GDI Risk Advisory Group

Archive for the ‘China’ Category

A Killing in North Korea: Father’s Legacy

In China, Intelligence, North Korea on December 27, 2013 at 3:45 am

Korea is Best KoreaWhile many stories are coming out of the Korea’s regarding the recent execution of Jang Song Thaek, the uncle of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, the real reason has yet to come to light.  With a stories that contain womanizing, greed and internal struggles, it is easy to overlook a significant point. Uncle Jang had power and was attempting to grow it.  Kim Jong Un was tired of having to deal with this threat that his father left him by keeping the uncle in this most powerful position.  So Kim had Jang removed.  With this in mind, the big issue  lies with the Chinese connection, and the strong relationship Uncle Jang had with Beijing.  By executing Jang and his closest associates, Kim Jong Un destroyed a critical conduit with Pyongyang’s closest ally.  So to take such a drastic measure as to remove the 2nd most powerful man in North Korea, Kim had to believe Uncle Jang was doing something worse than drinking and fooling around on his wife.  Indications are that Jang and his closest advisors were most likely conducting coup like activities…and that is most likely ‘why’ he was killed.  So what does this mean to regional and global security?  Does China still have the ability to control North Korea the next time they threaten the South or Japan with missiles?  Even more important, do we have a dictator going off the rails with little or no control?  If this was the coup it appears to have been, what opportunity was missed that might have changed the direction of North Korea’s leadership?  One can only speculate.

Here is some media looking at the incident from various angles to add color to the picture.

http://news.yahoo.com/leader-39-uncle-rose-no-2-north-korea-155313036.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/24/jang-song-thaek-execution-kim-jong-un-north-korea-_n_4498996.html

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/12/24/north-korea-kim-jong-un-reportedly-very-drunk-when-ordering-executions/

http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2013/12/26/2013122601647.html

Koreas on the “brink” of war? Russia looking for leverage over Georgia and weapons sales

In China, Defense, Georgia, International Relations, Iran, Russia, U.S. on September 28, 2010 at 5:08 pm

North and South Korea on the brink of war Russian diplomat warns

Russia Inhibits U.S. Defense Assistance to Georgia  

China warns US against interfering in South China Sea issue

Those who follow the events on the Korean peninsula would tell you that the two Koreas are always on the brink of war.  So just what compels an experienced Russian diplomat like Alexei Borodavkin to make such an alarming and somewhat provocative statement that the Koreas are closer than ever to the “brink” war?  Well, one only has to look as far as the recent report that the Russian Defense Minister has requested that the U.S. sell weapons to Russia, stop helping Georgia, and accept the fact that Russia will continue selling weapons to Syria and Iran.  That is all.  What does that does this have to do with a war between North and South Korea?  Moscow believes it can still be a controlling player should any altercation occur between the Koreas.  The Russians see the threat of a dust-up on the Korean peninsula as a counter to the U.S. attempts to back Georgia and to stop Russian weapons sales to U.S. enemies in the Middle East. 

The timing of this is even more important as a recent tiff between China and Japan over the Diaoyu Islands has erupted and tensions over the detained Chinese trawler captain makes for the perfect Russian storm.  The background on this incident is that recently the Japanese Coast Guard seized a Chinese trawler and arrested the captain after the vessel strayed into what the Japanese believe is their territory.  The captain has since been released but the Chinese believe the territory of the Diaoyu Islands belongs to them and that the Japanese have no claim to the it.  So how is this connected to North Korea?  As has been the case for decades, the Chinese see countries like South Korea or Japan as nothing more than extensions of the West – namely the U.S.  For the Japanese to have acted aggressively against the Chinese in this manner and to continue to stake claim to the territory  is nothing more to Beijing than a provocation tacitly supported by the U.S.  With the sinking of the South Korea naval ship by the North several months ago, and the recent U.S. and South Korea Naval exercises off the coast of North Korea, there is plenty of material to get this type of showdown started.  So China is simply reacting as China normally does, using North Korea as a pawn to maneuver against the U.S..  As for the Russians, any flare up right now on the Korean peninsula plays right into their hands providing the leverage they need to get the U.S. to stand down in its defense of Georgia, and to deflect attention off their illicit weapons sales to Syria.

