sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Thursday's Window

The Mouse that Roared

The North Korea Foreign Ministry accused the US of seeking to conquer North Korea. On 29 May, the Korean Central News Agency published a statement by an institute of the North Korean Foreign Ministry. The statement said, “The US has thus showcased its ulterior intention that it seeks a strength-based solution of the issues, though outwardly it advocates for dialogue.” 
The statement accused the US National Security Advisor and the Secretary of State of having “insulted the dignity of our supreme leadership and spitted out abusive language” by calling North Korea a “rogue regime.”
Why on Earth would the US want to conquer North Korea. Bringing the Hermit Kingdom forward to 2019 standards that the rest of the planet accepts, and just to feed the starving nation would cost a trillion dollars. You broke it, you bought it... no, the Norks have it wrong. The place would survive on charity from the South Koreans for generations until it could get up and running. Don't get me wrong, the Koreans are hard working people, but North Korea is where Venezuela is heading. The place is a dump, run by a weird little dictator. 

The international community will pitch in to help them. There have been many offers, providing they stop shooting off missiles and building nuclear weapons. But the leadership there knows that once the people know the truth of North Korea, how they've been used, tortured and starved by their elites, they'd likely be hung by their devoted people.

The statement indicates North Korea is building the public justification for breaking off talks. In North Korean political mythology, every weapon the US tests is intended for use against North Korea. The US President’s failure to remove two senior officials that North Korea finds offensive is another sign of bad faith.

The lack of criticism of the US President strongly suggests that the Korean peninsula would be in a nuclear crisis but for his rapport with Kim Jong Un.

China Trade

Chinese leaders planning to restrict exports of rare earth elements in the trade war. During the Foreign Ministry press session on 29 May, spokesman Lu Kang answered an obviously planted question about rare earth elements.
A reporter asked, “Yesterday an official of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said that the Chinese people will not be happy if someone wants to use products made by rare earths exported from China to suppress China's development. The statement was also carried by Xinhua News Agency. Does it mean that the Chinese side has new considerations on using rare earths as a countermeasure against the US side?”

Lu Kang replied tersely, “Since the NDRC is one of the departments of the Chinese government, the remarks made by the NDRC official certainly are a voice of authority.”
Fine Print, for your reference: China is currently our largest goods trading partner with $659.8 billion in total (two way) goods trade during 2018. Goods exports totaled $120.3 billion; goods imports totaled $539.5 billion. The U.S. goods trade deficit with China was $419.2 billion in 2018.

Trade in services with China (exports and imports) totaled an estimated $77.3 billion in 2018. Services exports were $58.9 billion; services imports were $18.4 billion. The U.S. services trade surplus with China was $40.5 billion in 2018.

According to the Department of Commerce, U.S. exports of Goods and Services to China supported an estimated 911,000 jobs in 2015 (latest data available) (601,000 supported by goods exports and 309,000 supported by services exports). 

In Chinese crisis management practice, the hard decisions are discussed and made early, but their execution is stayed for a specific time period or set of conditions to see whether the final decision might be avoided. The statement that the Chinese leaders are considering a ban means they have already made the decision that an export ban is an appropriate countermeasure and made preparations to implement it but have not yet ordered its execution. 

The US would respond by finding other sources for rare earths, and would exploit those, making the Chinese threat moot in the long run. There are always unintended consequences and the Chinese want to get back to business as usual, looting the US.

Venezuela

Talks in Oslo ended without agreement. 

Speaking on national television, Maduro said the government had prepared for the Norway talks with months of secret negotiations. "The only way forward is dialogue," he said. "We want a peace deal."

Opposition leader Guaido said, "There was no immediate agreement, so the chance that we have today is to remain in the streets…We want to reach a solution to the conflict."

Norwegian Foreign Minister Soreide said, "The parties have demonstrated their willingness to move forward in the search for an agreed-upon and constitutional solution for the country, which includes political, economic and electoral matters."

Additional talks are not scheduled.