lunes, 19 de marzo de 2018

A Russian Perspective On Korean Denuclearization

North_Korea's_ballistic_missile_-_North_Korea_Victory_Day-2013_01 (1)
by Charles Knight
I met Anastasia Barannikova this last December when I visited the Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok, Russia. I was there to participate in discussions with eight of the university’s regional security experts about the situation in Korea, only a few hundred kilometers distant from where we sat. In my notes I circled Anastasia Barannikova’s name. Her colleagues mentioned that she had the best set of contacts with North Koreans.
After I returned to my home in Boston, I contacted Barannikova and was able to arrange an interview. She is Russian, but her perspective should not be equated with that of the Kremlin. Rather it is an assessment from an informed young academic living 9,000 kilometers east of Moscow, active in international non-proliferation circles, and benefiting as a researcher from her hard-won independent relationships with North Koreans as primary sources.
We conducted the interview on February 18, and since then there have been many new and important developments in Korea. Nonetheless, what she has to say remains highly relevant to understanding and assessing the statements of officials and the reporting by the press regarding both diplomacy and war posturing in the coming months.
Charles Knight: Georgy Toloraya, perhaps Russia’s most senior North Korea expert, has recently written that “policymakers in Pyongyang believe the only purpose of U.S. policy is to liquidate the DPRK as a state or even ‘physically destroy’ the country and its leadership.” Do you agree that this is a deeply held belief in North Korea policy circles?
Anastasia Barannikova: I can only partially agree. Perhaps this is the external expression by diplomats and politicians. Among the North Korean leadership, there are smart people who understand that their country is a means, not a goal, for the United States. The U.S. military presence in the region is aimed at containing China and, to some extent, Russia. In the event of the destruction of the North Korean regime, the United States would lose most of the rationale for their military presence in South Korea. And, of course, they would be face to face with China. I think that the current regime in North Korea serves the interests of the U.S. and their forward military presence in the region, at least for now. Of course, a regime in the North that was friendly to the U.S. would be more convenient, but neither Russia nor China would allow this (not to mention North Korea itself). The North Korean regime is presently stable. The only means to force a regime change would be an external military intervention, which many countries would object to. Especially now that North Korea has become a de facto nuclear state, military intervention can lead to nuclear war!
Charles Knight: To generalize, you are saying that with no peace on the Korean peninsula the U.S. can keep its alliances with Japan and South Korea strong, and through the alliances, Washington maintains its influence on Japan and South Korea. Right?
Anastasia Barannikova: That’s it! I’m sure that in North Korea they understand their role assigned by the “big powers.” At the same time they have their own vision of their country’s role and place in the world that may conflict with those assigned by “big powers.” They assess all the risks accordingly.
Charles Knight: Have you been worried about a preventive war being launched by Trump? Or do you think Washington will be deterred from pursuing that option?
Anastasia Barannikova: I’ve heard opinions of many experts from different countries that Trump is more unpredictable than Kim Jong Un. Of course, I am worried about it, but I prefer to think that it is just the “madman tactic” of persuasion.
Charles Knight: I want to explore with you what seems like the most realistic arms limitation that could be achieved in the near future: North Korea suspending further development and testing of their inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM).
Anastasia Barannikova: I think it is possible only if North Korea feels safe. They consider an ICBM equipped with a nuclear warhead as their main deterrent. It deters by way of its very existence. In order for it to be an effective deterrent, they see the need to demonstrate its abilities in the course of test firings.
Charles Knight: When I was in Vladivostok you said that North Korea might do an atmospheric nuclear test soon after the Olympics. Why do you think so? Why do they feel the need to do such a test? Other de facto nuclear powers such as Pakistan and India have not done so.
Anastasia Barannikova: As I have said, ICBMs serve in North Korea’s security calculus as a deterrent. It is extremely difficult to use them in practice given anti-ballistic missile systems and other factors. Consequently they consider the use of a high-atmospheric hydrogen bomb explosion that generates an electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) as a defensive shield in the event of an attack by the U.S. North Korea needs to test this, making sure that they can deliver and explode a nuclear device at the necessary altitude. Such a demonstrative test would put the U.S. on notice that many of its long-range high-tech military assets could be made inoperable, at least temporarily, by North Korean defenses.
Charles Knight: Why wouldn’t other new nuclear states, for instance Pakistan or India, want to do high-atmospheric tests?
Anastasia Barannikova: They have different nuclear doctrines related to different potential enemies and different theatre conditions. Pakistan has more nuclear warheads than North Korea and can carry out “massive retaliation.” The very possibility of this retaliation is a deterrent factor for India, which shares a land border with Pakistan. North Korea’s enemy—the U.S.—is located very far away and these two countries do not have a common border. The difference in technological levels between North Korea and the U.S. is larger than that between Pakistan and India. The U.S. is very technologically advanced, but that makes its military dependent on its advanced electronic equipment. The best weapon to use against a large-scale U.S attack, the North Koreans believe, is an EMP generated by a thermonuclear device.
Charles Knight: How do you think North Korea will test and demonstrate this high-altitude nuclear capability?
