Tag Archives: security

Roundtable on Northeast Asian security and cooperation convened

Asia-Pacific Journal of Marine Science&Education convened roundtable on Northeast Asian security and cooperation on May 5. The roundtable brought together scholars from ADM Nevelskoy Maritime State University (MSUN), Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU), Far Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (FEB RAS) and KMI (Korean Maritime Institute). Participants had many questions to discuss, given the global shifts that the region and world have experienced in recent months. The pandemic and the ongoing rivalry between the United States and China have been exacerbated by major changes on the Korean Peninsula, the Ukrainian crisis, open confrontation between the collective West and Russia, and new massive quarantine measures in China that have further aggravated the difficult situation in international logistics.

The Korean Peninsula has traditionally become one of the central topics of discussion. Since the beginning of 2022, several significant events have taken place there. North Korea has put an end to its voluntary moratorium on long-range missile launches. Since January, more than 10 missile test launches have been carried out, including at least three tests of intermediate and intercontinental missiles.

On April 25, a parade was held in Pyongyang to mark the anniversary of the Korean People’s Army. The parade not only demonstrated the country’s progress in nuclear and missile sphere, but also confirmed the obvious failure of the tough international sanctions imposed against the DPRK. Strategic weapons systems similar to those used by the world’s leading nuclear powers, including missiles with a hypersonic warhead, were demonstrated. Increased activity at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, Sinpo South Shipyard, and at Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center means that the DPRK can test both SLBMs and low-yield nuclear warheads for its tactical systems, and launch military satellites into orbit.

All this is happening against the backdrop of the transfer of power in ROK to the new president Yoon Seok-youl. Already during the election campaign he voiced his conservative position regarding relations with the DPRK and advocated more intensive cooperation with the United States and Japan. Particularly, he proposed redeployment of U.S. nuclear bombers and submarines to the Korean peninsula as well as resumption of joint military drills with the United States that had been perceived as a threat by the DPRK. All this does not contribute to the normalization of the situation around the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia.

The situation in the regional and global economy is probably even more pessimistic. Participants noted that the economy was objectively more inertial compared to politics, like wind and waves: a squally wind came up and subsided, but the waves caused by that wind still sink the ships and wash away the coast… International trade, still suffering from supply chain disruptions and the pandemic-driven global downturn, is currently experiencing blow after blow. The events around Ukraine have become a catalyst for the process of redistribution of the global logistics market, and the new lockdowns in China, striking in their scale, have finally unbalanced the system that had been built for decades. So, in April-May, more than 200 million people were simultaneously in full quarantine in China; 344 large merchant ships were waiting off Shanghai as of May 3. China’s “zero-tolerance” policy at a time when the rest of the world has largely forgotten about the pandemic cannot but raise questions about its true goals. At the end of discussion, the participants agreed that contacts between scholars and researchers from the NEA countries should continue regardless of the current political situation, because too much is at stake. It can be destroyed very quickly, but restoration will be long, painful and costly. Our region has long surpassed Europe in terms of economic indicators. Therefore, at least, we should not consider the West a “beacon” of politics, morality and culture and blindly accept its attitudes if they lead to real damage to economy and standard of living of the population of the NEA countries. And as practical steps, in particular, it was proposed to shift the focus to the development of ties between small and medium-sized businesses and the implementation of new projects, including in the field of tourism, environmentally friendly fuel, and agriculture.

We live in a strange world – II

Dr. Sergei Smirnov, expert of Center for maritime transport and spatial logistics

Exactly one year has passed since my first comment on the impact of the new coronavirus infection on human civilization appeared on this site. I have to admit my obvious limitations as an oracle. Like the vast majority of earthlings,

I remembered too well the Hollywood plots when a magic vaccine created by the titanic efforts of WHO and the best scientists beats deadly pandemic, millions of people happily wait for their vaccination and finally, the dawn of a new day rises over the renewed world, which for sure will be better and happier than yesterday.

Reality, however, as usually, turned out to be much more mundane, sad and contradictory. WHO distinguished itself by its helplessness and inconsistency. Until now, they have not been able to even develop a unified methodology for testing and assessing the presence of immunity against COVID-19. By the “titanic” efforts of the pharmaceutical giants, a vaccine appeared, and not single, but a whole dozen. However, the bad virus continues to spread, mutates, masks the symptoms and kills. In general, it behaves like a normal ARVI, a fact that ordinary doctors initially had to clearly understand. Governments, with varying degrees of demonstrated concern (depending on domestic political considerations and the peculiarities of national mentality) continue to tirelessly protect their fellow citizens, gradually depriving them of civil rights and freedoms using high-tech methods. However, all this was quite to be expected.

