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East Asia

How the Old Hands Do It

Robert Koehler has some chuckles at U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s expense, but it seems even the ancient Middle Kingdom needs some schooling on diplomacy

Sha Zukang’s highly undiplomatic toast to Ban Ki-moon in the Alps last week raises questions about China’s diplomatic commitment to the United Nations, according to senior U.N. officials. Diplomats wonder whether the incident will spur Beijing to take the organization more seriously, and to send its best and brightest to serve at the world body.

“This raises questions about whether China is a mature power,” said a senior U.N.-based diplomat. “The Chinese need to think about this.”


Myanmar Kisses Beijing’s Ring

Zin Linn argues that “To people of Burma, China is not only a great impediment to their freedom but also a neo-colonialist under an alliance mask.

Senior Gen. Than Shwe in the midst of swelling international pressure and ahead of the 7-November elections arrived in China on 7 September for a five-day state visit. Analysts said Burma is trying to get support politically from China as it has been planning for its first election in two decades. International observers have criticized the election as a charade as it does not include key opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

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KIm Gets His Marching Orders

Kushibo has some hig-powered speculations about the reasons for Dear Leaders recent visit to Manchuria.

Let’s not forget that Kim Jong-il tried at one time to establish a SAR of its own in Shinŭiju, which may have failed because China was angered at North Korea’s unilateralism in its own country. Could that be the reason behind the Dear Leader’s visit: He’s not just trying to get permission for a dynastic transfer, but permission for Kim Jong-un (under the auspices of his father while he’s still alive and after that, his regent uncle, Jang Songthaek) to pursue Chinese-style economic reforms?


Pronotion By Sex Change Surgery

Warning: NOT for the squeamish!

Customers come to Thailand for sex reassignment surgery, including woman-to-man, from the US, South Korea, and in Japan, an inch is worth a job promotion.

Displaying excruciatingly graphic medical photos on his computer’s screen, Preecha explained why it is much more difficult to turn a woman into a man. The medical and cosmetic problems convince most women to opt for a very small penis, instead of an average-sized longer one.

“To do the long penis involves a very big operation, and quite a lot of mutilation, because the patient will have big scarring on the side of their belly, or on the arm, or the thigh, from the skin graft or the skin flap.


A Reality Check Next for DPRK-US Relations

The Chosun Daily might understand that the Obama administration is skeptical about the Six-Party Talks format, but its perceived solution – it’s Beijing’s responsibility – is becoming more shibboleth than plan.

…some skeptics there argue that the six-party talks are useless and have only aggravated the situation while giving the North Korea breathing space to develop its weapons. This was reflected in a recent remark by former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen, who said the U.S. is interested in a “new way” that could generate more positive results than the six-way talks.


The Pettiest Tyrant in the World

Murderer-FarmerWho’s the worst mass murderer of all times? Pol Pot? Kim Il-sung? Hitler? Stalin? No, it’s Mao Zedong, and for the pettiest of reasons.


Blame Where Blame Is Due

It’s one thing to pillory the US for borrowing money. It’s even more imprudent to ignore the surpluses Beijing is running due to a faulty liberalization agenda.

It is critical to understand that the root cause of the imbalances and inefficiency problems is factor-market distortions. Therefore, the fundamental solution to deal with the imbalance problem is to implement a comprehensive package of factor-market reforms. This essentially calls for an end to the asymmetrical approach to market liberalisation. Steady liberalisation of factor markets and the elimination of cost distortions should be top priorities for the next stage of reform.

In specific terms, what should be done?


Northeast Asian Neighbors Behaving Badly

Former US Ambassador to the ROK, Donald Gregg, is confusing diplomatic disagreement and an empirical impasse. That two countries could disagree over an issue, like the Cheonan sinking, is not surprising. What is embarrassing is when someone takes diplomatic consensus for truth

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Red Links, 9-03-10

@AFP?The EconomistThis week os a pessimistic week for The Economist. For all the optimism Technology Quarterly brings, it’s the economic doubt raised about Beijing’s role in the world, warnings about the evolution of the internet, and anthropogenic global warming, that is most compelling.


Punishment Without Pain, Backfilling With Impunity

What looks like Japan’s principled stance against the Iranian nuclear program turns out tobe rather lame.

Japan’s new sanctions include a freeze on the assets of scores of groups and individuals linked to the country’s nuclear programme.

They ban the provision of insurance or reinsurance services to Iran and bar Japanese financial institutions from buying bonds issued by Iran’s central bank.

The new ban on financial activity with 15 designated Iranian banks that could contribute to nuclear activities could affect some Japanese banks, analysts said.

Toyota Motor Corp has suspended motor vehicle exports to the country indefinitely since June.

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