Anastasia Barannikova: There are several options for the North Korea short of exploding a thermonuclear device over the Pacific. I believe they already have the capacity to miniaturize nuclear devices and mount them on ballistic missiles. They can perfect their devices using computer modeling and subcritical tests as other countries do. They just need to test and prove their ability to deliver a nuclear device to a certain altitude. Such a demonstration does not require the explosion of a hydrogen bomb in the atmosphere.
Charles Knight: Last year the Russian Foreign Ministry proposed a “double freeze”—suspension of this year’s joint South Korea-U.S. military exercises in exchange for the suspension by North Korea of new nuclear weapon tests and missile tests. A variation of this idea was also proposed by the Chinese government. The recent Olympic Truce resulted in a de facto freeze. That was followed by high-level talks between North and South and agreement by North Korea to continue their freeze on tests as long as there are direct talks with the United States addressing security guarantees and normalization of relations. The North Koreans appeared to be willing to put aside the issue of canceling this year’s joint military exercise, but we know they consider them to be provocative and threatening. What modifications in those exercises would address their legitimate security concerns and help the peace process?
Anastasia Barannikova: North Korea’s biggest concern about the exercises is the current Operation Plan which includes strikes on vital national assets in North Korea and a “decapitation strike” designed to take out top leadership. In addition, the exercises have involved nuclear aircraft carriers and bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons. North Korea perceives this as a serious offensive nuclear threat. But the most provocative is the decapitation strike. If we keep in mind the specific role of leadership in Korean society, it is no surprise that the notion of “decapitation strikes” produces outrage towards the U.S. even among ordinary people. If the U.S. and South Korea change the agenda of the exercises and move them away from the Korean peninsula, it will have a positive effect. [According to the South Korean newspaper Hankyoreh, on March 8 “a senior (ROK) Defense Ministry official” said that U.S. aircraft carriers will not be participating in this year’s joint exercises. The official added that there was no confirmation from the U.S. as to whether nuclear submarines would take part.]
Charles Knight: You have written that North Korea is especially offended when the U.S. includes nuclear bombers in their exercises. Correct?
Anastasia Barannikova: Yes, because it contradicts the calls of many countries including the U.S. to denuclearize the Korean peninsula—by bringing U.S. nukes to the peninsula while at the same time telling North Korea to give up its nukes.
Charles Knight: That is a perspective that is almost entirely missing here. By threatening nuclear strikes the U.S. is actually contributing to the nuclearization of North East Asia. Why is that so important to people in the region?
Anastasia Barannikova: Nobody in the region has ever wanted nuclear war. In the past periods of temporary normalization of relations, the two Koreas separately and jointly tried to promote denuclearization initiatives. Many people across the globe have mistakenly thought about denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula as only pertaining to nuclear disarmament of North Korea. But what about U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea [withdrawn in 1991], the inclusion of nuclear weapons in joint exercises, and the nuclear umbrella guarantee extended to South Korea by the U.S. ever since the Korean War? A nation that enjoys (or suffers from) such nuclear-umbrella guarantees does not qualify as “non-nuclear.” From this perspective, South Korea has long been nuclear, and it was the U.S. that first made the Korean peninsula nuclear. As no country ever offered the same guarantees to North Korea, it decided to develop its own weapons. Facing hostility from the U.S. and absent a peace treaty, North Koreans have felt they had no better option. Given the fact that we cannot reverse the nuclear status of North Korea, we (Russia, the U.S., China, Japan, and both Korean states) should work on preventing further proliferation in northeast Asia.
Charles Knight: For a concluding question I ask you to suggest, based on your understanding of North Korean perspectives, steps that each of the countries with the greatest interests in the Korean situation (the U.S, China, Russia, Japan, and, of course, South Korea and North Korea) can do in the coming months to build toward a Korea that enjoys a peaceful future.
Anastasia Barannikova: The U.S. can reduce and/or modify its exercises in the region: changing their agenda, locating them away from the peninsula, and take other measures to persuade North Korea they are not directed against its sovereignty and top leadership. It would be a significant signal. And, of course, the U.S. needs to engage in direct talks with North Korea without any pre-conditions.
As for Russia, we should be more active in our relations to the Korean peninsula keeping in mind that historically we paid little attention to Korea before it was annexed by Japan and as a result, our interests in the region were seriously damaged. We can start by prioritizing our trans-Korean projects of economic cooperation.
China should recognize that its former “younger brother” has grown up and treat North Korea as an equal. It should support the further development of inter-Korean relations rather than interfering in Korean affairs for “divide and control.”
Japan should stop using the current situation in Korea to justify its current program of remilitarization and changes to its “peace constitution.”
As for the Koreas, it will be enough to keep the positive dynamics of negotiations going forward. Serious steps would be: reducing hostile rhetoric directed at each other and reopening trans-border economic zones. South Korea can also lift its own sanctions against North Korea. North Korea should be more flexible and open to different channels of diplomacy: for instance, Track II dialogue with the U.S.
All said, the above will contribute to stability in northeast Asia. Much depends on the Korean states. They are the driving force. As for Russia, China, the U.S., and Japan, our best contribution will be to avoid interference in the rapprochement of the Koreas.
Charles Knight is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy, Washington, DC, New York City, NY, and Cambridge, MA. He can be reached at Anastasia O. Barannikova is a research fellow at the Center for Maritime International Studies, Admiral Nevelskoy Maritime State University, Vladivostok, Russia. She is completing her PhD in history. Photo: North Korean ballistic missile (Wikimedia Commons).


