The Pentagon plans new joint naval exercises with ally South Korea that will send a U.S. aircraft carrier into the Yellow Sea, between China and the Korean peninsula. Those exercises are intended to provoke “enmity and confrontation in the Asia-Pacific region,” Yang wrote. Yang, who works at China’s National Defence University, warned that friction over the planned U.S.-South Korea naval exercise reflected broader instability in relations with Beijing, and he placed the blame at Washington’s doorstep. “Rarely has there been such wavering and chaos in U.S. policy towards China,” wrote Yang. Yang’s commentary came out a day after a similarly angry warning in the paper, suggesting expectations from the PLA for a firm response from Beijing. “Washington will inevitably pay a costly price for its muddled decision,” Yang wrote in a separate commentary on Friday in the China Daily, the country’s main English-language paper. “The risks of a collision occurring between the two countries’ navies in seas off China’s coast are escalating,” Wang Jisi, a prominent expert on China-U.S. relations at Peking University, wrote in a recent analysis.
A South Korean fishing vessel that is presumed to have sailed into the North’s exclusive economic waters is being held by North Korean authorities, the South Korea coast guard said on Sunday. Simmering tensions between the two Koreas have risen a notch in recent days with the staging of military drills by the South off the west coast, infuriating Pyongyang which threatened “physical retaliation” for the exercise. “We have found out that our fishing vessel is being investigated by North Korean officials in the presumed North Korea exclusive economic waters in northern East Sea,” the South Korean coast guard said in a statement. “The South Korean government, according to international law, wants the swift resolution to the matter and the safe return of its vessel and its fisherman.”
South Korea is due to complete a five-day exercise on Monday near a tense maritime border with communist North Korea, the site of the sinking of one of the South’s warships in March. Tensions heightened on the peninsula following the torpedoing of the Cheonan corvette, which killed 46 sailors. The South, with the backing of the United States, blamed the North for the sinking. Continue reading
Reuters | Tue Jul 20, 2010 | 1:28pm IST
China has shown off its growing military strength with naval exercises off its eastern coast, shortly before Washington and Seoul are expected to carry out their own drills which Beijing has criticised. State television broadcast images on Tuesday it said showed the East Sea Fleet on recent manoeuvres, including helicopters and a submarine launching a long-range missile underwater. It did not say exactly where or when the pictures were taken and it was not clear if they showed a drill that the official Xinhua news agency said took place over the weekend. Xinhua said four rescue helicopters and four rescue ships were deployed in the two-day drill in the Yellow Sea, where the United States and South Korea are planning manoeuvres aimed at sending a message of deterrence to North Korea. Beijing has condemned those drills, which many in China feel are also aimed at their country.
Zhu Chenghu, a strategic studies professor at the National Defence University, told the China News Service that the U.S.-South Korean drills were clearly aimed at sending Beijing a message as much as they were directed at North Korea. "They will take place in the Yellow Sea, which is the entry point to China’s house, and they obviously want to show off their military strength," he said. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates dismissed concerns on Tuesday, saying the drills were routine. Neither Xinhua nor state television mentioned the U.S.-South Korean exercises. But the official China Daily quoted experts downplaying the Chinese drill, which started on Saturday. "The nature of the drill is very different from that of the US-ROK joint military action," Beijing-based military analyst Peng Guangqian was quoted saying. China’s exercises rehearsed how to defend against long-distance attacks, as well as exploring ways to integrate troops and civilians to tackle emergencies, Xinhua said.
BBC News | Tuesday, 15 June 2010 | 23:24 GMT
North Korea says its military will respond if the UN Security Council rebukes it over an alleged torpedo attack on a Southern warship in March. In a rare news conference, the North’s UN envoy Sin Son-ho demanded that Pyongyang be allowed to send a team to investigate the sinking of the Cheonan. His comments came a day after North and South gave their versions of events to the UN in separate hearings. The US said the comments represented more "provocative behaviour". "We’re looking for North Korea to change its unacceptable behaviour, to cease belligerent actions," said White House spokesman Philip Crowley. "The last thing we want to see is further tension in the Korean peninsula."