Useless Sanctions on China: Robert Reich Says ‘Forget It,’ Better to Rebuild American Industry

In China, Global Economy, International Relations, International Trade, U.S. Economy on September 22, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Useless Sanctions on China: Robert Reich Says \’Forget It,\’ Better to Rebuild American Industry

Washington Consensus meets the updated Beijing Consensus with nationalism seeping out both sides. The writer hits the nail on the head, at least according to the framework of global production – the trade imbalance between the US and China has been disguised as political rhetoric to deflect attention away from a lack of a U.S. domestic industrial policy. How true is that? I am not sure. –

“The administration will also have to be careful not to unleash something it can’t control. Protectionist impulses run frighteningly deep in Congress.”

CONTRIBUTOR:  Wandering China is a Foresight Perspective contributor and comes to us as a researcher on Chinese politics, international relations and security.  Thanks for the piece WC.  

Austrian engineer spy: Germany continues policy of prosecution and indictment for economic espionage

In China, Defense, Intelligence, Russia on September 16, 2010 at 7:38 pm

Germany charges Austrian with spying for Russia

Russland-Aktuell – Deutschland erhebt Anklage gegen russischen Spion

Germany Charges Austrian With Spying for Russia

The Austrian engineer had gathered information on military helicopters for his control officer, a commercial attaché at the Russian embassy in Vienna. The intelligence officer / diplomat was briefly arrested in 2007 (in flagrante, as he was about to hand over a large sum of money to his agent at Salzburg railway station) but then released by Austrian authorities and withdrawn to Russia by GRU.

The Austrian Prosecutor´s Office decided not to prosecute the Austrian national, but the German Federal Prosecutor has now (Sep 2010) decided to indict and prosecute the Austrian. Grounds for the decision are the possible damage done to vital German industries and the violation of German secrecy laws. It remains unclear if the Austrian will have to stand trial in Germany.

Nevertheless, it shows the relentless effort by the German Bundes- and Landesämter für Verfassungsschutz, in the daily battle against economic and industrial espionage by countries such as Russia and China. It also shows how the German security services are able to work together with the prosecution services, something virtually impossible in Austria.

In the Austrian Republic, the awareness about espionage is close to nil and it is commonly regarded as a “Kavaliersdelikt” (trivial offense). This is of course not helped by Austria´s aspirations of becoming a “leading regional nation” in Central and Eastern Europe, a role it can only fulfill with tacit approval and support from the Russian Federation.

Contributor:  We want to thank Vincent Van Belle for bringing us another great entry.  Vince is a Risk Management Consultant with MacTierney SAC in Austria.

China makes its North Korea Move

In China, Defense, Intelligence, military, U.S. on September 7, 2010 at 12:27 am

China makes its North Korea move

An excellent insight into the China / North Korea differences from the Asia Times

Wandering China brings us this blog contribution from the Asia Times that outlines China’s interpretation of events and response after last months US/S Korea joint naval exercise.  This is very insightful as it demonstrates the continued rigidness of the Chinese position to keep the US from gaining a foothold in the region and coming between China and its smaller neighbors.  This is a side of the China/North Korea relationship and diplomatic posturing not being covered in the U.S. media.  Thanks W.C.

China filling the Soviet void in Cuba

In China, Defense, Intelligence, Russia on September 2, 2010 at 9:08 pm

Cuba and China: A new face on an old relationship

The Chinese have been working diligently to fill the void the Soviet Union left behind with Cuba.  Taking a page straight from history, the Chinese have found favor in Latin America namely Mexico, Central America and Cuba through the use of money, goods and services.  In return, they are receiving training and support in the areas of security, defense and intelligence, much of this a legacy of the Soviets.  What China stands to gain from this is even more intelligence and defense access in the Western Hemisphere enabling them to target the U.S.  From the old Russian signal sites in Cuba to naval ports, the opportunities are endless for the Chinese.  There are even rumors of a Chinese submarine facility in Havana.  While this seems somewhat fantastic at this point in time, how long will that be the case?