Posted: 18 Mar 2018 05:39 AM PDT
A floração das cerejeiras está chegando no Japão. A previsão em Tokyo é que o sakura comece a mostrar suas primeiras pétalas no dia 20 de Março. Já em Sapporo, ao norte do Japão, só no final de Abril.
A HIS BRASIL TURISMO montou um pacote especial para visitar os principais pontos de floração da cerejeira, partindo no dia 29 de Março de São Paulo. Mais informações, clique aqui.

©Yasufumi Nishi/© JNTO ©Yasufumi Nishi/© JNTO
Sabe onde estão os melhores points para ver as cerejeiras em Tokyo? Saiba neste video aqui:

China forms new economic team as President Xi kicks off second term

Yi Gang, deputy governor of the People's Bank of China (PBOC), talks to the media at the Great Hall of the People during the seventh plenary session of the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, China March 19, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer
19 Mar 2018 04:08PM

·  BEIJING: China elevated a key confidante of President Xi Jinping to one of the top positions in government on Monday (Mar 19) as Beijing cracks down on riskier financing and a debt build-up that may pose systemic risks to the world's second-largest economy.
The endorsement of Liu He as a vice premier by the country's parliament also comes as the United States presses China to cut its trade surplus by US$100 billion. Harvard-educated Liu, 66, was the most prominent envoy to visit Washington recently to prevent the outbreak of a trade war.
While most of the personnel changes on the government's economic team were widely anticipated, the choice of Yi Gang as the new head of the People's Bank of China (PBOC) was unexpected.
Yi is a vice governor of PBOC and a protege of outgoing chief Zhou Xiaochuan. His appointment is seen as pointing to continuity in monetary policy even as one of the world's biggest central banks is gaining considerable new regulatory powers.
Yi will have a weighty first test - the US Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates on March 21, a day after China's annual parliament ends, and markets are keen to see if the PBOC follows with a modest move of its own.
The head of a newly merged banking and insurance regulator is also expected to be announced on Monday. Reform-minded Guo Shuqing, 61, the current chair of the China Banking Regulatory Commission, is viewed as the leading candidate.
Liu He is expected to help improve supervision and coordination among regulators and the central bank to fend off financial risks, as head of the cabinet-level Financial Stability and Development Commission (FSDC).
That would put Liu on a similar standing with former economic tsar Zhu Rongji, known for his tough handling of hyperinflation and the economic chaos in the 1990s. 
Zhu held both the posts of vice premier and central bank governor simultaneously from 1993 to 1995, and went on to become China's premier in 1998-2003.
As Xi begins his second five-year term as president, Beijing is streamlining regulators and ministries to reduce inefficiencies while expanding the remit of others such as the central bank to boost their policymaking powers.
Xi has also promoted top graft-buster Wang Qishan, a major ally, to the post of vice president.
"China's ministries are giant, nationwide silos and fiefdoms that never talk to one another. Hence, in order to accomplish anything major, the command must come from the top down; only they can get ministries to work together," Cliff Tan, East Asian head of global markets research at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, said in a note.
"Such a setup nearly guarantees the continuation of power that is never devolved, otherwise nothing would get done."
Liu has a deep understanding of the country's economic issues, and was elected last October into the 25-member Politburo, the second-highest tier in Beijing's political power structure after the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee.
Liu won a top Chinese economics study award in 2015 for his research on the global financial crisis, and is widely seen as masterminding Xi's supply-side reforms which are cutting excess factory capacity and pivoting the economy away from low-value industries.
Liu, who speaks fluent English, gained a master's degree in public administration at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government in 1995.
He had been the head of the General Office of the ruling Communist Party's Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs and a vice minister of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) - China's top economic planner.
US-educated Yi Gang, 60, has been vice PBOC governor since 2008. He is seen as instrumental in steering monetary and currency policy, including the landmark devaluation of the yuan in 2015 and more recently a tightening in capital controls.
The PBOC and other regulators are trying to rein in risks from an increasingly complex financial system and a rapid build-up in debt without jolting markets or hurting economic growth.
"The main task right now is to implement prudent monetary policy, push forward financial sector reform and opening up, and keep the financial sector stable," Yi told reporters on the sidelines of Monday's parliament session.
