The East Asia Section of IR Insider publishes breaking news reports and analysis from China, North Korea, Japan, and other East Asian countries. Topics covered in the East Asia section may range from Inter-Korean relations to Chinese economic policy and beyond. Our section editor is Yun-Da Tsai.
With a little less than a year to the next elections for the President and all 113 seats in the Legislative Yuan of the Republic of China, former Premier William Lai of the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) formally registered to run for Taiwan’s highest political position.
Serikzhan Bilah — a Kazakh activist critical of the Chinese government’s mass crackdown on Uighurs, among other Muslim minorities in China’s far western Xinjiang region, including Kazakhs — was arrested by Kazakh authorities on Mar. 10 before being confined to house arrest the following day. The program of systematic detention of Muslims in state-run camps, dubbed by the United Nations as “political camps for indoctrination,” has gained much international attention; however, many Muslim majority countries, including Kazakhstan, have not criticized the Chinese government on the issue.
On Wednesday, Mar. 13, 2019, the Japanese government stated that it will not submit a draft resolution condemning the dismal human rights record and continuing human rights abuses of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, commonly North Korea) at the 40th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
On Feb. 15, 2019, the Japanese Cabinet approved draft legislation, legally recognizing the Ainu as indigenous people of Japan — a first in modern Japanese history — and promoting “public awareness” about Ainu culture. The bill “aim[s]...to create a society where people who identify as Ainu can be proud of their roots without having to fear retribution or discrimination,” said Kenichi Ochiai, an associate professor of constitutional law at the Center for Ainu and Indigenous Studies at Hokkaido University.
A new report by California-based cybersecurity firm McAfee has found that North Korea conducted cyberattacks on United States’ financial institutions and commercial companies during the Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi last week. The report, released on Mar. 3, 2019, noted that a new streak of attacks by North Korean hackers began in 2017 and continued even after the warming of relations between Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has proposed a joint project with China to use artificial rain to combat severe air pollution across South Korea, where recent sharp increases has caused alarm among citizens and the government. In recent years, Seoul has been struggling to tackle the rise in air pollution that experts have directly linked to both China's massively growing industrial activity and carbon dioxide emissions from South Korean cars.
On Tuesday, Mar. 5, 2019, China’s Premier Li Keqiang delivered a lower overall growth target for the upcoming year in his “Government Work Report” to the National People’s Congress (NPC), the nearly 3,000-member strong legislature (on paper) of the People’s Republic of China. The report comes during the annual parliamentary pageantry that is a meeting of the full NPC, with delegates loyally approving legislation, reports, and budgets as a de facto rubber stamping body and evidence of President Xi Jinping’s firm grip over Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese state in the 70th anniversary year of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.
The second highly anticipated summit between North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump, scheduled to run for at least two full days starting on Feb. 27, 2019, was abruptly cut short after US officials notified reporters covering the summit in Hanoi on Feb. 28 that the scheduled lunch between Trump and Kim had been canceled and further negotiations terminated.
Dutch customs officials reported on Feb. 26, 2019 the seizure of a container containing 90,000 bottles of Russian vodka that was listed as bound for China but believed to be headed for North Korea. This smuggling, intercepted a day before the two-day summit between the leaders of North Korea and the United States in Hanoi, is in breach of United Nations sanctions levied against North Korea.
China’s bustling capital city of Beijing has stepped up its efforts to deter hospital scalpers by employing facial recognition technology. These efforts are the latest in a series of technological and surveillance developments aimed at rejuvenating China’s ailing healthcare system, a system which has been the subject of much controversy and criticism since economic liberalization in the 1980s.
On Feb. 18, 2019, the English section of the online website for the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China (CPC), published an opinion piece with former Prime Minister of New Zealand Jenny Shipley’s name in the byline.
Europe’s biggest bank HSBC reported on Feb. 18, 2019 a 15.9 percent rise in pre-tax profits for its annual earnings in 2018 — falling short of market expectations — with analysts and HSBC officers citing an economic slump in China, Britain, and Hong Kong as the chief cause of the disappointing report. The large drop in fourth-quarter revenue sent expected share price for the bank tumbling by 3.3 percent on Feb. 20, 2019.
