The Nautilus Institute

Northeast Asia Peace and Security Network
For Wednesday, January 29, 1997, from Berkeley, California, USA

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In today's Report:

I. United States

II. Republic of Korea III. People's Republic of China

I. United States

1. DPRK Famine Prospects

The Associated Press (Robert H. Reid, "U.N.: NORTH KOREA HAS FOOD CRISIS," United Nations, 1/29/97) reported that UN World Food Program spokesman Michael Ross said Wednesday that the DPRK's food shortage is so acute that many city dwellers are receiving only 15 percent of the daily ration given to refugees in UN-managed camps in Africa. Dwindling supplies have forced the DPRK government to reduce the amount of food provided by the state-run ration system from about 14 ounces per person a few months ago to 3 1/2 ounces. Refugees in UN-supported camps receive about 23 ounces of rations a day. The UN agency estimates that the DPRK has only enough food in warehouses to last until late spring or early summer. One World Food Program official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a sign of the crisis is the near total absence of animals -- dogs, cats, chickens and cattle -- throughout the DPRK. "This means they've been slaughtered for food," the official said. The US State Department announced Monday that the DPRK had postponed by one week its meeting with US and ROK officials for a briefing on the four-party peace talks proposal, in order to conclude negotiations with Western firms on grain imports. Last week, InterAction, a coalition of 150 American humanitarian groups, said that the DPRK's 23 million people are "in the throes of a life-threatening food shortage that could take on famine proportions in the months to come." [Ed. note: For more information please see "DPRK Food Situation" in the US section of the January 23 Daily Report.]

2. DPRK-Taiwan Nuclear Waste Deal

The Associated Press (Christopher Bodeen, "TAIWAN WORKERS IN ANTI-NUKE CLASH," Taipei, 1/29/97) reported that power company workers clashed with anti-nuclear campaigners who began a hunger strike Wednesday to protest Taiwan's plans to ship nuclear waste to the DPRK. Six ROK nationals accompanied by Taiwanese supporters were trying to deliver a protest letter to the state-run Taiwan Power Co. when the scuffles broke out. Camped on a busy sidewalk and holding banners reading "no nukes, no waste," the ROK protesters said they would fast for five days. Yao Chiang-ling, an official of the trade union representing power company workers, was quoted as saying, "Taipower is acting entirely within the law, so if these people want to protest, they ought to go to North Korea to protest." Taiwan plans to start shipping up to 200,000 barrels of low-level nuclear waste to the DPRK for storage in about a month. The ROK opposes the deal and has asked the US, the PRC, Japan, and the International Atomic Energy Agency to pressure Taiwan to cancel the deal.

3. DPRK-Russia Treaty Pending

The AP-Dow Jones News Service ("RUSSIA NEGOTIATING NEW TREATY WITH N. KOREA," Moscow, 1/29/97) reported that Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said Wednesday that Russia and the DPRK may soon sign a new treaty replacing their Soviet-era alliance. Karasin, who recently visited Pyongyang, said a new treaty could be signed by the end of 1997 now that negotiators have "for the first time, discussed all clauses of the future treaty in detail." "The previous treaty includes politically outdated aspects, including commitments for an alliance in the event of aggression. They will be removed from the new treaty," Karasin said. Karasin added, "The level and time of the signing of the treaty will be agreed to later," and said another round of talks will take place in the summer or autumn. Russia first proposed replacing the 1961 pact in 1995, four years after the collapse of the Soviet Union ended the close relationship with it that the DPRK had maintained.

4. ROK Financial Scandal

Reuters ("SOUTH KOREA PROBES CREDITOR BANKS OF HANBO," Seoul, 1/29/97) reported that the ROK Office of Bank Supervision on Wednesday opened a special probe into the five main creditor banks of the debt-stricken Hanbo Group, and grilled the conglomerate's top executives over the loan scandal. The banking authorities said the probe would focus on whether the banks followed regulations in offering huge loans to Hanbo Steel Co., which defaulted on US$5.8 billion in loans last week. "A team comprising seven investigators has been sent to each of the five banks," an office spokesman said. "If a serious violation is found, severe punishment would be slapped on the banks and their management." The steel-making company is the flagship of the ROK's 14th largest conglomerate. Opposition parties, calling the loans the biggest financial scandal in the country's history, have accused the government of peddling influence to pressure creditor banks into offering loans to Hanbo without adequate collateral.

