North Korea finally launches some missiles

After months of warnings, North Korea fired three short-range missiles from its east coast in a north-easterly direction missing Japan.

But the fact that they’re short range missiles and they were apparently not directed to pass over any neighbors, suggest there will be less diplomatic backlash, then if they were longer range missiles, or rockets capable of putting a satellite in orbit.

From Al-Jazeera’s report:

“These sorts of short range tests don’t attract the same kind of approach that longer range or nuclear tests carry with them and they were fired north easterly. So they are likely not to provoke any sort of retaliatory measure from South Korea or Japan.”

The launches come days after Japanese official Isao Iijima made a surprise visit to North Korea for talks with the president of North Korea’s parliament Kim Yong Nam. The media has speculated the talks were about improving bilateral ties after decades of a frosty relationship.

Days before the Japanese announced that the batteries of Patriot missiles in Okinawa would be kept there on a permanent basis.

Australia to bring up North Korean sanctions with China

This article says Australia will “will urge China to clamp down on the flow of technology and equipment crossing its borders into North Korea, which could be used by the rogue nation in its nuclear weapons program.”

It quotes a spokesman for Australia’s foreign minister as saying UN sanctions on North Korea “would be more effective if there was tighter implementation on ships and planes travelling to North Korea, including from China.”

“That’s something we’ll be talking about when we’re in China,” the spokesman said. But the article immediately says: it is “not suggested China is breaching the sanctions.”.

(shrug)

Anyway, with billions of dollars in trade per year crossing the border between China and North Korea, you have to wonder if the occasional missile launcher finds its way into the mix. Also, it’s not clear what sway Australia, a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council has over China – a permanent member.

Although the broader view is the China is holding its rhetorical fire on the US’s increased military maneuvers in South Korea, this article shows that China won’t tolerate too much of a public reconsideration of its relationship with North Korea. I like the quotes on China about the military’s unwillingness to be transparent.

“The Chinese people know how to shadow box and know even better about Sun Zi’s Art of War, so it (the military) won’t make public that which need not be known,” the official China New Service said in a commentary about the Korean tensions.

I think you could apply that to most matters with the Chinese military establishment. What the longer term effect that has on Asian-Pacific tensions and global affairs remains to be seen. But this is turning out to be a full-time feature in global affairs – the veil of secrecy held up in China that the world must navigate around.

Chinese missiles being deployed near the Senkaku-Diaoyu Islands: report

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The Washington Free Beacon says China is deploying missiles near the Senkaku Islands. (Notice they are only referred to as the Senkaku.)

United States intelligence agencies recently detected China’s military shifting road-mobile ballistic missiles closer to its southern coast near the disputed Senkaku Islands amid growing tensions between Beijing and Japan over the islands dispute.

U.S. defense officials said the movements are being watched closely as China’s military is also holding large-scale military exercises that some fear could be a trigger for a conflict with Japan that could involve U.S. forces.

The article says:

…The People’s Liberation Army Second Artillery Corps, which operates missile units, were preparing to target the disputed Senkaku Islands as well as U.S. military bases in Okinawa.

The Daily News stated that the missile movements were signs the PLA is “preparing for the worst regarding the territorial dispute between China and Japan over the Senkaku Islands.”

The fact that the upstart Washington Free Beacon is focusing on this suggests America’s right may be discovering the multi-faceted China Challenge.

One question: What took you so long, guys?

Good that America’s right, short a cause or two, are looking past Iran and the problems of the Middle East to notice the long term strategic challenger rising in the Far East. Could this be something that galvanizes them and gives them an issue they can run with in US politics? Too early to say.

A more intriguing article may possibly be this comment piece from the libertarian Cato Institute that says:

If Washington isn’t comfortable with a more powerful China demanding a greater say over Asian security issues, making China wealthier by trading with it doesn’t make much sense.

Very good question. A very good question indeed. I suppose it could form the basis of a lot of American political thinking in the years ahead. A wise Republican would spend some time considering this question and see what he comes up with. I’d be very eager to speak to these kinds of Republicans. To see these Republicans. To hear their ideas.

(Image courtesy: Cain and Todd Benson)