On Jan. 21, 2019, Japan’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) issued a final statement regarding the Japanese-South Korean “radar feud” that occurred at the end of last year. The event triggering the dispute occurred on Dec. 20, 2018, in which a South Korean KDX-I destroyer allegedly locked on its fire-control radar onto a P-1 patrol aircraft of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) flying over the waters off the coast of Japan’s Noto Peninsula.
In a report published last month, the ADM Capital Foundation — a Hong Kong-based environmental advocacy foundation — found that Hong Kong has become the largest market for illegal wildlife products, including pangolin fins and rhino horns.
On Feb. 9, 2019, China’s Foreign Ministry expressed its firm opposition to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, the disputed northeastern border state of India, which concluded the same day.
In another development in the ongoing scandal regarding the slate of financial misconduct allegations against former Nissan Motor Corporation chairman Carlos Ghosn, French automaker Renault issued a statement on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, stating for the first time that Ghosn — in his capacity as CEO and chairman of Renault — had misused company’s funds to his personal benefit.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of South Korea has announced the formation of a massive inquiry into sexual assault and other forms of abuses in the country’s athletics community.
The Trump administration is increasing its efforts to prevent Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from expanding its 5G network in the United States and across the globe, reports show.
Alongside the contentious “nine-in-one” local elections held on Nov. 24, 2018, Taiwanese voters were also presented with a list of ten questions on a separate referendum ballot received at polling stations the same day.
In a stunning rebuke of the ruling pro-Taiwan Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Taiwanese voters sacked a majority of DPP officials serving in lower levels of government in favor of candidates from the opposition pro-PRC Nationalist Party (KMT) in “nine-in-one” local elections held on Nov. 24, 2018.
On Saturday, Dec. 1, China and US agreed on temporary truce in the ongoing trade war between the two economic giants over dinner at Buenos Aires, where world leaders were gathered for this year’s G20 summit. US President Donald Trump announced the decision to hold off new tariffs — which were scheduled to be raised from 10% to 25% in the new year — on Chinese imports for 90 days while Chinese President Xi Jinping said China will increase Chinese purchases of American products.
Jack Ma, co-founder and executive chairman of Chinese e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba Group, has been officially confirmed as a member of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The revelation came on Nov. 26, 2018 as the CPC’s official media outlet, the People’s Daily, published a list of individuals to be honored by the CPC and the Chinese government on the 40th anniversary of the reform and opening-up of the Chinese economy.
Italian luxury fashion house Dolce and Gabbana’s (D&G) abruptly cancelled its massive 500-look fashion show just hours before it was scheduled to begin on Nov. 21, 2018 in Shanghai amid a brewing public relations controversy over its “Eating with Chopsticks” advertisement series and racially offensive private messages allegedly sent by D&G co-founder Stefano Gabbana on social media platform Instagram.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has issued a new report, with new satellite images, detailing an undeclared operational missile base in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). The Nov. 12, 2018 report by the Washington, D.C. think tank confirms doubts over Pyongyang’s commitment to disarmament — specifically, its promise to halt the pursuit of long-range ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads — and casts further skepticism regarding its promise to work towards denuclearization, which was agreed upon during the historic summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and United States President Donald Trump in June of this year.
A working group from the Japanese ruling coalition on the issue of redressing wrongs committed by the Japanese government under the now-defunct Eugenic Protection Law has proposed that the Japanese government would apologize for and compensate victims of forced sterilization carried out over the five decades when the law was in force.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) concluded its two-month long Mass Games on Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018. This year’s iteration of the national event concluded with a highly choreographed gymnastics bonanza celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the regime — including over 100,000 North Korean gymnasts, singers, and actors who performed choreographies based on the regime’s history — and prominently featured Chinese President Xi Jinping in the same place of honor granted to former North Korean leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-un.
Taiwan experienced one of the worst train accidents in recent history on Oct. 21, 2018, when a Puyuma Express train came off the tracks near Su’ao, Yilan County, in Taiwan’s northeast, killing 18 and injuring at least 200 more.
The Supreme Court of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) has upheld a 2013 ruling that found that Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Corporation — a Japanese steelmaker — should compensate four South Koreans drafted into forced labor, under the Japanese colonial administration of the Korean Peninsula, in the early 1940s.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has stepped up efforts to advance and modernize China’s military technology, including efforts to obtain technologies from private sectors in China and abroad.
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