NAPSNet Daily Report
tuesday, august 26, 2003

I. United States


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I. United States

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1. PRC on DPRK Multilateral Talks

Agence France-Presse ("CHINA URGES 'CALM AND PATIENT ATTITUDE' AS NKOREA TEAM ARRIVES FOR TALKS," 08/26/03) reported that the PRC urged a "calm and patient attitude" in upcoming six-way talks on the DPRK nuclear crisis as Pyongyang's negotiating team arrived in Beijing and went straight into a meeting with its closest ally. "China hopes all parties will ... show sincerity to solve the issue, adopt a calm and patient attitude, (and) respect each other," said Wang Yi, Beijing's top delegate at the talks, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency. Wang, a vice foreign minister, also called on the six countries' delegates to "conduct consultations on an equal footing, seek common grounds and reduce disputes," Xinhua reported one day before the start of the three-day talks. Wang met with North Korea's 10-man delegation, headed by career diplomat and PRC expert Kim Yong-Il, soon after it got off the plane from Pyongyang, ROK and PRC officials said. "The nuclear issue is very complicated and acute, and it is impossible to solve all problems through one or two discussions," he said. "Moreover, other issues may arise during negotiations," he added without being specific. Wang also cautioned against any nation pushing too hard. "We disagree with such actions as making sanctions or inserting pressure, and oppose war," he said, stressing that the DPRK had made "important and resolute decisions" in order for the talks to take place.

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2. PRC on DPRK Security Concerns

Agence France-Presse ("CHINA SAYS N. KOREA'S SECURITY MUST BE ADDRESSED AS PYONGYANG TEAM ARRIVES," 08/26/03) reported that the PRC stressed that the DPRK's security concerns must be addressed as Pyongyang's negotiating team arrived in Beijing for six-party talks on its nuclear program. "China has always stood firmly in maintaining peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and will actively propel parties concerned to solve the nuclear issue through peaceful dialogue," said Vice President Zeng Qinghong on Tuesday. "China holds that the Korean peninsula should be nuclear-free and reasonable security concerns of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) should be addressed," he was quoted as saying by the Xinhua news agency. Together with Russia, the PRC has offered to issue an official security guarantee to the DPRK, which the US refuses to do in a formal treaty. The tense nature of the peninsula was starkly highlighted again Tuesday when a ROK warship fired warning shots to drive back a DPRK navy ship from its southern territorial waters. According to the ROK's Joint Chiefs of Staff, the 200-tonne DPRK vessel violated an inter-Korean sea border near Yeonpyong Island off the west coast. It retreated into DPRK waters after a 1,200-tonne ROK navy ship broadcast warnings and fired two rounds from a 73 milimeter gun.

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3. PRC-Hong Kong Security Law

Agence France-Presse ("CHINA REITERATES NO TIMETABLE FOR HONG KONG TO PASS SECURITY LAW," 08/26/03) reported that a senior PRC official told a delegation of lawyers from Hong Kong that the central government has not set a timetable for Hong Kong to pass a controversial national security law. Chen Zuo'er, a deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, made the remarks during a meeting on Tuesday with a delegation of lawyers from Hong Kong in Beijing, pointing out that "the time for enacting the legislation is up to the Hong Kong SAR government." Andrew Liao, executive councilor, told local media after the meeting that Chen also urged support for chief executive Tung Chee-hwa as well as help in the smooth passage of the anti-subversion law. Chen told the delegation that the central government would continue to support Hong Kong and called for unity among its various political and civic camps. Tung's administration scrapped some of the controversial clauses of the initial anti-subversion bill, drawn up under Article 23 of Hong Kong's post-1997 constitution. The government was later forced to rethink the timetable for its passage after more than 500,000 Hong Kong residents marched through the streets in protest here on July 1. Opponents of the legislation have said the bill threatens Hong Kong's political, religious and media freedoms.

