The drums of war in northeast Asia


Top politics and current affairs news for April 14, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina news roundup "China courts tiny countries."

Earlier this week, CNN reported that a U.S. naval flotilla is making its way to the waters around the Korean peninsula. Xinhua News Agency says that the state news agency of North Korea, which it prefers to call the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), has announced that “all the brigandish provocative moves of the U.S. in the political, economic and military fields…will be thoroughly foiled through the toughest counteraction of the army and people of the DPRK.” Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi has urged (on Xinhua) “all parties to refrain from inflammatory or threatening statements or deeds to prevent irreversible damage to the situation on the Korean Peninsula,” saying that “no one will win” if war breaks out. Xinhua also reports that Kim Jong-un has been supervising the “Korean People’s Army special forces airborne and target combat contest.”

Meanwhile, the South China Morning Post reports that Air China has suspended flights to Pyongyang but not as a punitive act as earlier reported in some media: Rather, the airline says that falling ticket sales have forced temporary cuts in service. The People’s Daily confirmed (in Chinese) that Chinese customs authorities have suspended coal imports from North Korea, however, the New York Times reports (paywall) that China said on April 13 “that its trade with the country had expanded, even though it had complied with United Nations sanctions and stopped buying North Korean coal.” One of the goods that may be included in trade between China and the DPRK are missile parts: The Washington Post says that parts of booster rockets seized by the South Korean navy after a North Korean missile test showed that “many key components were foreign-made, acquired from businesses based in China.”

In separate but related developments, Reuters reports that Japan is scrambling “jet fighters at record pace as Chinese military activity rises,” while Taiwan’s China Post says that shares on the island’s stock exchange “took a beating” on April 14, “as sentiment was affected by rising geopolitical tensions after the United States dropped a powerful bomb in Afghanistan earlier in the day.”