5. US Envoy to ROK Profiled

The New York Times (Nicholas D. Kristof, "A FAREWELL TO SEOUL, WITH THE KOREAS STILL UNHEALED," Seoul, 1/29/97, A6) carried a profile of James T. Laney, 69, due to leave his current post as US ambassador to the ROK early next month. The article said that after three tumultuous years as ambassador, Laney will leave a legacy of not only a more human image of US envoys but also a very different US policy toward the Korean Peninsula. Laney, an academic and ordained Methodist minister, has visited the peninsula throughout his life and is the first American ambassador to Seoul who can speak Korean, departing from the mold of most of his predecessors, who have usually been security specialists or experts on the PRC or Japan. The article also credited Laney with an instrumental role in shifting US policy toward the DPRK from a more confrontational posture in 1993 to its current broad commitment to engaging the DPRK and luring it out of its isolation. Laney figured prominently in the 1994 crisis of US-DPRK relations, arguing forcefully for engagement when concerned foreign policy makers in Washington did not have a clear idea on how to proceed, the article said. Laney's wife Berta was quoted as saying, in reference to the looming prospect of war at this time, "One day he came into the room with tears in his eyes. ... He said all of a sudden it had dawned on him that he was responsible for all the Americans living here. He said he felt very burdened, that he would never want any of them hurt, or to make a decision that would endanger their lives." "He really has been saddened over the division, and he thought that maybe, maybe, maybe, he could help bring the two together," Mrs. Laney added. "I think that was his dream." More recently, as strains emerged in US-ROK relations, there was surprisingly little resentment against Laney himself, and in private as well as in public, ROK and DPRK officials mostly speak highly of him, the article said. Stephen Linton, a US specialist on Korea, was quoted as saying, "I think history will see him as the first ambassador to the whole peninsula," rather than just to the southern half.

II. Republic of Korea

1. KEDO Delegate Meets ROK Officials

Stephen Bosworth, executive director of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) met with top ROK officials Tuesday and discussed groundbreaking and cost-sharing for the construction of two 1,000 megawatt light-water nuclear reactors in the DPRK. Bosworth arrived in Seoul Monday and successively met with Chang Sun-sup, director of the Office of Light Water Reactor Project, Yoo Chong-ha, ROK minister of foreign affairs, Ban Ki-moon, senior presidential secretary for foreign affairs, and Vice Prime Minister Kwon O-kie, who heads the ROK Ministry of National Unification. Discussions in the meetings focused on when the groundbreaking for the project in Sinpo would occur. The two protocols on services and site takeover signed in early January had cleared the way to begin groundbreaking, which entails preparation of the communications system, provision of electricity, laying roads, and other infrastructure development. According to the rough estimate by the Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO), currently being reviewed by Duke Engineering based in North Carolina as the prime contractor, the nuclear reactors will cost approximately US$5 billion. The official cost will be tabulated in the summer, followed by negotiations among the three KEDO member countries. (The Korea Herald, "KEDO CHIEF, SEOUL OFFICIALS HOLD TALKS," Seoul, 01/29/97)

2. DPRK-Taiwan Nuclear Waste Deal

The US recently sent a message to Taiwan expressing concern over its plan to export nuclear waste to the DPRK, a ROK Foreign Ministry official stated yesterday. The official, who requested anonymity, did not elaborate on the time of the message's delivery or its content. However, he stated that he expects the US to increase pressure on Taiwan if it implements its nuclear waste disposal deal with the DPRK. According to the official, the US is seriously considering the possible political and environmental impact of the deal. "It would be undesirable for the US if relations between South Korea and Taiwan are further soured," he said. He also indicated that the US is worried that nuclear waste from Taiwan may stand in the way of securing nuclear transparency in the DPRK. Last Friday, ROK Foreign Minister Yoo Chong-ha asked US Ambassador James Laney of the US if the US would pressure Taiwan to cancel its deal with the DPRK. At the time, Laney stated that he understood the ROK's apprehension over the deal and promised to convey the request to his superiors. As the supplier of nuclear fuel to Taiwan and the supporter of its pragmatic diplomacy against the PRC, the US has been regarded by ROK officials as vital to halting the nuclear waste disposal deal between Taiwan and the DPRK. (The Korea Herald, "US CONCERNED ABOUT TAIWAN NUKE DEAL," Seoul, 01/29/97)

