News / USA

    North Korea Tops Kerry's Asia Agenda

    North Koreans attend a rally against the United States and South Korea in Nampo, April 3, 2013.
    North Koreans attend a rally against the United States and South Korea in Nampo, April 3, 2013.
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) shakes hands with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong before their meeting in Washington, April 3, 2013.U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) shakes hands with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong before their meeting in Washington, April 3, 2013.
    x
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) shakes hands with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong before their meeting in Washington, April 3, 2013.
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) shakes hands with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong before their meeting in Washington, April 3, 2013.
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry travels to Asia next week for talks on how best to deal with an increasingly aggressive North Korea. China once again has a central role in approaching the reclusive state.

    For all of what he calls North Korea's "dangerous and reckless" threats, Kerry said Pyongyang can still negotiate its way out of international isolation over its nuclear program.

    "They can come back to the table and join all of those other countries, including their nearest neighbor and partner China. Obviously they share nearest-neighbor [status] with the Republic of Korea, but China which has such an important role to play and which has always maintained a closer relationship to the North than any other country," he said.

    It is that relationship that has long made China key to U.S. efforts to end North Korea's nuclear threat, and will once again dominate Kerry's agenda in Beijing, said Doug Paal, director of the Asia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

    "The United States would hope that China would do a lot of things to restrain the flow of energy and food to North Korea to get their attention," he said. "Hold back on new investment in various businesses in North Korea. Those all run against China's primary interest in North Korea, which is to provide for stability there. So we have a very fundamental difference."

    A difference that Paal said is being debated in China like never before, including by senior army officers and by some in the new government. Among them is incoming Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who guided Chinese diplomacy at the six-party talks with North Korea, South Korea, Russia, Japan and the United States.

    "So we've got a competent, knowledgeable guy who, I can tell you, in private is prepared to say some tough things about North Korea that others in the Chinese government don't like to say," Paal said.

    Cato Institute analyst Justin Logan said Beijing's reluctance is based in part on Chinese concerns about U.S. gains on an ultimately reunified Korean peninsula.

    "The Chinese don't say this publicly a lot, but they're very, very concerned about the prospect of a unified Korea with American military garrisons on their border," he said. "That is a military problem that the Chinese think is important."

    So far, China appears to share U.S. concerns about the belligerence of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, by backing tougher United Nations sanctions and by calling for more talks to resolve the standoff.

    Jim Schoff is a former U.S. Defense Department official for Asia who is now a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment. He said the United States, China and South Korea could propose general-officer talks to reinstate an armistice from which North Korea just withdrew as a way of showing their wish to de-escalate the crisis.

    "Seoul is trying to improve its relationship with China as well. Some in the region have been concerned that South Korea is going to turn away from the United States and Japan and turn toward China. Well, that's not such a bad thing if that relationship improves," he said.

    Schoff said there is considerable economic gain for China in a more prosperous North Korea.

    "They are really just a blight or a ghetto sitting amidst an incredibly wealthy and productive part of the world," he added. "The potential, if you create that land bridge between the mainland and a dynamic South Korea and linked to Japan and other countries the economic potential in that region for China's northeast and for Russia's far east, is tremendous."

    Schoff said that is an opportunity for U.S. diplomacy.

    "What is the potential, down the line, for thinking differently about the geopolitics of that region? A very difficult conversation for China to have, but perhaps getting easier as the years go by," he said.

    In addition to Beijing, Kerry will also visit Seoul and Tokyo on next week's trip. Before traveling to Asia, he will visit Turkey, Israel, the Palestinian territory and London.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora