CPGB-ML » Posts in 'Asia Pacific' category

China builds state-of-the-art desalination plant

From the International Report delivered to the CPGB-ML’s central committee on 5 November

On the outskirts of Beijiang, southeast of Beijing, a Chinese publicly-owned corporation SDIC has built what the New York Times refers to as a “technical marvel: an ultrahigh-temperature, coal-fired generator with state-of-the-art pollutions controls, mated to advanced Israeli equipment that uses its leftover heat to distill seawater into fresh water”.

The fresh water so generated costs twice as much to produce as what it sells for. However, per capita fresh water supplies are dwindling at an alarming rate. With most enterprises wealthy enough to set up such a project being capitalist enterprises tied to profitability, not many desalination plants, although desperately needed, are being produced. It is fortunate that China is still able to make an important contribution to the future of humanity.

China’s goal is to quadruple its production of desalinated water by 2020 from the current 180m gallons to about 800m, which will require 10-12 more plants like the one that has just been completed. Currently, less than 60 percent of China’s desalination equipment is domestic, with the rest being imported mainly from Israel, but China plans to increase its production of such equipment to provide 90 percent of its needs by 2020.

Meanwhile, on 1 November, China launched an unmanned spacecraft into orbit whose function will be to practise docking techniques to join with the Tiangong-1 or ‘Heavenly Palace’ experimental module launched on 29 September. Space exploration is another project that economic crisis tends to wipe off the agenda of capitalist countries.

Developments in China

From the International Report delivered to the CPGB-ML’s central committee on 1 October

On 29 September, the 62nd anniversary of the founding of the PRC, China launched an experimental module to lay the groundwork for a future space station.

The car-sized Tiangong-1 module was shot into space from a launch centre on the edge of the Gobi Desert aboard a Long March 2FT1 rocket. After moving it into orbit 217 miles above the Earth, China plans shortly to launch an unmanned Shenzhou 8 spacecraft to practise remote-controlled docking manoeuvres.

Two more missions, at least one of them manned, are to meet up with it next year for further practice, with astronauts staying for up to one month.

The 8.5-ton module, whose name translates as Heavenly Palace-1, will stay in place for two years. Two other experimental modules will be launched after this, followed between 2020 and 2022 by the actual station in three sections.

China has succeeded in warning off US imperialism from supplying Taiwan with the 66 F-16 fighter jets that had been negotiated. China had announced it was cutting off all military cooperation with the US if that contract went ahead, and the US has bowed to the pressure.

Although the US will instead be helping Taiwan upgrade its existing forces, it is thought that Taiwan will no longer have the independent military power to ward off any attempt by China forcibly to reintegrate it into the mainland.

North Korea attacks South Korea … or is it the other way around?

South Korean war games that fired shells across the border and simulated an invasion of the North provoked a response from the DPRK.

South Korean war games that fired shells across the border and simulated an invasion of the North provoked a response from the DPRK.

By Steve Gowans, via what’s left

If you read Mark McDonald’s article in The New York Times, ‘”Crisis status” in South Korea after North shells island’, the answer depends on whether you paid attention to the headline, the expert commentary, and the tone of the article, or whether you paid attention to the facts.

If you paid attention to the former then North Korea attacked South Korea.

If you paid attention to the latter, the opposite is true.

Here are the facts McDonald reported.

  • 70,000 South Korean troops were beginning a military drill … sharply criticised by Pyongyang as “simulating an invasion of the North” and “a means to provoke a war”.
  • ROK [South Korean] artillery units fired toward the DPRK [North Korea] from a battery close to the North Korean coast. The South acknowledges firing the shots.
  • The DPRK replied.

Shouldn’t the headline read: ‘”Crisis status” in North Korea after South Korea mobilises 70,000 troops and shells the North’?

Korean news agency reports on CPGB-ML delegation in Korea


Talks between WPK and CPGB-ML held

Pyongyang, 23 September 23 (KCNA)

Talks between the delegations of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) were held in Pyongyang on Thursday.

