Thursday, December 5, 2013

Mr Biden, do you like kimchi? It's hot and fiery!

US Vice President Joe Biden is in South Korea by now, the third and final leg of his three-nation East Asian trip. No doubt he will plead with the South Koreans not to expand their own (currently limited) ADIZ which, if extended, will very likely overlap with both Japan's and China's ADIZs. Maybe he'll find the kimchi stew at the dinner reception more agreeable!

So there will be a menage of three fiery historical enemies, two of them US allies! President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry must be secretly glad they are not the ones making this thankless trip. Maybe only Mr Biden likes kimchi.

I found this PBS interview with two former senior US officials who were heavily involved in East Asian security affairs: Kurt Campbell and Susan Shirk. The interview occurred on the eve of Mr Biden's trip:

Examining U.S. interests in calming tensions between China and Japan

I had, in my earlier blog, used the analogy of China being perceived as a "paper tiger" by its own worked-up citizens if it failed to act more forcefully once its ADIZ was inplemented. Ms Shirk used the same analogy!...

SUSAN SHIRK: No, I don't think China will back off and I don't think -- I mean, although that would be our preference.
I think what we should do is to press both sides to consult on emergency communication measures in order to prevent accidents. And we should also ask China what its intentions are in the South China Sea, because, in that announcement it made on the air defense notification zone, it said it intended to announce further zones in certain areas, which could mean that where we are heading up on a similar crisis in the South China Sea.
And this is really very dangerous, because, right now, the nationalist public in China is pressing the government and saying, are you just a paper tiger? You have made this threat, and you are not acting upon it. And that is one thing I am quite concerned about.

There is also this snippet in TODAY (Dec 5) which suggests that, in upping the ante, China wants Japan to acknowledge that they both have a territorial dispute over the islands in question:    


I thought these two pics in TODAY (one from yesterday's edition and one from today's) provide an interesting study in handshake diplomacy -- and what these men are thinking of as they pose for the respective photo ops...

Firm handshake and some back slapping between "old" friends... will it be a case of a friend in need is a friend indeed?

Just the firm handshake between "new" friends... but who will end up as primus inter pares (first among equals)?

Or maybe President Xi was telling Mr Biden to read the latest Pew report!...


Finally, sometimes a story and an ad get, unfortunately, juxtaposed:

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