Former CNN Correspondent for Asia-Pacific Region
Former CNN Asia Correspondent Mike Chinoy is a Senior Fellow at the U.S.-China Institute at the University of Southern California and the creator of the Assignment China documentary film series on the history of American correspondents in China. Read More >
Being a Journalist
Dealing with North Korea
Donald Trump campaigned for President by denouncing China, threatening to impose punishing tariffs of Chinese goods, questioning the decades-old U.S. policy towards Taiwan, and belittling American alliances in Asia, however, the worst has not happened. Trump has backed off threats of a Sino-American trade war, endorsed the “one-China” policy, held a successful summit with Chinese president Xi Jinping. accepted an invitation to visit China later in the year, reaffirmed U.S. alliance relationships, and sent his Vice President and key cabinet officials to the region. While these reversals have brought Trump closer to traditional U.S. positions, the road ahead remains uncertain, and the risk of political or economic conflict, outright military clashes, or even full-scale war in the region remains. Trump has deliberately heightened tensions with North Korea by displays of military muscle-flexing and threats that “all options are on the table.” He has linked a reduction in Sino-American trade tensions to Beijing’s willingness to pressure North Korea to abandon its nuclear program. More broadly, Trump has failed to put forth a coherent long-term strategy for Asia. His administration remains torn between what some observers have described as the “axis of ideologues” and the “axis of adults.” Most fundamentally, Trump’s own core beliefs and values- if he has any - remain unclear. The result is continuing uncertainty about American policy in Asia, and growing anxiety about what Trump might do if and when the inevitable crisis in the region erupts.
Nearly three years after succeeding his father Kim Jong II, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un remains an enigma, presiding over the most closed, opaque, and, to most outsiders, bizarre state in the world. With a million-strong army and a steadily growing nuclear and missile capability, North Korea is widely viewed as one of the most dangerous security threats in Asia. At the same time, however, North Korea’s one decrepit economy is showing signs of life, and conditions in the capital Pyongyang have improved noticeably. Despite Kim Jong Un’s almost cartoon-like image in the rest of the world, there is a discernable logic to North Korea, and to the actions of its youthful leader. In a region that has become a key driving force in the global economy, making sense of North Korea is critical to assessing the prospects for stability or conflict in Northeast Asia. Read More >
Could there be a war on the Korean peninsula?
North Korea’s steadily increasing nuclear capabilities, and the likelihood it will soon have an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States, combined with the Trump administration’s warnings of possible U.S. military action, have raised tensions to a level not seen in decades.
What is driving North Korea to expand its nuclear and missile program? How will the unsettled politics in South Korea affect the situation? Is China willing- or able- to pressure Pyongyang too change its policies, as the Trump administration is demanding? Will the more muscular U.S. approach serve to deter the regime of Kim Jong Un, or make an armed conflict likely? What would be the economic, strategic, and humanitarian consequences of a new Korean war?
With the Trump administration identifying North Korea as its most pressing foreign policy crisis, all these questions have taken on a new urgency.
Mike Chinoy, CNN’s former Senior Asia Correspondent and currently Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the University of Southern California’s U.S.-China Institute, is uniquely placed to address these issues. He is the author of two books on North Korea, Meltdown: The Inside Story of the North Korean Nuclear Crisis, and The Last POW, and has visited North Korea 17 times over the past three decades. Read Less ^
The rise of China is arguably the most important trend in the world today. In barely a generation, the People’s Republic has become an increasingly assertive global economic, diplomatic and military power. Its rise poses significant challenges for the United States and the international community. The growing “strategic distrust” between Beijing, the U.S. and China’s Asian neighbors has created a serious threat to peace, stability and security in the region, raising a host of difficult questions. Will an increasingly powerful China be a rival or a partner? How will Beijing reshape the international economy and regional and global security arrangements? Will it seek to push the U.S. back from its historically dominant role in the Asia-Pacific as it moves to reclaim China’s status as a great power? Above all, facing massive problems of income inequality, corruption, environmental degradation and political legitimacy, can China's leaders sustain their country’s ambitious rise? Or could the greatest threat turn out to be not China's success, but its potential failure?
Asia has six of the world's ten largest economies, seven of the ten largest militaries, six of the ten greatest consumers of energy, and six of the ten largest polluters. It will almost certainly be the world's center of gravity in the 21st century. Yet, in the United States, preoccupied by Iraq, Iran, the Middle East and domestic concerns, Asia is frequently almost an afterthought – in the government, the media, and public discussion. One result: the US is paying less attention to Asia, with a corresponding decrease in American influence, reflected in China's increasing regional clout and Washington's growing inability to shape events and protect its interests. Is the US in danger of missing out on the Asian century?
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