Present at the talks from the WPK side were Department Director Kim Yong Il and officials of the Central Committee of the WPK and the CPGB-ML side members of the delegation of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) led by General Secretary Zane Carpenter.

At the talks, both sides informed each other of the activities of their parties and exchanged views on further developing the relations between the two parties and matters of mutual concern.

Gift from CPGB-ML Delegation

Pyongyang, 23 September 23 (KCNA)

General Secretary Kim Jong Il was presented with a gift by the visiting delegation of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist).

The gift was handed to Department Director of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea Kim Yong Il by General Secretary of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) Zane Carpenter who is heading the delegation on Thursday.

Socialist Korea at the World Cup!

During June-July, South Africa will host the World Cup, the greatest event in international football, for the first time on the African continent. This is a reflection of how far the country has come, as a non-racial democracy, respected by the world, since the dark days of apartheid.

But in this World Cup, there will be just one team representing a nation where sport does not serve the interests of big business, but rather those of the working class; one country where football, and all sports, are at the service of people’s enjoyment, education and health; where there is opportunity and access for all; and where sport is used to promote international friendship and peace, rather than jingoism and chauvinism. That country is the socialist Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

This is the second time that the DPRK has qualified for the World Cup. In the 1966 World Cup, hosted and won by England, the DPRK shook some of the giants of world football, knocking out Italy and taking on Portugal in the quarterfinals. No other Asian team had ever advanced so far in a World Cup. And, although eventually succumbing 5-3 to Portugal, at one point the DPRK was 3-0 up.

Prior to the 1966 World Cup, Korean leader Comrade Kim Il Sung had told his country’s players: “European and South American nations dominate international football. As representatives of the Asia/Africa region, as coloured people, I urge you to win one or two games.”

Cabinet papers released 30 years later show how, in 1966, the British Labour government tried to prevent the DPRK team from playing in the World Cup, only relenting when it was pointed out that FIFA might take the competition away from them. But they did insist on some petty and vindictive restrictions, such as not allowing the DPRK national anthem to be played before games.

However, the attitude of the British working class towards their brothers from Korea was very different from that of the imperialist Labour Party. The people of Middlesborough, where most of their games were played, took them to their hearts and remember them to this day. As Pak Do Ik, who scored the winning goal against Italy, put it many years later:

“The English people took us to their hearts and vice versa. I learned that football is not about winning. Wherever we go … playing football can improve diplomatic relations and promote peace.”

When the DPRK players travelled to Everton’s Goodison Park ground in Liverpool for their final game, more than 2,000 local people travelled with them from Middlesborough to cheer them on.

This year, the DPRK is drawn in the ‘Group of Death’, against Brazil, Portugal and the Ivory Coast, meaning that the largely unknown DPRK players will find themselves pitted against such contemporary legends as Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Didier Drogba. But, as ever, the DPRK has some powerful defensive deterrents, as well as means of attack, like Jong Tae-Se. Known as ‘Asia’s Wayne Rooney’, this third generation Japanese Korean plays for J-League side Kawasaki Frontale.

To celebrate the DPRK’s success in again making it to the World Cup, the CPGB-ML is hosting a showing of The Game of Their Lives.

This inspiring and award-winning 2002 documentary tells the full, extraordinary story of the last time this small but fearless nation took on the giants of world football. There will also be speakers from the CPGB-ML and other friends of Korea, as well as refreshments.

All friends of Korea and anti-imperialist football fans are welcome!

Public meeting on Saturday 12 June, 6.00pm in west London. Full details here.

Statement: The case of drug trafficker Akmal Shaikh and the just stance of the People’s Republic of China

[Issued jointly by Hands off China and the CPGB-ML]

Akmal Shaikh, a British citizen, was found guilty by the highest Chinese Court, the Supreme People’s Court, of smuggling just over 4 kilograms of heroin into China. It is generally well known that this offence carries the death penalty in China. In its crackdown on drug-related crimes, China treats criminals of all nationalities exactly the same. In the case of Mr Shaikh, China’s Criminal Code and court procedures were immaculately followed – in word and in spirit. Following his failed appeal, Mr Shaikh was executed by a lethal injection.

In response to this, the imperialist media and the political spokesmen of imperialism went into overdrive denouncing the execution of Mr Shaikh as inhuman and a violation of human rights. The British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, condemned the execution “in the strongest terms”, stating that he was “appalled and disappointed that our persistent requests for clemency have not been granted”.

The British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, too, expressed “deep regret” over “the fact that our specific concerns about the individual in this case were not taken into consideration,” adding that there had been “inadequate professional interpretation” provided to Mr Shaikh during the trial.

It has even been suggested by the imperialist media and imperialism’s political representatives that Mr Shaikh was somehow mentally impaired, without any substantial evidence to back this claim. The Chinese state media have refuted this assertion, quoting China’s Supreme People’s Court as saying that although officials from the British Embassy and Reprieve, a human rights group, had asked for a mental health examination of Mr Shaikh, “the documents they provided could not prove he had a mental health disorder nor did members of his family have a history of mental disease”. The Supreme People’s Court stated: “There is no reason to cast doubt on Akmal Shaikh’s mental status”. There is no evidence whatsoever of Mr Shaikh consulting any doctor concerning his mental health during his 53 years of life.

In the light of this, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Jiang Yu, quite correctly said: “We express our strong dissatisfaction and opposition to the British accusation”. She advised “the British side” to face this case squarely and not create new obstacles for China-Britain relations.

Ms Jiang was absolutely right, for the response to Mr Shaikh’s execution is yet another example of the continuing anti-China activities undertaken by imperialism to undermine the People’s Republic of China and its efforts to build a powerful and prosperous China which does not tolerate any foreign interference in its internal affairs. Imperialism is out to create trouble for China, be it on the question of Tibet, the environment, the Beijing Olympics, or Xinjiang.

Mr Shaikh took his unwanted wares to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region where Muslims account for over 40% of the population. Over the past few years, there have been disturbances in this region fanned by counter-revolutionary agents of imperialism. It is not entirely out of the question, although there is no proof at the moment, that Mr Shaikh went to Xinjiang on a mission directly or indirectly organised by an imperialist agency. History knows only too well that the smuggling of drugs and literature inciting religious hatred is among the tools of imperialist penetration. This method was well practised by various imperialist countries against the erstwhile Soviet Union and the former socialist countries. It is now being practised against the People’s Republic of China. Imperialism leaves no stone unturned in inciting religious and ethnic divisions – all for the purpose of destabilising the People’s Republic of China. This is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that this methodology is resorted to.

The Chinese people are naturally very sensitive to such dirty tricks. Before liberation in 1949, when, in the words of Comrade Mao Zedong, “the Chinese people stood up”, China had been subjected to national humiliation and oppression through colonialist and imperialist brigandage. Britain waged three Opium Wars to force the trade in, and addiction to, opium on the Chinese people. Hong Kong was occupied by Britain as a station for smuggling narcotics into China. Quite rightly the Chinese people do not wish to return to those days and treat with the utmost of severity those who, whatever their religion, nationality or race, want to purvey the scourge of drug addiction.

Britain’s record the world over, including in China, is shameful. There is very little in it that decent working people could be proud of. One must thus marvel at the suggestion in 2005 by Gordon Brown that it was time that “we” stopped apologising for the British empire and started celebrating a past which had generated values of tolerance, liberty and civic duty. This is not the view of the hundreds upon hundreds of millions of people in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Ireland, all of whom were subjected to massacres, torture, genocide, arbitrary executions, dispossession, super-exploitation and domination. This is not a view shared by the Chinese people, who underwent tortures, large-scale massacres, expropriation, deprivation of liberty and forced drug addiction at the hands of imperialism. Instead of lecturing China about human rights and the value of human life, the present-day representatives of imperialism should offer profuse apologies for their crimes against the Chinese as well as other peoples. At the very least they should stop interfering in their internal affairs.