On Tuesday, the PRC commented on Taiwan's deal to ship nuclear waste to the DPRK by stating that it was a sensitive issue which would create environmental pollution problems in the DPRK. A spokesman for the PRC Foreign Ministry, responding to a Taiwanese reporter's question on the nuclear waste deal during a news briefing, stated that the PRC government is investigating the situation in detail. (Chosun Ilbo, "PRC WARNS TAIWAN ON NUCLEAR WASTE," Seoul, 01/29/97)

3. DPRK Urges Grain Delivery

The DPRK has asked the US to put pressure on Cargill Co., which currently engaged in negotiations to supply grain to the DPRK. A ROK government source stated that the DPRK wants a total of 500,000 tons of licensed US grain to be delivered by February 16, Kim Jong-il's birthday. These negotiations have run into difficulties as Cargill has demanded assurances of payment for the grain. The source also stated that the US has informed the DPRK that it cannot intervene in the dealings of private companies. A Cargill representative visited Pyongyang last Tuesday but the final negotiations were delayed at the DPRK's request. (Chosun Ilbo, "NORTH REQUESTS US PRESSURE ON CARGILL," Seoul, 01/29/97)

4. Indian Missile Project

The United News of India reported Monday that India, by planning to test-fire a medium-range missile, has sparked a war of words with the US. The news agency quoted defense officials as stating that the surface-to-surface "Prithvi" (Earth) would be launched in the eastern state of Orissa between February 8 and 15. Indian defense sources stated that approximately 600 people living around the town of Balasore in Orissa, near India's missile test site, have been evicted temporarily. The Prithvi missile, which has yet to become fully operational, has a range of 150-250 kilometers (93-155 miles) and can carry a one-ton nuclear, chemical, or conventional warhead. It has been tested 15 times. The US has urged India not to deploy Prithvi, arguing that its mass production could start a possible arms race in South Asia. Pakistan, with which India has fought three wars, also voiced concern over the missile. But Indian defense analysts have defended the decision to maintain India's missile program, which was launched in 1983. "India should go ahead with the deployment of missiles of all ranges," said Jasjit Singh, director of the Institute of Defense Studies and Analysis (IDSA) think-tank. "Our cities will be indefensible without a long-range missile. As everyone else is proceeding with their missile deployment programs, so should India." (The Korea Times, "INDIA DEFIES US WITH MISSILE TEST PLAN," Seoul, 01/29/97)

III. People's Republic of China

1. ROK-Japan Summit

People's Daily ("HASHIMOTO AND KIM HOLD TALKS," Tokyo, A3, 1/26/97) reported that Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto and ROK President Kim Young-sam exchanged their views on the current situation on the Korean peninsula, the Japan-ROK relationship, and other issues on January 25. The report stated that, when discussing the situation on the Korean peninsula, Kim expressed his appreciation for Japan's cooperation on the issue, and his hope that Japan would strengthen its contacts with the ROK while it improved its relationship with the DPRK.

A commentary on People's Daily ("JAPAN-ROK SUMMIT DISTURBED BY NOISE," A6, 1/27/97) stated that Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiroku Kajiyama's remark on January 24 destroyed the atmosphere of Japan-ROK summit meeting. The controversial statement by Kajiyama was that current attention to the "comfort women" issue is unjustified given the existence of an "authorized prostitution system" in Japan during WWII. The commentary pointed out that the two systems are different in nature, because the latter was a domestic policy within Japan while the former was imposed on other countries. The commentary further argued that, as Japan invaded Asian countries in WWII, all activities by Japan in these countries were illegal. The commentary concluded by stating that, as long as Japan cannot correctly recognize history, any attempt to establish future-oriented relationships with Asian countries will be in vain.