But Yi is not regarded as a heavyweight like his boss Zhou, and he may play a supportive role with Liu overseeing the economy and finance sector on the whole, some economists say.
Yi's nomination is "a bit unexpected as he holds a relatively low political ranking as the alternative member of CPC Central Committee," said Tommy Xie, China economist at OCBC Bank in Singapore. The committee is the largest of the party's elite decision-making bodies.
"In terms of implication, we see policy continuation as Yi will support Liu He to drive economic reform. Both are the main drivers of China's reform in the past few years," Xie said.
Yi, one of the highest-ranking "sea turtles" - a colloquialism for Chinese returning from overseas - has a PhD in economics from the University of Illinois. He was also the head of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) from 2009 to 2016.
With Yi's background and his reputation of being pro-reform, his nomination would be good news for foreign investors, Xie said.
Zhou, 70, who is China's longest-running central bank head, having taken the job in 2002, is expected to announce his retirement soon.
Separately, Liu Kun, head of the budget office of parliament, was picked to be the new finance minister, replacing Xiao Jie. Liu was formerly a vice finance minister.
Zhong Shan kept his portfolio as the commerce minister. He Lifeng was also chosen to stay as the head of NDRC.
(Reporting by Shu Zhang and Christian Shepherd; Additional reporting by Kevin Yao and Lusha Zhang; Writing by Ryan Woo; Editing by Sam Holmes and Kim Coghill)
Source: Reuters

La prensa china alude a Xi Jinping como lo hacía con Mao Zedong

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·         19 MAR. 2018 05:33

Hu Chunhua, Han Zheng, Sun Chunlan y Liu He, este lunes en Pekín. FRED DUFOURAFP-

El presidente coloca a sus aliados más fieles en puestos claves del poder
El parlamento chino ratificó este lunes el nombramiento de Liu He como nuevo viceprimer ministro y de Yi Yang como titular del Banco Central del país en un enésimo paso dirigido a establecer un aparato del poder repleto de aliados del presidente Xi Jinping.
Liu He, considerado el cerebro de la política económica apadrinada por Xi Jinping, ya fue incorporado al listado de 25 integrantes del Politburó del Partido Comunista Chino (PCC) -la segunda entidad más importante en la estructura política de este país- el pasado mes de octubre y se ha convertido en una de los personajes con más proyección política para el futuro, según muchos analistas.
Junto a Wang Qishan, el nuevo vicepresidente, Liu He se suma a un estrecho círculo de afines a Xi Jinping que ahora desempeñan papeles claves en la gestión del PCC y el estado chino, que incluye también el nombramiento este domingo de Yang Xiaodu, otro acólito del mandatario, como jefe de la influyente Comisión de Supervisión Nacional, una institución creada para reforzar la lucha anticorrupción abanderada por Xi, que además le ha servido para eliminar a todos sus rivales políticos.
La actual convocatoria de la Asamblea Nacional Popular -el parlamento local- ha servido para consolidar aún más el ingente poder que atesora ahora el dirigente chino cuya figura empieza a ser comparada por la propia prensa afín al PCC a la de Mao Zedong, al menos según la terminología que han recuperado en sus artículos dedicados a la loa del mandatario.
Este domingo los principales diarios del país se veían dominados por una enorme foto de Xi Jinping y editoriales que le citaban como el nuevo "timonel" del país, el término más emblemático que se adjudicó a Mao Zedong durante su era.
"El viaje de un gran país no se puede hacer sin un timonel", escribió el Diario del Pueblo, mientras que otro matutino decía que era el "guía del pueblo".
Xinhua, la agencia oficial, se refirió a él como el "lingxiu" (líder), una palabra de tono reverencial que se usó para designar a Mao y que después quedó en desuso al igual que el culto a la personalidad que acompañó a su égida y que parece haber regresado al escenario chino.
La consolidación de la era Xi se produce al mismo tiempo que se deterioran las relaciones entre Pekín y Washington, ante los aranceles que el presidente Donald Trump parece querer imponer a todo un largo listado de productos chinos y su reciente decisión de aprobar una normativa que permitirá los viajes de altos funcionarios de EEUU a Taiwan.
China ha reaccionado con especial virulencia verbal ante esta última decisión acusando a EEUU de fomentar el "independentismo" en lo que considera una provincia rebelde.
Un general retirado, Xu Guangyu, aseguró hoy al periódico Global Times que esa ley "es una provocación política seria que ha cruzado la línea roja y va a socavar de forma acusada las relaciones" bilaterales, mientras que otros analistas citados en el mismo texto abogaban por reforzar la presión militar en torno a la isla.
El propio ministerio de Exteriores chino ha indicado que si EEUU realmente envía a representantes de alto rango a Taiwán las relaciones diplomáticas sufrirían "un daño severo".



