News / Asia

    Pyongyang Furthers US Strategic Goals to China's Dismay

    Sgt. Lauren Colantropo (L) and Cpl. Andrew Allen re-install an  infrared radar sensor on a  fighter jet aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard in Subic Bay, Philippines, in this October 7, 2012 handout photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy.Sgt. Lauren Colantropo (L) and Cpl. Andrew Allen re-install an infrared radar sensor on a fighter jet aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard in Subic Bay, Philippines, in this October 7, 2012 handout photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy.
    x
    Sgt. Lauren Colantropo (L) and Cpl. Andrew Allen re-install an  infrared radar sensor on a  fighter jet aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard in Subic Bay, Philippines, in this October 7, 2012 handout photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy.
    Sgt. Lauren Colantropo (L) and Cpl. Andrew Allen re-install an infrared radar sensor on a fighter jet aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard in Subic Bay, Philippines, in this October 7, 2012 handout photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy.
    Reuters
    Nobody but Kim Jong Un knows what he hopes to achieve with his saber-rattling campaign, but the young North Korean leader probably didn't set out to aid the United States, the sworn enemy of three generations of Kims, at the expense of his country's main ally, China.
           
    In a boon for U.S. policy that can only add to China's frustration with Kim, North Korean bellicosity has helped reinforce an American strategy of rebalancing its security policies toward the Asia-Pacific region.

    To a China that often sounds more wary of Washington than of Pyongyang, months of North Korean missile and nuclear tests followed by a daily stream of bloodthirsty war threats may be worrisome, but the U.S. reaction is even more troubling.
           
    "We understand what kind of regime North Korea is, but we also understand that North Korea is playing games,'' said Sun Zhe, director of the Center for U.S-China Relations at Beijing's Tsinghua University.
           
    "Most importantly, we are complaining that the United States is using military drills as an excuse to continue to do this [rebalancing], putting up B-2s and other advanced weapons systems,'' he said.
           
    B-2 and B-52 bombers, radar-evading F-22s and anti-missile system vessels like the USS John S. McCain represented the initial U.S. response to North Korea's repeated, explicit threats to launch nuclear strikes against the United States.
           
    The U.S. also said it would shift THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System) to defend Guam from missile attack. And Tokyo's Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said Japan would permanently deploy Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) anti-missile systems in Okinawa to counter North Korean missiles.

    China laments chaos for 'self gain'

    The U.S. deployments, although focused on North Korea and mostly temporary, could be adapted or expanded to counter the extensive array of anti-access military capabilities Beijing has built up to delay or prevent the arrival of American forces to areas near China in the event of conflict.
           
    Chinese President Xi Jinping may have underscored Chinese ambivalence when he did not specifically name North Korea when he said no country "should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gain.''

    Xi's remarks at the Davos-like Bo'ao Forum on the Chinese island of Hainan might have been targeting Washington as well as Pyongyang, reflecting Chinese unease at the U.S. "rebalancing'' or "pivot'' policy of winding down wars in Southwest Asia and paying renewed attention to the Asia-Pacific region.
          
    "In China, it's widely believed that the pivot is a containment strategy of China. Almost everyone sees it as that,'' Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt, a Beijing-based China analyst for the International Crisis Group.

    In a talk in Washington explaining the rebalancing policy and the Pentagon's response to North Korea, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter did not mince words in addressing Chinese complaints.

    "North Korea's behavior is causing not just the United States, but others in the region to take action,'' he told the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    "If the Chinese find [in] them the kinds of things they don't like to see, there's an easy way to address that, which is to talk to the North Koreans about stopping these provocations,'' said Carter.
     
    Diplomatic challenge for Kerry

    Carter was forceful and unapologetic in presenting the rebalancing as a continuation of post-war U.S. policy that allowed allies Japan and South Korea, followed by Southeast Asia, China and India "to develop politically and economically in a climate that has been free from conflicts.''
          
    "It's good for us and it's good for everyone in the region. And it includes everyone in the region. It's not aimed at anyone, no individual country or group of countries,'' he said.
      
    Carter said the coming drawdown of forces from Afghanistan would allow the U.S. Navy to shift to the Pacific region surface combatant ships, carriers and other intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance vessels.
           
    Analysts who accept the rebalancing as based on sound geo-strategic principles nevertheless say Pentagon statements and force deployments should not be the most visible face of the Obama administration's core Asia policy.
           
    "We've oversold the military and undersold the diplomatic and economic components of the integrated strategy of the rebalance,'' said Douglas Paal, a former U.S. official who heads Asian Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
           
    "The reaction we're getting from China is 'they're coming to get us, we've got to respond, we've got to step up our military development,''' he said.
           
    When Secretary of State John Kerry visits China, Japan and South Korea later this week in his first trip to the region as the top U.S. diplomat, he will need to adjust his rebalancing sales pitch to China while he engages in Korea crisis diplomacy.
           
    That will be a tall order in Beijing, where new President Xi is consolidating his rule with a political and military elite that is highly suspicious of U.S. motives.
       
    "When the economic, political and cultural elements were tacked on to the pivot, the Chinese said 'oh, so now we're being encircled economically, politically and culturally, too,'' said Kleine-Ahlbrandt.
           
    "The problem with trying to disabuse someone of a conspiracy theory is that any argument you make becomes part of the conspiracy, so I don't know if it's possible to convince the Chinese that it's not about encircling them,'' she said.

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.