On January 28, Wen Hui Daily ("JAPAN-ROK SUMMIT TRY TO `FACE TO THE FUTURE'," A4, 1/28/97) published a commentary stating that the Japan-ROK summit was held in light of the troubling domestic situation in both Japan and the ROK. Thus, the article argued, this summit was held under the theme of establishing a "future-oriented" relationship because neither Japan nor the ROK wanted to make any mistakes in their foreign policies towards each other. However, it said, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiroku Kajiyama's remark on January 24 destroyed the plan. However, the article said, discussion of policy toward the DPRK was an important result of the summit. It stated that the ROK's repeated demand that Japan align itself with the ROK on the DPRK issue was intended to guarantee the ROK's initiative on the matter. The article concluded by stating that it was obvious that there were differences between Japan and the ROK on this issue and that this difference may influence the situation on the Korean peninsula.

2. ROK-DPRK Relations

Jie Fang Daily ("SEVEN ROK COMPANIES APPROVED TO COOPERATE WITH DPRK," A4, 1/26/97) reported that the ROK Unification Ministry gave approvals on January 24 to seven ROK companies to conduct economic and trade relations with the DPRK. This approval follows suspension of ROK-DPRK economic cooperation in the wake of last September's submarine incursion incident, and so was regarded as a hopeful sign that fuller economic cooperation would resume soon. According to the report, 49 ROK companies have carried out cooperative economic projects with the DPRK since November, 1994, when the two Koreas agreed to facilitate economic exchanges.

3. DPRK-Russia Relations

Jie Fang Daily ("DPRK AND RUSSIA SIGN TRAVEL AGREEMENT," Pyongyang, A4, 1/25/97) reported that the Vice Foreign Ministers of the DPRK and Russia signed an agreement on travel between the two countries in Pyongyang on January 24.

4. PRC-ROK Relations

Qiao Shi, chairman of the Standing Committee of the PRC's National People's Congress, stated that a visit by a delegation from the ROK National Assembly is likely to improve relations between the two countries and the two parliaments. Qiao made the remark in Beijing on January 28 while meeting with an ROK delegation led by a speaker Kim Soo-han. (China Daily "GUESTS FROM ROK," A2, 1/29/97)

5. PRC-US Relations

The PRC's top leaders stated in Beijing on January 28 that the PRC-US relationship would further improve if the two sides enhance mutual understanding and trust, China Daily ("TOP LEADERS STRESS TRUST IN US TIES," A1, 1/29/97) reported. PRC President Jiang Zemin and Premier Li Peng expressed this message during two separate meetings with US visitors. In his meeting with California Governor Pete Wilson, Jiang cited careful handling of the Taiwan issue as a precondition to good relations. In a meeting with six US congressmen, Premier Li Peng stated that the PRC has adopted a positive attitude toward the development of PRC-US ties. The US visitors included Curt Weldon, chairman of the subcommittee of military research and development with the House of Representatives, and Gary Ackerman, a senior congressman in charge of Asian-Pacific affairs. "We have noticed that the US is carrying out a `contact policy' towards China," Li stated, adding "contact is better than containment and dialogue is better than confrontation." On behalf of the leaders of the US Congress, Weldon stated that he wanted to discuss with the PRC how best to establish a system of regular talks and exchanges between the officials of the two countries. Li agreed with Weldon's view of the need to strengthen ties between the US Congress and the PRC's National People's Congress. He stated that, since all countries have their own unique social systems, cultural backgrounds, and development levels, it is natural for them to have a different understanding of some issues. In another development, PRC Foreign Ministry spokesman Shen Guofang said in Beijing on January 28 that it is irresponsible for some US congressmen, who are ignorant of hard facts, to comment on the Provisional legislative Council (PLC) of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Shen made the remark at a regular news briefing when asked to comment on a proposal by some members of the Foreign affairs Committee of the US Congress that PLC members should not be issued visas.

Official delegations for the PRC and the US started a new round of textile negotiations in Beijing from January 28, Wen Hui Daily ("CHINA AND US HOLD TEXTILE NEGOTIATION," Beijing, A4, 1/29/97) reported.

6. PRC-Japan Relations

People's Daily ("HASHIMOTO: DEVELOPING RELATIONS WITH CHINA," Tokyo, A3, 1/25/97) reported that Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto emphasized at the Japanese Diet on January 22 that Japan should make efforts to develop its relations with the PRC. According to a statement by Hashimoto, "This year is the 25th anniversary of the normalization of Japanese-PRC diplomatic relations... (and) Japan should make efforts to develop its relations with China." Hashimoto also stated that Japan should promote the PRC as a constructive partner, by supporting reform efforts and by helping the PRC obtain access to the World Trade Organization. He also hoped that Japanese economic cooperation with the PRC would help to increase the PRC's trust in Japan.

