This week in Asia we follow a lot of the usual suspects. A UN report indicates a startling discovery of North Korea’s nuclear situation, China and Taiwan make big moves following the Lunar New Year, and Afghanistan seeks peace in talks taking place in Moscow. Happy Lunar or Chinese New Year to all of our readers who celebrate this Asian holiday and welcome to this week’s Asia news roundup.
North Korea Hiding Nukes?
In a confidential UN report revealed in the last week, a startling discovery has been made regarding North Korea’s arsenal of nuclear weapons. The North Korean nuclear and missile program remains intact and shows no change in North Korea’s behavior, says the bi-annual report, even as US President Donald Trump confirmed his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will take place later this month in Vietnam. While US President Trump has stated publicly on many occasions of the “tremendous” progress made in the negotiations with Kim Jong Un, Pyongyang has been working hard to keep their nuclear program running in preparation of a possible US attack. The international sanctions have proven to be ineffective to deter North Korea from continue building a growing arsenal of nuclear weapons. North Korea has also been caught selling small arms and light weapons to Libya, Sudan, and Houthi rebels in Yemen, through foreign intermediaries. This realization will prove difficult for the world community to reconcile amidst the perceived progress made by US negotiations. President Trump will be meeting Kim Jong Un in late february in Vietnam in their second official summit.
China and Taiwan Clash In Online Videos
Following the Chinese New Year on February 5th, both China and Taiwan have released videos promoting clashing agendas. The Chinese Liberation army released a video showing scenery from Taiwan with clips of Chinese jets and bombers with music in the background sublimely declaring a “gentle return” and “brothers and sisters”. Following the Chinese video, Taiwan’s military uploaded a video on their official Facebook page stating their military is “On Standby 24/7”, especially during the lunar new year. With the slowly rising tensions since 2016 out of the 70 years of separation, China is still calling for peaceful reunification with Taiwan while calling their declared independence “a dead end” earlier this year. The rising tension from China has been interpreted by many to be a message that China’s military cannot be matched, even if the US came to Taiwan’s aid.
Afghanistan Brokers Have Peace Talks In Moscow With Taliban
In the State Of The Union, President Trump endorsed a settlement for peace in Afghanistan with the Taliban. This endorsement was followed by Afghanistan’s most prominent politicians having peace talks with the Taliban at a meeting in Moscow. “Great nations do not fight endless wars,” Trump said, highlighting his pledge to find a “new approach” to US military operations overseas. “I have also accelerated our negotiations to reach, if possible, a political settlement in Afghanistan. The opposing side is also very happy to be negotiating.” That opposing side — representatives of the Taliban movement — were in Moscow on Tuesday and Wednesday to take part in a conference that had tacit backing from the Russian government. The conference, which took place at a hotel owned by the Kremlin, brought together members of the Taliban’s Qatar-based negotiating office with some of Afghanistan’s main political players, including regional strongmen and former Afghan President Hamid Karzai. So far no major breakthroughs have come out of the talks in Moscow but the beginnings of the talk are a huge step in the right direction as no on would’ve seen the Taliban and Afghan political leaders sitting at the same table.
You can read more from Amos Joseph on Think Liberty here.