The imperialists’ pretended concern for human rights, those of Mr Shaikh included, is particularly inappropriate when the United States and Britain, along with their satellites, have killed over a million innocent Iraqi men, women and children and forced 5 million Iraqis to become refugees in their own country or abroad and are well on their way to achieving the same effect in Afghanistan – all in pursuit of predatory imperialist wars aimed at domination and the extraction of maximum profit.

If the British and American governments are really concerned about human rights of individuals, specially those who belong to the Muslim faith, they should stop torturing detainees in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and dozens of other rendition centres to which illegally abducted individuals are routinely sent to be tortured. The British government should stop its persecution of the Muslim community in Britain and put an end to the arbitrary incarceration of hundreds of Muslim youth. The US and Britain, if they are truly concerned about human rights, democracy and the rule of law, should immediately withdraw their aggressor troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, and they should stop supporting the continuing Zionist genocide against the Palestinian people, 1.5 million of whom, living in the Gaza Strip, are subject to a vicious and fascistic siege designed ethnically to cleanse the region of its population.

In the light of the foregoing, the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) and Hands Off China! issue this Joint Statement to condemn in the strongest terms the attempts of the British and US governments, as well as these countries’ media, to portray China in the darkest of colours over the case of Mr Shaikh. At the same time, we express our full support for, and solidarity with, the Chinese people, their government, their legal system, as well as the Communist Party of China, for correctly handling the case of Mr Shaikh and standing up to the bullying attempts of imperialism to make China bend its legal system to unreasonable demands made on them by those who are historically used to interfering in other people’s affairs and to obtain obedience by force.

European court removes Sison from EU terrorist blacklist

Press release from the international DEFEND committee

The European Court of First Instance (ECFI) annulled yesterday all decisions and a regulation of the Council of the European Union (EU) that had maintained Prof Jose Maria Sison in its so-called terrorist blacklist.

The removal of the name of Prof Sison from the blacklist is the essence or main point of the ECFI judgment on Case T-341/07 of Prof Sison against the Council of EU. It directly unfreezes Sison’s funds in his small bank account and allows him to engage in financial dealings like any ordinary person.

To annul the acts of the Council in blacklisting Prof Sison and freezing his account, the ECFI ruled that the national decisions done in The Netherlands and relied upon by the Council did not relate to the instigation of investigations or prosecution or to a conviction for terrorist activity, contrary to the requirements of European Community Law.

Aside from unfreezing the funds of Prof Sison, the ECFI judgment opens the way for him to assert and enjoy all his rights that have been restricted or suppressed due to the false charge of terrorism.  He can benefit from the judgment in the following ways:

1. To claim back the social payments for living allowance, housing, health insurance and old age pension which have been withdrawn from him since 2002;

2. To seek gainful employment or render professional services with remuneration;

3. To secure legal admission as a refugee and a residence permit;

4. To travel freely without restrictions;

5. To be free from being labelled and stigmatized as a terrorist; and

6. To claim moral and material damages for what he has suffered since 2002.

The International DEFEND Committee is calling on all its adherents, supporters and friends to celebrate the legal victory of Prof Jose Maria Sison in the European Court and at the same time to become more determined than ever before in demanding that the Dutch government and Council of the EU change their hostile policy towards him.
The Dutch government and the Council of the EU must   cease and desist from being the vehicles of false charges and tools of persecution of the US and Philippine governments against Prof. Jose Maria Sison.  He must be  allowed and encouraged to act freely and fruitfully  as the chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in peace negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines.

For reference please contact:
Ruth de Leon
International Coordinator-Committee DEFEND
Telephone:  00-31-30-8895306
Email: defenddemrights@yahoo.com

Letter/statement from Korean National Peace Committee

Friday, 29 May, 2009, 7:45 AM

Dear friends,

The situation of the Korean Peninsula, neither war nor peace, is running to the danger due to the anti-DPRK hostile policies of the antagonistic forces including the US and Japan.