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The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 06, 2018     

March 15
, 2018

New Articles

Izumi Kyōka Translated and With an Introduction By Nina Cornyetz 

Dadolin Murak with introduction and notes by David Webster


Noriko Manabe

Inoue Shin, translated and introduced by Sachie Mizohata


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Australasian Association of Buddhist Studies (AABS)
Dear list members,

Our next seminar will be at 6:00-7:30pm on Thursday March 22 in Lecture Theater S325 of the John Woolley Building, University of Sydney.

We hope you can attend.

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AABS Executive

Facts or Fakes? Reconsidering Śāntideva’s Names, Life, and Works

Śāntideva (c. 690-750) was an Indian Buddhist monk, philosopher, talented Sanskrit poet, and thinker on the conduct of a Mahāyāna practitioner. His life, works, and activities in Nālandā are explained in detail in several Tibetan hagiographies as well as Vibhūticandra’s commentary on the Bodhicaryāvatāra. Bu-ston’s History of Buddhism (1322) speaks of the hagiography as follows: Śāntideva is known by his seven wonderful stories, i.e., stories of his (1) tutelary deity, (2) activity in Nālandā, (3) victory over the heretics in the east, (4) converting 500 adherents of the heretical teaching in the west of Magadha to Buddhism, (5) feeding thousands of beggars in that country, (6) help to a king in the east, and (7) victory over a heretic teacher called *Śaṅkaradeva in the south. According to the above two stories (1) and (2), first, Śāntideva or Zhi ba(‘i) lha is the name given when he took orders in Nālandā, who had two other names, *Śāntivarman as a youth and Bhu-su-ku as a nickname. Second, he is said to have written three works, i.e., Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra, Śikṣāsamuccaya, and Sūtrasamuccaya. Third, concerning the Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra, three different versions were transmitted. Of those three versions, the second story tells that Śāntideva regarded the Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra of 1000 verses as an authentic text. Although slightly different stories appear in other Tibetan hagiographies and Vibhūticandra’s commentary on the Bodhicaryāvatāra, Bu-ston’s above stories are most detailed. However, in mid 1980s the early smallest version of the Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra composed of totally 702.5 verses was discovered in the Tibetan manuscripts from Dūn-huáng, which has driven us to reconsider at least the above three points regarding Śāntideva’s names and works. Therefore, based on the above materials and related studies, this paper reconsiders Śāntideva’s names, life, and works.

Akira Saito is Professor at International College for Postgraduate Buddhist Studies and Director of International Institute for Buddhist Studies in Tokyo. Professor Emeritus at the University of Tokyo. He is the author of A Study of Akṣayamati (=Śāntideva)’s Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra as Found in the Tibetan Manuscripts from Tun-huang and a number articles related to Mādhyamika Thought and History.

Buddhist reliquary stupa

Gold leaf covered schist reliquary in the form of a stupa.  Kusana period, North Western India. National Museum, Karachi, Pakistan. Copyright: Huntington, John C. and Susan L.Huntington Archive