7. PRC-Mongolia Relations

The PRC has always attached importance to developing a long-term and stable relationship with Mongolia, Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Qian Qichen stated in Beijing on January 27 when he held talks with Mongolian Minister of External Relations Shukher Altangerel, who arrived in Beijing for a six-day official visit. Qian stated that changes in Mongolia's political system and the re-shuffling of its government will not affect the PRC's friendly "good-neighbor" policy towards Mongolia. He also expressed appreciation for Mongolia's stand on maintaining neighborly relations with its two large bordering countries -- the PRC and Russia. At the meeting, Qian announced that the PRC Red Cross will provide US$20,000 in disaster-relief funds to the Red Cross of Mongolia to help Mongolians who have suffered through snow disasters since last winter. After the talks, Qian and Altangerel signed the agreement on the reserve of Mongolia's consulate in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. China Daily, Yan Ni ("GOOD MONGOLIAN TIES APPRECIATED," A1, 1/28/97)

Mongolia is an important neighbor of the PRC, PRC Premier Li Peng stated on January 28 when he met with visiting Mongolian Minister of External Relations Shukher Altangerel, Wen Hui Daily reported ("LI PENG MEETS WITH MONGOLIAN GUEST," Beijing, A4, 1/29/97). According to Li, "It serves the fundamental interests of both the PRC and Mongolian people to strengthen bilateral ties."

8. PRC-South Africa Relations

When meeting with PRC Assistant Foreign Minister Ji Peiding at Pretoria on January 28, South African President Nelson Mandela reaffirmed that his government would normalize relations with the PRC. Mandela stressed that the PRC is an important world power and that the South African government values relations with it. During the meeting, Ji stated that the PRC Government welcomes Mandela's statement on November 27, 1996. He also conveyed to Mandela cordial greetings from PRC President Jiang Zemin and Premier Li Peng. Jie Fang Daily reported ("S. AFRICA REAFFIRMS PRC TIES," Johannesburg, A2, 1/29/97)

9. PRC-Taiwan Relations

On January 25, PRC and Taiwan shipping sectors reached a consensus on technical issues concerning direct shipping between the ports of Fuzhou and Xiamen on the mainland and Kaohsiung Port in Taiwan, Wen Hui Daily ("CROSS- STRAITS TALKS LEAD TO CONSENSUS ON SHIPPING," Hong Kong, A4, 1/26/97) reported. The consensus was reached at a meeting jointly held by the Association for Shipping Exchanges Across the Taiwan Straits from the PRC mainland and the Taiwan Straits Shipping Association. According to the report, the two sides signed a memorandum on direct shipping services at the meeting.

All Chinese people, including Taiwan compatriots, were urged to unite and contribute to the reunification of the motherland, China Daily ("MEETING URGES PEACEFUL REUNIFICATION," A1, 1/28/97) reported. A three-day meeting attended by directors and deputy directors of the Taiwan affairs offices from across the PRC made the call. During the meeting, which ended in Beijing on Jan. 27, Qian Qichen, a member of the Political Bureau of the PRC Communist Party Central Committee and vice-premier of the State Council, said the present international and domestic situation is conducive to ending Taiwan's separatist drive. The meeting described the year of 1996 as an inordinate one for the growth of relations across the Straits. Important results, however, were achieved in the struggle against separatist activities and "Taiwan's independence," which demonstrates the Chinese people's strong determination and ability to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The PRC people will not remain indifferent to separatist activities carried out by some Taiwanese authorities who oppose the "one China" policy, stated Wang Zhaoguo, head of the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, in Beijing on January 26. "Under the unified leadership and planning of the CPC Central Committee," he noted, "all people in our country have engaged in a mammoth struggle against separatism and the independence of Taiwan and have scored substantial achievements." Wang, who is also vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, made these remarks at a function attended by councilors of the Huangpu (Whampoa) Military Academy Alumni Association and their wives, the People's Liberation Army Daily reported ("NATION WILL CONTINUE TO COUNTER SEPARATISM," Beijing, A4, 1/27/97).

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Shin Dong-bom:
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Moscow, Russian Federation

Chunsi Wu:
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