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

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs