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Asia Unbound

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Showing posts for "Scott A. Snyder"

The U.S.-DPRK Hostage Stalemate

by Scott A. Snyder
kenneth-bae-interview Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American Christian missionary who has been detained in North Korea for more than a year, appears before a limited number of media outlets in Pyongyang in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on January 20, 2014 (KCNA/Courtesy: Reuters).

Note: This post was published prior to Matthew Miller’s trial. On Sunday, September 14, Miller was found guilty in North Korean court and sentenced to six years’ hard labor.

North Korea has announced the trial next week of Matthew Miller, an American currently detained in North Korea for ripping up his tourist visa and claiming asylum. This announcement follows interviews last week on CNN that the DPRK hurriedly arranged with Miller, detained tourist Jeffrey Fowle, and convicted American Kenneth Bae, who have become three American pawns in the ongoing nuclear standoff between Washington and Pyongyang. Read more »

Park Geun-hye’s “Correct View of History” With Japan

by Scott A. Snyder
park-geun-hye-8-15 speech South Korean president Park Geun-hye speaks in Seoul on August 15, 2014, during a ceremony marking the 69th anniversary of liberation from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule (Ahn Young-joon/Courtesy: Reuters).

The August 15 anniversary of the end of World War II—when the Korean peninsula gained independence from Japanese colonial rule—is not just a time of reflection on  the legacy and costs of that war; it is also a perennially sensitive diplomatic moment in Northeast Asia.  The festering political disconnect between Park Geun-hye and Shinzo Abe, allies of the United States who have been thus far unable to meet each other bilaterally heightens the importance of such a moment. Read more »

Northeast Asian Security Architecture: Lessons from European History

by Scott A. Snyder
William Alberque, Cho Nam Hoon, Morimoto Satoshi, Pan Zhenqiang, and Scott Snyder participate in a panel at the conference, "Northeast Asia Peace and Security Initiative and the European Experience of CSBM," co-hosted by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies and Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Lars Erik Lundin, William Alberque, Cho Nam Hoon, Morimoto Satoshi, Pan Zhenqiang, and Scott Snyder participate in a panel at the conference, "Northeast Asia Peace and Security Initiative and the European Experience of CSBM," co-hosted by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies and Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Courtesy: Darcie Draudt).

Henry Kissinger offered a sobering observation last February in Munich when he suggested that the uptick in geopolitical rivalry between China and Japan reminded him of nineteenth century Europe. Mindful of the negative consequences of such a conflict for his own country, South Korea’s foreign minister Yun Byung-se referenced Kissinger’s observation in the opening to his own speech last week at a conference in Seoul, co-sponsored by the Asan Institute and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The conference explicitly sought lessons from Europe’s past experience with establishment of Confidence and Security Building Mechanisms (CSBMs) for Park Geun-hye’s Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative (NAPCI), a proposal to institutionalize a process for promoting multilateral cooperation that Park is promoting as a solution to the severe distrust in the region. Read more »

Can Beijing and Seoul Become Strategic Partners?

by Scott A. Snyder
park-xi-2013 South Korean president Park Geun-Hye (right) and Chinese president Xi Jinping inspect Chinese honor guards during a welcoming ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on June 27, 2013. Park visited China in June 2013, and Xi will pay a return visit to Seoul this week (Wang Zhao/Courtesy: Reuters).

China’s President Xi Jinping will complete an exchange of state visits with South Korean President Park Geun-hye in the space of a little less than a year. This is a remarkable intensification of the relationship between Seoul and Beijing, especially when one considers that Xi Jinping has yet to visit Pyongyang or receive Kim Jong-un. Likewise, routinized summits between Seoul and Tokyo have vanished as Seoul-Beijing relations have intensified, raising questions in Tokyo about whether Seoul might prefer Beijing over the United States and Japan. But despite a burgeoning trade relationship between Seoul and Beijing that is larger than the combined value of South Korea’s trade with the United States and Japan, what future can Xi and Park forge for China-South Korea relations going forward, and to what purpose? Read more »

Sour Notes from China on the U.S. Rebalance to Asia

by Scott A. Snyder
xi-jinping-cica Chinese president Xi Jinping delivers a speech to the media during the fourth Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) summit, in Shanghai on May 21, 2014 (Aly Song/Courtesy: Reuters).

I spent a week in China early this month on the heels of the Shangri-La Dialogue and amidst rising tensions in the South China Sea following China’s placement of an oil rig in disputed waters near Vietnam. Instead of spending time “inside the ring roads” of Beijing with America-handlers practiced at making careful judgments about the China-U.S. relationship, I visited a few regional cities where the Chinese views of the U.S. rebalancing policy that I heard were harsh and unvarnished. This mood parallels Liz Economy’s assessment last month of the growing misconnect in U.S.-China relations. Read more »

The Park-Xi Honeymoon and the Limits of China’s Patience With North Korea

by Scott A. Snyder
park xi summit june 2013 South Korean president Park Geun-hye and her Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping attend a joint declaration ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on June 27, 2013. Park and Xi have often met throughout the past year at multilateral summits, including the Nuclear Security Summit at The Hague in March 2014 (Wang Zhao/Courtesy: Reuters).

