As the UN launches an investigation into the possibility that China broke international sanctions against North Korea by providing it with banned technology, the global community should think again about the role Beijing has played as a negotiator in disarmament talks with Pyongyang over the years.
Beijing denies it provided North Korea with the 16-wheel transporter- erector- launcher (TEL) vehicle, pictured at a military parade on April 15, that made Beijing, rather than Pyongyang, the main focus of the international community this week. Providing a TEL — a vehicle used to transport and launch ballistic missiles — to North Korea would be in breach of UN Security Council Resolution 1874, adopted in 2009, which prohibits the supply to North Korea of “any arms or related materiel, or providing financial transactions, technical training, services or assistance related to such arms.”
Military experts who analyzed the images claim the TEL seen at the parade bore strikingly similar characteristics to a TEL design by the 9th Academy of China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASIC).
North Korea probably does not have the industrial capability to design such a vehicle on its own. After all, far more advanced countries, including Taiwan, have struggled for years to develop similar systems, and their efforts have often resulted in failure.
Aside from CASIC directly providing North Korea with the TEL, other possible explanations include design theft by Pyongyang, assistance by Chinese technicians or the acquisition of the vehicle under the pretext of non-military use. Pyongyang could also have obtained the TEL via a third country, perhaps Iran or Pakistan, which both have close ties to the Chinese military.
Regardless, Beijing has a lot of explaining to do and we can only hope that UN investigators will be able to do their work despite the expected pressure they will receive not to incriminate China.
This incident did not happen in a vacuum, but rather it is the logical continuation of an environment that has made it possible for Pyongyang to defy the international community as it forges ahead with its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. It is highly unlikely that isolated North Korea could have gone this far without some form of assistance, or at least diplomatic cover. Only one country has been in a position to do so: China.
While, on the surface, Beijing has played a crucial role in facilitating the six-party talks on the North Korean arms program, it has also benefited substantially from the almost perpetual state of crisis that has descended upon the matter. Not only has China been able to insert itself as an indispensable regional power in negotiations, it has also managed to extract various concessions — possibly on Taiwan, among others — in return for its participation, and the spigot of benefits will not be turned off as long as the North Korea crisis remains.
Another advantage to the North Korean question remaining unresolved is that it keeps US, South Korean and Japanese forces bogged down over the Korean Peninsula. Should that issue disappear, the Pacific trio would suddenly find itself with too many resources, with the possibility that those would be redirected to meeting the China challenge, or perhaps even bolstering their ties with Taiwan.
Mutatis mutandis, North Korea could be to China what Vietnam was to the Soviet Union as a proxy to keep its principal strategic adversary distracted.
The North Korea problem probably will not disappear as long as Pyongyang’s nuclear antics serve Beijing’s strategic purposes.
While Beijing does not want to see war on the Korean Peninsula, it also does not want the conflict to be resolved once and for all. Peace, in this case, is simply inconvenient.
It is a plot that could have come straight from the pages of a John le Carre novel. The head of a nation’s secret intelligence service is caught in a honeytrap: captured on camera with a mysterious younger woman at Bangkok International Airport and covertly followed to their hotel. A secret liaison in an exotic location, used to blackmail the spymaster of an adversary, who misappropriated public funds to pay for the clandestine affaire d’amour. This is what the Chinese Ministry of State Security wants people to believe after it used a Thai-language “cutout” Twitter account to release a “leaked” photograph
In a China-US war over Taiwan, paradoxically the greatest loss of life could be inflicted on the Muslim Uighurs. Uighurs constitute 45 percent of the Xinjiang population of 25 million people, with over 1 million incarcerated in internment camps in accordance with a policy initiated under Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平). Another half-million children have been placed in state-run boarding schools. Forced sterilization has led to a 24 to 60 percent drop in the birthrate, leading officials from many countries to describe the mass detention as genocide. Estimated annual death rates in the camps of between 5 and 10 percent could
Starting from November, and in line with recent amendments to the Compulsory Automobile Liability Insurance Act (強制汽車責任保險法), electric bicycles (e-bikes) and other small electric two-wheeled vehicles must be licensed with mounted license plates before they can be ridden on the road. This change should resolve some existing problems, such as the difficulty that e-bike owners have faced in receiving help to find their bikes if they are stolen, and the difficulty that road users have in holding anyone accountable when an accident occurs. It would also allow the more than 600,000 e-bikes that are currently being ridden on Taiwan’s roads to
Taiwan is a fully functional democracy with a constitution and democratically elected leaders. Over the past seven decades its political system has matured and it is completely different from communist China. It is consistently ranked as one of the freest countries by the Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders freedom indices, as well as the Heritage Index of Economic Freedom. Taiwan’s economic and political growth has been remarkable. It is one of Asia’s major economies and a leader in the global semiconductor industry. Only 13 UN members recognize Taiwan and about 59 countries, including India, have established unofficial diplomatic relations