powerful yet — a virtual declaration of a new cold war and a call for global delegitimization of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) rule through what amounts to regime change. Although he did not explicitly mention either a cold war or regime change — terms that send shudders through the foreign policy establishment — Pompeo made it clear that
This year, India and Taiwan can look back on 25 years of so-called unofficial ties. This provides an occasion to ponder over how they can deepen collaboration and strengthen their relations. This reflection must be free from excitement and agitation caused by the ongoing China-US great power jostling as well as China’s aggressive actions against many of its neighbors, including India. It must be based on long-term trends in bilateral engagement. To begin with, India and Taiwan, thus far, have had relations constituted by various activities, but what needs to be thought about now is whether they can transform their ties
The US Navy’s aircraft carrier battle groups are the most dramatic symbol of Washington’s military and geopolitical power. They were critical to winning World War II in the Pacific and have since been deployed in the Indo-Pacific region to communicate resolve against potential adversaries of the US. The presence or absence of the US Seventh Fleet — the configuration of US Navy ships and aircraft in the Indo-Pacific region built around the carriers — generally determines whether war or peace prevails in the region. In the immediate post-war period, Washington’s strategic planners in the administration of then-US president Harry Truman shockingly