Survey: 23 Million Chinese say they are Christians – Estimates much higher

In China, International Relations, PLA, Uncategorized on August 20, 2010 at 10:47 pm

23 Million Christians in China

For a country where free thinkers rule, Christianity is having a second wind in shaping China’s social landscape (technically the Jesuits and then Roman Catholicism came first). Missionaries have been in China since the last epochs of the last two Chinese dynasties. Through a recent conversation with a friend from Hebei and now currently based in Melbourne, she revealed, “We are taught in primary school that there is no God. Only we can help ourselves.” Very telling indeed. 23 million may be a small percentage of the Chinese population, but really that 23 million is the population size of Australia. There are other reports that claim that there are already more than 100 million Christians in China, but that report has been refuted by China’s foreign ministry in 2006, but this is the first attempt at a number not based on speculation, but via quantitative means.

For a people so collectivist in nature, it is no surprise. However, what is interesting is that if this survey is correct, that means 23 million Chinese have now ‘put aside’ their collectivist leanings to develop a personal one-on-one relationship with the Christian God. The previous mantra of the ‘Son of Heaven’ was hardly a personal relationship, it was about reverence for the will of heaven. This shift to a monotheistic spirituality so focused on individual relationships is definitely worth exploring. There will be change. Of course, this is telling too – “Nearly 69 percent of believers said they converted to Christianity after either they or members of their family fell ill,” Li Lin, who organized the survey, said in the Blue Book on China Religions, a book that lists facts on religion in China.

Like most activity that have a contemporary leaning, the eastern coastal areas are the ones that are shaped first. ‘The poll found that most of the Chinese Christians are located in the eastern coastal and the Yangtze River areas, which are China’s most densely populated and economically prosperous regions.’

On a personal note, what is most heartening – is that the East/West divide is getting blurred. The economic and political impetus behind such a line is hopefully getting less relevant. Confucianism, Taoism, and Zen Buddhism are popular Chinese thinking exports today in the West, so it’s good to see this cross-pollination (from the ground up) taking place.

CONTRIBUTOR:  Wandering China is a Foresight Perspective contributor and comes to us as a researcher on Chinese politics, international relations and security.  Thanks for the piece WC. 

PLA General tests Reform Waters; Supports American- style Democracy in China

In China, Global Economy, Intelligence, International Relations, military, PLA, Uncategorized on August 15, 2010 at 9:30 pm

PLA General backs the American Dream

General and scholar test reform waters

PLA Political Commissar  [Lieutenant, not Full General as reported by the Age article below] General Liu Yazhou seems to be constantly pushing boundaries. He argues his points in a recent report by Hong Kong-based magazine Phoenix. He seems to have been able to freely comment on a systemic shift for China to move forward since 2007. Since 2007 the Commissar has be redesignated from the Air Force.

He’s not the only notable figure challenging reforms. For more, check out this article by the Asia Times Online – General and scholar test reform waters (Asia Times, 09 August 2010).  It is noteworthy that one is a military man and the other, an economist. As an observer with vested interest, I am of Chinese ethnicity.  I am still not sure if reform that essentially transforms all significant global powers today to one of American-style democracy will work. I understand where they are coming from, and the Chinese overseas I have met over the course of the past two years are quite happy with the status quo (i.e. Communism with Chinese characterstics – translated Authoritarian Capitalism a la Singapore style, arguably). That being said, I have not visited China since 2002. I shall verify this when I travel to China again this year.

The Chinese are notoriously resistant toward adopting ideals not self-generated. So, why not find a balance between the two?  The Chinese have been a collectivist society for the past few millennia.  Such a wholesale reform to one of individualism, just twenty years after opening up to the world, is going to be a challenging one with many contemporary implications.

Sun Yat-Sen tried it in the early 20th century with Western-influenced nationalism based on democratic ideals, but corruption, far worse than ever before, emerged and set China into further turmoil. It started with civil war involving war lords initially, and then the fight between the Nationalists and Communists.  Key to this is that Sun sought reform against a dynasty that was plunging China into darkness on all fronts – social, economic, political, military – the list is endless.

Today is quite different. Communism 1.0 may have been a disaster with the Cultural Revolution and the like, but Communism 2.0 today really is a marked improvement.

The bigger question is this – how is it that such reports see the light of day in supposedly ‘fully’ authoritarian China?

”If a system fails to let its citizens breathe freely and release their creativity to the maximum extent, and fails to place those who best represent the system and its people into leadership positions, it is certain to perish…’

CONTRIBUTOR:  Wandering China is a Foresight Perspective contributor and comes to us as a researcher on Chinese politics, international relations and security.  Thanks for the piece WC.