End of diplomacy
The South is hoping for tough action from the UN, which has so far expressed "grave concern" but has not blamed either side. Mr Sin said the Security Council had so far heard only one side of the story, because the South had turned down the North’s requests to be allowed to investigate the incident. "If the Security Council release any documents against us condemning or questioning us in any document then… [as a] diplomat, I can do nothing," he said. "The follow-up measures will be carried out by our military forces."
Analysts say the Security Council still has not decided what to do, with China usually reluctant to sanction any move against its allies in Pyongyang. The warship was sunk in March, killing 46 sailors on board. Since the sinking, Seoul has suspended trade with its neighbour, to which Pyongyang responded by cutting all bilateral ties.
BBC News | Sunday, 30 May 2010 | 11:58 GMT
China has held back from censuring North Korea at a summit in South Korea dominated by the issue of a sunken warship. South Korea has accused North Korea of torpedoing the Cheonan, which sank on 26 March with the loss of 46 lives. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said the priority was to reduce tensions and avoid a clash over the incident. But he did not mention North Korea by name or show support for possible UN sanctions against Pyongyang. Mr Wen’s remarks came at a summit in Jeju Island with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. The three-nation summit was meant to focus on trade, but the sinking of the warship overshadowed other issues. Seoul says it has overwhelming evidence to show that North Korea sank the Cheonan. It is seeking a unified international response to the communist state though the UN Security Council. Japan and the US have offered South Korea their support – but it is veto-wielding China that is seen as key to what happens next.
Speaking at the talks, Mr Wen said avoiding conflict between the Koreas was "most urgent", but did not apportion blame for the sinking. "The urgent task for the moment is to properly handle the serious impact caused by the Cheonan incident, gradually defuse tensions over it and avoid possible conflicts," he said. "China will continue to work with every country through aggressive negotiations and co-operation to fulfil our mission of maintaining peace and stability in the region." China is North Korea’s closest trading partner and the nation believed to have the most influence on it. It has in the past been reluctant to take UN measures against Pyongyang out of concern it might destabilise the regime and trigger conflict or an influx of refugees across the border – but it is currently under considerable pressure to act. On Monday Mr Wen travels to Japan for more talks with Mr Hatoyama.
BBC News | Friday, 28 May 2010 | 10:43 GMT
China "will not protect" whoever sank a South Korean warship in March, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has said. "China objects to and condemns any act that destroys the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula," Mr Wen was quoted as saying after talks in Seoul. South Korea has blamed the North for sinking the Cheonan with a torpedo. Beijing is under pressure to take a strong stance against North Korea but so far has not accepted the findings of an independent investigation. "The Chinese government will decide its position by objectively and fairly judging what is right and wrong about the incident while respecting the international probe and responses to it by each nation," said Mr Wen. China has previously called for all sides to show restraint.
The BBC’s John Sudworth in Seoul says Beijing’s refusal so far to condemn its old ally has been a major source of frustration to South Korea and President Lee Myung-bak. But some in South Korea will see Mr Wen’s comments as a sign of a subtle and careful shift in position by the Beijing authorities, says our correspondent. South Korea has said an international investigation uncovered indisputable evidence that North Korea fired a torpedo at the Cheonan in March, killing 46 sailors. Investigators said they had discovered part of the torpedo on the sea floor which carried lettering that matched a North Korean design.
BBC News | Thursday, 27 May 2010 | 7:56 GMT
North Korea has announced it will scrap an agreement aimed at preventing accidental naval clashes with South Korea, amid rising tensions over the sinking of a South Korean warship. The move is in retaliation for Seoul blaming Pyongyang for a torpedo attack that sank the Cheonan in March. The announcement comes as the South Korean navy conducts a major anti-submarine drill. An international probe found the Cheonan was sunk by a Northern torpedo. North Korea has denied the allegation. In a statement on the North Korean official news agency on Thursday, the North Korean military also warned that if South Korean vessels crossed the disputed maritime border between the two countries, it would launch an immediate attack.
The BBC’s John Sudworth in Seoul says the announcement is another piece in the picture that is coming out of North Korea of increasing tension. North Korea had announced on a previous occasion that it was scrapping all previous agreements with South Korea. It also announced late on Tuesday it was cutting all ties with the South. It has also banned South Korean ships and planes from its territory. It has said it will close the last road link between North and South if South Korean loudspeaker broadcasts of propaganda across the border resume.