I suggested that the pandemic would soon fade away, one way or another, and we would all have to face the many traditional and unconventional security threats again. Like the international terrorist organizations taking advantage of the new reality and start practicing bioterror methods. None of this has happened so far.

A year ago, I suggested that the pandemic would soon fade away, one way or another, and we would all have to face the many traditional and unconventional security threats again. Like the international terrorist organizations taking advantage of the new reality and start practicing bioterror methods. None of this has happened so far. With the pandemic, everything is clear; it will stay with us for a long time. The emergence of the AUKUS alliance, strange to the point of irrationality, should not be considered a threat to stability and security in the Asia-Pacific region. It is in no way capable of playing the role of “Asian NATO”, its creators put completely different meanings into AUKUS. The terrorists, represented by the Taliban, seem to have succeeded, seizing power in Afghanistan without a fight in August 2021. However, it was not their merit. It happened only because a new president finally appeared in the White House, who was determined to end the absurd, but extremely expensive 20-year messianic adventure in the Middle East.

The real threat to peace is emerging in the economic sphere, more precisely, in international trade. Its contours and scale is not yet fully understood, but tectonic shifts may arise if we neglect it. I mean the progressive imbalance in the international logistics system caused not by the pandemic as such, but by the “fight” against it.

Honestly, I was mistaken with the security forecasts. Moreover, if one my mistake was with a “plus” sign, then the second – an unambiguous and big “minus”.

The real threat to peace is emerging in the economic sphere, more precisely, in international trade. Its contours and scale is not yet fully understood, but tectonic shifts may arise if we neglect it. I mean the progressive imbalance in the international logistics system caused not by the pandemic as such, but by the “fight” against it.

The crisis in logistics led to a creeping rise in prices for foodstuffs, building materials, metal products, timber, natural gas … it is easier to list what did not rise in price.

A year ago, we noted with satisfaction that maritime transport, which accounts for almost 90% of world trade, has passed the test of the first COVID lockouts with relative excellence. Then the world economy began to gradually recover, this process was very uneven in different countries. Since November 2020, a shortage of container capacities began to appear, the planned delivery time of goods was disrupted, the cost of freight increased, etc. We hoped that these were temporary troubles, that the system would restore the normal rhythm of work, let’s just wait a little bit.

A year has passed, and these problems have only worsened. The crisis in logistics led to a creeping rise in prices for foodstuffs, building materials, metal products, timber, natural gas … it is easier to list what did not rise in price. It is important to understand that the volumes of production and transportation have remained practically unchanged. The most complex system of international logistics, under the influence of managerial decisions of state bodies, could not keep in a state of self-regulating stability. It is only unclear whether the “red line” of destructive no return has been already crossed.

A special responsibility today lies with China. It is no secret that a number of unpredictable unilateral actions by China aimed to protect against the spread of coronavirus infection within the country have caused the major turbulence in the global logistics market.

The globalized economy seems to have learned how to deal with financial crises. Today we are dealing with a threat of a different nature. I am afraid that the patented recipes of economists – Nobel laureates will not help here. It is necessary to admit the fallacy of many management decisions, to coordinate as far as possible the anti-COVID policies of different countries and international organizations, to wait and pray that the mechanisms of the market economy will help to recover once more.

Fairly, I should note that the collective West bears its share of the blame for the current crisis, and a very significant one.

A special responsibility today lies with China. It is no secret that a number of unpredictable unilateral actions by China aimed to protect against the spread of coronavirus infection within the country have caused the major turbulence in the global logistics market. The No. 2 world economy, firmly determined to become the No. 1, and the main “global factory” cannot afford to isolate itself and make serious decisions without calculating their consequences for the development of external relations. You simply cannot obtain the status of a global superpower without taking responsibility for others. The domestic economic situation in China is rather complicated today. An attempt to reorient towards domestic consumer market to the detriment of foreign economic relations is likely to be doomed to failure.

Fairly, I should note that the collective West bears its share of the blame for the current crisis, and a very significant one. By turning on the cash printing machine and generously appeasing its own population, the West does not solve the problem, but removes it from sight, thereby aggravating the situation with the growing imbalance in global logistics. “Industry 4.0”, “green energy” – all this is great. However, we may not live to see this bright future…