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4. PRC Taiwan Strait Airborne Unit

Agence France-Presse ("CHINA PLANS AIRBORNE UNIT NEAR TAIWAN STRAIT," 08/26/03) reported that the PRC is planning to set up a combat airborne division closer to Taiwan in response to the growing independence movement on the island, a report said. The People's Liberation Army (PLA) is planning to set up a second airborne division, based in Hangzhou in eastern coastal Zhejiang province, reported the PRC-backed Wen Wei Po on Tuesday, citing unidentified sources. The sources said the sitting up of the new airborne division showed the PLA was focusing part of its strategic force on the Taiwan Strait, as "Taiwan indepedence seekers continue to challenge the country's sovereignty." The report said the stationing of new paratroopers in Zhejiang could cut by half the amount of time needed to fly troops to Taiwan. Currently they would need to be flown from the only existing airborne base in central Hubei province. It said paratroopers could reach Taipei within an hour.

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5. Japan DPRK Ferry Departure

Agence France-Presse ("NKOREAN FERRY LEAVES JAPAN AFTER HOURS OF DELAYS AHEAD OF NUCLEAR TALKS," 08/26/03) reported that a DPRK ferry, serving as the only direct link with Japan, left here hours behind schedule because of delays related to safety defects. The ship left Niigata around 7:00 pm bound for its home port of Wonsan with some 200 passengers and roughly 100 tonnes of freight and luggage. The ferry was originally scheduled to leave Tuesday morning, but the Japanese authorities said after inspecting it Monday the ship would not be allowed to leave unless the defects they identified were fixed. The permission to sail was seen by some media commentators as an attempt by Japan to avoid complicating the six-nation talks starting Wednesday in Beijing on the Korean nuclear crisis, at which Tokyo is determined to demand a solution to the kidnapping of Japanese citizens by Pyongyang agents. The ferry docked early Monday on its first visit for seven months. The transport ministry spent about two hours Tuesday inspecting the vessel to find out what repair work had been done, after discovering five defects during an eight-hour Port State Control (PSC) inspection on Monday. The follow-up inspection established that the crew had repaired equipment that separates oil from waste water in the engine room. The ship is scheduled to again visit Niigata on September 4, when Japanese officials will again conduct the PSC inspection, Transport Minister Chikage Ogi told reporters. "If the ship fails the PSC then, we will deny it future port calls," Ogi said.

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6. ROK Strike Leaders Police Hunt

Agence France-Presse ("ROK POLICE HUNT DOWN STRIKE LEADERS," 08/26/03) reported that the ROK police launched a nationwide hunt for 16 union activists as thousands of striking truck drivers rejected an ultimatum to end a strike. The crackdown followed a cabinet meeting in which government officials vowed to push ahead with legal action against the six-day walkout by about 30,000 truckers. The government also threatened to stop paying some of its subsidies to truckers who refuse to resume work. "Legal action is inevitable against illegal labor activities," Construction and Transportation Minister Choi Jong-Chan said Tuesday. The Korea Cargo Transport Workers Union launched an indefinite strike last Thursday demanding higher pay for bulk cement and container cargo transport workers. Employers have warned that the truckers must return to work by Monday or face the termination of contracts. But union leaders have ignored the warning, insisting on a 30 percent increase in pay for handling bulk cement trailers. The strike has seriously disrupted exports. Container transport was only at 60 percent of normal levels in the southern port of Busan, which handles 80 percent of the ROK's container cargo. It was the second truckers' walkout this year. Meanwhile, the union of the ROK's second largest carmaker, Kia Motors Corp, resumed production Tuesday, ending a three-week strike. Kia, affiliated with Hyundai Motor Co, agreed on a 8.8 percent wage increase and other fringe benefits including shorter work hours.

