South Korea

McCully is really really cross with North Korea

Murray McCully is really really cross with North Korea.

New Zealand has joined others in swift condemnation of North Korea’s launch of a long-range ballistic missile.

North Korea’s decision to conduct a launch, and the nuclear test they carried out on January 6, are irresponsible and fly in the face of international opinion, Foreign Minister Murray McCully says.

North Korea said its intention was to put a satellite into orbit, but the US and its allies believe it was a cover for a test of a ballistic missile that could carry a nuclear warhead.

Mr McCully said New Zealand would work with other UN Security Council members on an appropriate response to the launch.   Read more »

And now there is shooting

South Korea has fired warning shots across the border at a North Korean drone.

South Korea has fired warning shots after an unidentified object from North Korea was seen flying close to the rivals’ border, the South’s military said.

Media reported that it was a drone. The incident comes amid a deepening standoff between the Koreas in the wake of the North’s nuclear test one week ago.

The North Korean object turned around after the South fired the shots, the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. It did not say whether the South Koreans hit the object. Yonhap news agency reported that the South fired 20 rounds from machine guns at a drone.  Read more »

North Korea needs to call in the noise abatement officer, or they may go to war

The North Koreans set off a nuke, scare the pants off people and then get all pissy and start threatening war over a few loudspeakers blaring K-Pop at them.

South Korea’s loudspeaker broadcasts aimed at North Korea are pushing the rivals to the “brink of war”, a top North Korean official has told a propaganda rally.

North Korea’s fourth nuclear test on Wednesday angered the United States and China, which was not given prior notice, although the US government and weapons experts doubt the North’s claim that the device it set off was a hydrogen bomb.

In retaliation for the test, South Korea on Friday (local time) unleashed a ear-splitting propaganda barrage over its border with the North. The last time South Korea deployed the loudspeakers, in August 2015, it triggered an exchange of artillery fire.   Read more »

National pushes for trade as Labour tries to tax and ban

New Zealand in a Glass 600x350

Another win for our exporters

New Zealand’s free trade agreement with South Korea is now in force.

New Trade Minister Todd McClay says the deal, which was finalised late last year, will bring significant commercial benefits to New Zealand exporters. Read more »

David Parker throws a xenophobic hissy fit with a dash of hypocrisy for flair

South Korea-based buyers may have open access to New Zealand’s housing market assured under a new trade deal, prompting warnings it could undermine New Zealand’s sovereignty.

Labour says the wording in the NZ-South Korea FTA is a blunder that could tie a future government’s hands and allow challenges if New Zealand adopted the sort of measures applied to foreign buyers by Australia.

It wants to block non-resident buyers acquiring residential homes here, unless they are new builds or apartments, as a way to take some of the heat out of the Auckland market.

But Labour trade and export spokesman David Parker said the deal with the Republic of Korea, announced in November, had been “botched up” by National.

“National doesn’t want to ban foreign buyers of New Zealand houses, but Labour does. Now National is limiting the freedom of the next government to ban house sales to foreigners or to introduce stamp duties targeting foreign buyers,” he said.

I’m sick of people attacking foreigners.   It looks like Labour is trying to out-Winston Winston.   Read more »

Desperate National keep doing dumb stuff

National are desperate in Northland and just keep on doing dumb stuff.

The latest cock-up is to suggest that Winston Peters doesn’t care about Northland because he opposes a Free Trade Agreement with Korea.

National is running hard today with the message that Winston Peters does not have Northland’s interests at heart because he is opposed to the free trade agreement with Korea that would demonstrably help avocado and kiwifruit growers and farmers in Northland.

Acting Prime Minister Bill English also suggested that a bill sponsored by a New Zealand First MP could block the legislation associated with the free trade agreement going through.

National candidate Mark Osborne mocked Mr Peters’ promises made yesterday while campaigning for Saturday’s byelection on the streets of Kaitaia that he would back a referendum on cannabis, a pledge he withdrew an hour later.

And ministers at Parliament today have attacked Mr Peters as “Machiavellian” and “unpredictable.”

Read more »

Perhaps Gareth Morgan can give them some advice

Gareth Morgan has all sorts of advice lately, but perhaps he might like to take his motorbike on a trip to Vietnam to give them some assistance with a little culinary problem they are having.

VICE News reports:

Just after midnight on Tuesday, police in Hanoi detained a truck smuggling three tons of live cats into Vietnam. The driver, a 30-year-old man named Hoang Van Hieu, admitted that the ill-begotten cats were bound for restaurants in the country, where cat meat is, in fact, a delicacy, especially in the provinces of Thai Binh and Nam Dinh, not far from Hanoi.

“After receiving a tip, we searched the truck and discovered the cats inside,” Sky News quoted Dong Da district deputy chief of police Cao Van Loc as saying. “The owner, also the driver, said he bought the cats at the [Chinese] border area of Quang Ninh province. All of the cats were from China.”