BBC News | Tuesday, 25 May 2010 | 15:26 GMT
North Korea is to cut all relations with South Korea, Pyongyang’s official news agency reports. KCNA said the North was also expelling all South Korean workers from a jointly-run factory north of the border. The move comes after an international report blamed North Korea for sinking a South Korean warship. Pyongyang denies it torpedoed the Cheonan near the inter-Korean maritime border on 26 March, killing 46 sailors. South Korea says it plans to refer North Korea to the UN Security Council, and is seeking a unified international response to the incident. Seoul announced on Sunday it was ending trade relations with the North in response to the sinking. It has also resumed propaganda broadcasts to the North, playing radio programmes that will soon to be broadcast via border loudspeakers.
Calls for restraint
Tuesday’s KCNA reports announcing the severing of all ties – including communications – said the North was also banning South Korean ships and planes from its territorial waters and airspace. Within a matter of days, relations between the two Koreas have returned to the freezer, says the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent, Jonathan Marcus. The diplomatic goal now will be to ensure that a renewed cold war on the Korean peninsula does not generate into a hot conflict, he adds. The US, which has thousands of troops based in South Korea, has backed Seoul, condemning the incident and confirming late on Monday that it will hold joint anti-submarine naval exercises with the country.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said Washington and Beijing must work together to "fashion an effective response" to the sinking of the Cheonan. Speaking in Beijing, Mrs Clinton said maintaining peace
BBC News | Monday, 24 May 2010 | 9:11 GMT
South Korea has suspended trade with the North and demanded an apology, after a report blamed Pyongyang for sinking a Southern warship. President Lee Myung-bak said those who carried out the attack, which killed 46 sailors, must be punished. North Korea’s main newspaper called the investigation an "intolerable, grave provocation". The White House endorsed the South’s move, and pledged its co-operation "to deter future aggression". Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged China to co-operate with the US on North Korea. Mrs Clinton told a US-China summit in Beijing that Pyongyang must be held to account for the attack on the Cheonan. "We ask North Korea to stop its provocative behaviour… and comply with international law," she added.
China is North Korea’s closest trading partner and has in the past been reluctant to take tough measures against the communist state. The North depends on South Korea and China for up to 80% of its external trade and 35% of its GDP. In 2009, inter-Korean trade stood at $1.68bn (£1.11bn) – 13% of the North’s GDP. In a strongly worded televised address, Mr Lee said that the South was forgetting that it shared a border "with one of the most war-mongering nations on Earth". "From now on, the Republic of Korea will not tolerate any provocative act by the North and will maintain a principle of proactive deterrence," the president said. "If our territorial waters, airspace or territory are militarily violated, we will immediately exercise our right of self-defence.
Under these circumstances, any inter-Korean trade or other co-operative activity is meaningless," Mr Lee said, adding that North Korean ships would no longer be allowed to use South Korean water. And he added: "I
BBC News | Friday, 21 May 2010 | 16:29 GMT
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned North Korea must face international consequences over the sinking of a Southern warship in March. She said on a visit to Tokyo that, despite Pyongyang’s denials, evidence the North had torpedoed the ship was "overwhelming". South Korea’s president told his security chiefs the response to the sinking must be "very prudent". He also firmly blamed North Korea when he addressed his security council. It was a "surprise military attack from North Korea [that came] while South Korean people were resting late at night", President Lee Myung-bak said. Foreign investigators said in a report that a torpedo had hit the ship, killing 46 people. Experts from the US, the UK, Australia and Sweden found that parts of the torpedo retrieved from the sea floor had lettering that matched a North Korean design.
Speaking after talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, Mrs Clinton called on North Korea to "stop its provocative behaviour". While she said it would be premature to discuss options before consultations with countries in the region, the evidence of a Northern attack was, in her words, "overwhelming and condemning". "The torpedo that sunk the Cheonan… was fired by a North Korean submarine," she said. "We cannot allow this attack on South Korea to go unanswered by the international community. This will not be and cannot be business as usual. There must be an international, not just a regional, but an international response." Mrs Clinton, who is in Asia for a week-long tour, described the report on the sinking as "scientific", BBC state department correspondent Kim Ghattas reports from Japan. Her choice of words was interesting, our correspondent says. China was sceptical about the investigation