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7. ROK-DPRK World Student Games

Agence France-Presse ("NORTH KOREA PROPAGANDA MACHINE ROLLS SOUTH FOR STUDENT GAMES," 08/26/03) reported that when the DPRK turned up at the World Student Games with a plane-load of cheerleaders, everybody knew they were here to show off. Clapping and singing in unison, the 300 uniformed cheerleaders, who outnumber the DPRK athletes three to one, have successfully held the media spotlight ever since. But the blanket coverage is not to everybody's liking. Sunday's anti-DPRK demonstration -- which erupted in violence when DPRK journalists tried to break it up -- had been called to protest against pro-Pyongyang bias in the local press. "Local news media are focusing on covering DPRK athletes and their supporters, isolating 170 other participating countries," said a statement released by the anti-Pyongyang protestors ahead of their action. "This international sporting event is being utilized by North Korea for its political propaganda." The women, who are bused to the games from remote accommodation outside the city every day, are kept under such strict security that even journalists assigned to cover them have become disgruntled. On Saturday, photojournalists laid down their cameras outside a hotel where the cheerleaders were appearing to protest against the lack of access. And not everyone is buying their message that the DPRK is a vibrant, successful country. "I think they're scary -- they're too organzsed," said Lee Hyun-Jung, 25, a volunteer at the Games, referring to the women's regimented routines. The DPRK has been working hard to keep the cheerleaders at the top of the media agenda. Numerous photo opportunities have been granted, and a fresh schedule of their movements is released to the press every day. At stadiums they're unmissable, with their well-drilled routines eclipsing events on the field and their band drowning out all other support. Kim Kun Woo, a 24-year-old student, said the DPRK was taking advantage of a rare opportunity to play to the world stage. "They're our brothers -- we are one country, so why can't we have any contact with them?"

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8. US on Russia-Iran Nuclear Cooperation

Agence France-Presse ("US FAILS TO CONVINCE RUSSIA TO HALT NUCLEAR COOPERATION WITH IRAN," Moscow, 08/26/03) reported that the top US diplomat for arms control left Moscow empty handed after reportedly failing to convince Russia in two days of secretive talks to halt or even slow down its controversial nuclear cooperation with Iran. The issue has dogged Russian-US relations for years and is likely to surface again at next month's Camp David summit between presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin -- just as it did during their last meeting in Saint Petersburg on June 1. John Bolton, the US under-secretary of state for arms control and international security, spent two days in Moscow holding talks with senior Russian officials responsible for non-proliferation and nuclear issues. Part of the talks focused on Wednesday's key six-way meeting on the DPRK nuclear crisis -- in which Bolton will not take part -- but much of the attention was also given to Russia's decision to press ahead with construction of Iran's first nuclear power plant at Bushehr. The US fears that Iran is using the project to secretly develop a nuclear weapons program. Moscow counters that Tehran may be building such a program with Western companies' help. And Russian reports said both sides stuck firmly to their positions in Moscow. "There were no new developments on the subject of Iran at Bolton's consultations at the foreign ministry" Monday with Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak, a diplomatic source told the Interfax news agency. "The American side confirmed its concern about the Iranian nuclear program and the Russian side once again spoke of the complete transparency of its nuclear cooperation with Tehran," the Russian source said. But worse news followed for Washington after Bolton's departure when the ITAR-TASS agency reported that Russian officials had submitted documents to Iran requesting permission to launch the construction of a second reactor at Bushehr. US officials had earlier expressed optimism that Moscow would go ahead and complete the first reactor -- but that its cooperation with Tehran would end there.

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Center for American Studies,
Fudan University, Shanghai, People's Republic of China

International Peace Research Institute (PRIME),
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Monash Asia Institute,
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Brandon Yu:
Berkeley, California, United States

Timothy L. Savage:
Berkeley, California, United States

Kim Young-soo:
Seoul, Republic of Korea

Hibiki Yamaguchi:
Tokyo, Japan

Saiko Iwata:
Tokyo, Japan

Hiroya Takagi:
Tokyo, Japan

Peter Razvin:
Moscow, Russian Federation

Wu Chunsi:
Shanghai, People's Republic of China

Dingli Shen:
Shanghai, People's Republic of China

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Clayton, Australia

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