A major foreign policy achievement that has thus far been credited to Park Geun-hye during her first year in office has been the establishment of a stronger foundation for good relations with China. Park received a warm welcome from China’s president Xi Jinping during a state visit to Beijing last summer and Park and Xi have routinely made time for each other at multilateral summits, most recently on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit at The Hague. The hospitality afforded to Park stands in stark contrast both to the tensions that had characterized Sino-South Korean relations under Lee Myung-Bak and China’s treatment of Kim Jong-un, who remains in the dog house with Xi following nuclear and missile tests staged in the early stages of Xi’s term as President of China. Read more »

Is It Really Possible To Get Back To Six Party Talks?

by Scott A. Snyder
6PT 2006 Top envoys from six countries join hands on the eve of the resumption of Six Party Talks in Beijing on December 17, 2006. Pictured, from left, are South Korea's Chung Yung-Woo, Japan's Kenichiro Sasae, the United States' Christopher Hill, China's Wu Dawei, North Korea's Kim Kye-Gwan and Russia's Sergey Razov (Frederic J. Brown/Courtesy: Reuters).

At her joint press conference with President Barack Obama last month in Seoul, South Korean president Park Geun-hye stated against the backdrop of apparent preparations by North Korea to conduct a fourth nuclear test that such a test could trigger a nuclear arms race and would spell the end of efforts to resume Six Party Talks. South Korean foreign minister Yun Byung-se subsequently said that a fourth North Korean nuclear test would be a “gamechanger.” North Korea appears to have delayed plans for a test that many had expected might be timed to coincide with President Obama’s visit to Asia, but all indications are that North Korea is poised to go ahead with a fourth test at any time. Read more »

Obama and Park: Political Leadership Needed in the Face of Crisis

by Scott A. Snyder
park-on-sewol South Korean president Park Geun-hye speaks to family members of missing passengers who were on South Korean ferry Sewol, which sank at the sea off Jindo, during her visit to a gym in Jindo where family members gathered, on April 17, 2014. President Park said on Monday the actions of some crew of the ferry that sank with hundreds feared dead were tantamount to murder, as a four-year-old video transcript showed the captain promoting the safety of the same route (Kim Hong-Ji/Courtesy: Reuters).

Rumors of an impending North Korean nuclear test have more than justified President Obama’s decision to add South Korea to his agenda during his trip to Asia this week. Rather than discussing security challenges, it would not be surprising if the American and South Korean leaders spend most of their time commiserating with each other over the limits and obstacles their respective governments are facing against high public expectations. Read more »

Obama’s Mission in Asia: Bring the Allies Together

by Scott A. Snyder
park-obama-abe-at-the-hague U.S. president Barack Obama hosted a trilateral meeting with South Korean president Park Geun-hye Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe after the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague on March 25, 2014 (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy: Reuters).

President Obama took an important step before this week’s visit to Asia by bringing together Japanese and South Korean leaders for a trilateral summit at The Hague a few weeks ago. That meeting sent a crucial message that the president should hammer home at every opportunity in Asia this week: for the Obama administration’s rebalancing strategy toward Asia to be successful, America and its allies must work more closely with each other. Read more »

How to Spot A Shadowy North Korean Business

by Scott A. Snyder
Workers are seen inside a North Korean flagged ship Chong Chon Gang docked at the Manzanillo Container Terminal in Colon City on July 16, 2013. Panama detained the North Korean–flagged ship from Cuba as it headed to the Panama Canal and said it was hiding weapons in brown sugar containers, sparking a standoff in which the ship's captain attempted to commit suicide (Carlos Jasso/Courtesy: Reuters). Workers are seen inside a North Korean flagged ship Chong Chon Gang docked at the Manzanillo Container Terminal in Colon City on July 16, 2013. Panama detained the North Korean–flagged ship from Cuba as it headed to the Panama Canal and said it was hiding weapons in brown sugar containers, sparking a standoff in which the ship's captain attempted to commit suicide (Carlos Jasso/Courtesy: Reuters).

The latest UN Panel of Experts report reveals that North Korean businesses connected with the illicit arms trade are most effective when they hide their North Korean colors and blend in to the international trading environment as nondescript entities. Their North Korean origins may be concealed by a web of false fronts, dizzying name changes, and layered ownership structures that distance them from their North Korean origins. In other cases, some North Korean companies may continue to operate openly despite having been sanctioned by the UN. Without sufficient due diligence, unwitting companies could be doing business with North Korean firms in violation of UN sanctions on North Korean nuclear, missile, and conventional arms traders. Read more »