With an average adult weight of about ten pounds for a healthy domestic feline, three tons means we’re talking hundreds of cats. The animals, crammed on top of one another in bamboo cages, were just the latest haul in a small cat-trafficking market that sources from nearby China, Laos, and Thailand to satiate Vietnam’s appetite for kitty flesh.    Read more »


Why does the UN want immunity from prosecution for its Global Warming Fund?

The UN is pushing hard for agreements with nations to extend immunity from prosecution to their global warming piggy bank.

Why do they need this?

These sorts of rear guard actions lend credence tot he suspicion that there is some sort of misfeasance going on already and they are trying to head off prosecutions.

The Green Climate Fund, (GCF) a United Nations-affiliated piggy-bank  intended to finance climate change projects around the world, is determined to win sweeping U.N.-style immunities from prosecutions for its global operations–even though  the U.S., its biggest contributor, opposes the idea, and the U.N. itself says its own diplomatic immunities can’t cover the outfit.

The immunities issue could well spark even deeper opposition from Republican lawmakers in next year’s Congress to the Obama Administration’s aggressive climate change policies–which include a recent $3 billion pledge to the Fund.

“We would definitely be opposed to any extension of immunity to the Fund,” said a senior aide to Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, who will chair the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works starting in January.

“What do they need protection from?” he asked. “In essence, they are doing business development projects. If you look at the way millions of people do transactions across national borders, they do it without immunity and very successfully.”

Apparently undeterred, fund officials told Fox News that they are now trying to hammer out “bilateral agreement templates” that could be laboriously negotiated with each country where it operates—a total that could eventually reach the great majority of  the U.N.’s 193 members.

The Fund has already negotiated one agreement of immunity—with its new host country, South Korea, as a condition of moving its headquarters there last year.   Read more »

Free trade deal done with South Korea

While the left wing were marching in the streets opposing the TPPA another free trade deal has snuck under their radar.

New Zealand has completed a free trade deal with South Korea.

New Zealand and South Korea have concluded a free-trade agreement that’s expected to cut $230 million of export tariffs in New Zealand’s sixth-largest export market, including $65 million in the first year.

The deal, which was announced on the sidelines of the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Brisbane, will initially eliminate tariffs on 48 percent of current New Zealand exports, with duties largely eliminated within 15 years. Two-way trade between the countries is worth about $4 billion.

South Korea has said it also aims to conclude FTAs with China and Vietnam before the end of the year, after agreeing recent deals with Australia and Canada. New Zealand is actively seeking such agreements after trade with China soared since an FTA was inked in 2008. The Korean FTA marks Prime Minister John Key’s first bilateral deal since being elected leader.

The Korean talks, begun in 2009, have previously stalled amid Korean concern about the impact of New Zealand agricultural exports on domestic producers.

“It has been a long, hard agreement to reach,” Key told reporters in Brisbane. “It’s a high quality deal. It was always going to be a tough negotiation but we have got ourselves now back into a level playing field with those countries that compete heavily in the Korean market and I think a lot of New Zealand industry will be happy about the outcome.”

Tariffs slated for elimination include a 45 percent rate on kiwifruit, 22.5 percent charged on sheep meat, a 40 percent levy on beef and an 89 percent tariff on butter.

Read more »

Where is Kim Jong-un?

Has there been a coup in North Korea?

Where is Kim Jong-un?

He has not been seen in public for nearly 40 days. There is increasing speculation that there has been a coup in North Korea.

Foreign Policy analyses the situation:

It’s now been 36 days since Kim Jong Un was last seen in public. Is his absence good for North Korea and the threat it poses to the rest of the world? Or should we hope that he returns?

Most North Korea experts seem to believe that he soon will indeed end his absence — or that he will at least give a signal of his continued grip on power. Oct. 10, which marks the country’s Party Founding Day, has been cited as a possible time for his return. By contrast, many Western news sources — or at least their headlines — are speculating that Kim has met with a serious illness, or been ousted in a coup. Headlines like theGuardian‘s “Kim Jong Un: Has the North Korean Dynasty Fallen?” abound.

Setting aside for now the impossible question of where Kim has gone — Pyongyang’s state-run media say he is sick, though he could also be under house arrest, dead, on vacation, or simply bored of appearing in public — North Korea is arguably much more stable with Kim at the helm. (First, the eternal caveat when writing about North Korea: The country is more opaque than an eye afflicted with cataracts, so much of what I’m writing is speculation.)

The most dangerous thing about North Korea is its unpredictability. Because we know so little about what Pyongyang wants, or why it does what it does, it’s difficult to prepare for contingencies. North Korea has recently taken several steps to improve its ability to fire missiles at the United States: It has upgraded its main rocket-launch site, increased production of fissile material, and tested engines for a missile that could reach U.S. territory. Military planners and decision-makers in the U.S. government — and in other countries — need to be able to predict the likelihood that Kim will launch an attack on their country.

Read more »