The US , Japan and their followers tabled the DPRK’s launch of peaceful satellite in the UNSC and issued “presidential statement”. And then they are madly exercising the anti-DPRK hostile activities including imposing sanction to three companies of the DPRK and pointed many materials as forbidden items.

In relation to this, the DPRK government issued its spokesman’s statement which condemned the unjust and illegality of the UNSC and clarified that, unless that the UNSC gave up the sanction to the DPRK and apologized, the DPRK would take necessary means including a nuclear test and ICBM test launch to defend the supreme interest to cope with increasing the anti-DPRK hostile manoeuvres.

More than one month has already passed but there is no reaction to the statement yet. On the contrary, the hostile forces are further intensifying manoeuvres to overthrow the DPRK. In such a condition, the DPRK had no other option but to conduct the nuclear test.

Now the US and the Western mass medias are broadcasting distorted news on the truth of our launch of peaceful satellite and self-defensive measures.

Enclosed you will find the information on the background of our self-defensive measures to help you understand the grave situation prevailing on the Korean Peninsula.

Yours in peace,

Li Myong Guk
Secretary General, Korean National Peace Committee

The DPRK’s Launch Of The Artificial Satellite Is The Legitimate Right Under The International Law

It is a legitimate right equally enjoyed by all countries of the earth to explore outer space and use it for peaceful purposes.

The DPRK officially declared through the statement of spokesman for the Korean Committee of Space Technology on Feb.24, 2009 that it envisages launching practical satellites for communications, prospecting of natural resources and weather forecast, etc. essential for the economic development of the country in a few years to come and putting their operation on a normal footing at the first phase of the state long-term plan for space development and the preparations for launching experimental communications satellite were making brisk headway.

As a part of the preparations for launching experimental communications satellite, the DPRK acceded to the “treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of states in the Exploration and use of Outer Space including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies” and the “Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space” and informed the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Maritime Organization and other international organizations of necessary information for the safe navigation of planes and ships according to relevant regulations.

In addition to this, the DPRK confirmed on April 4, 2009 that as the preparations had been completed, the experimental communications satellite would be launched soon and there was no change in the technological indexes necessary for the safe navigation of airlines and ships provided to the international organizations and the countries concerned in advance.

However, the US, Japan and some of their allied forces, asserting that the DPRK’ s peaceful experimental communications satellite was a ballistic missile and the launch posed a threat to them, claimed that the UNSC should make the issue with the said matter from the first day when the news of the preparations for launching experimental communications satellite “Kwangmyongsong-2” had been proclaimed.

Japan which has committed the biggest crimes against the DPRK is taking the lead in this anti-DPRK racket.

The countries which find fault with the DPRK’ s satellite launch including the US and Japan launched satellites before it. In addition to this, they even had already many military satellites such as spy ones.

The logic that their satellites are not the threat to other countries but only the DPRK’ s one is that, so they may launch as many satellites as they want but the DPRK should not be allowed to do so is a paradox and vivid manifestation of hostility towards it.

There are not a few countries in the world that launched satellites but the UNSC has never dealt with nor put in question with the satellite launch by other individual countries.

Because it has no mandate to interfere in the independent and legitimate rights of the sovereign states to the development and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.

The DPRK Foreign Ministry clarified by the statement of its spokesman that the attempts of Japan and the US the parties to the six party talks, to deny discriminately the DPRK’ s right to use space for peaceful purposes and infringe upon its sovereignty diametrically run counter to the “spirit of mutual respect and equality” enshrined in the September 19 joint statement on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. If such hostile act is perpetrated in the name of the UNSC, this will precisely mean its denial of the said statement, therefore, the six party talks for the denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula would lose any ground to exist and their meaning.

However, the United States and its followers misused the United Nations Security Council to issue a brigandish “presidential statement” condemning the DPRK’s satellite launch on April 14, 2009 while defying its repeated warning.

The UNSC whose permanent members are those countries which launched more satellites than any other countries tabled and discussed the DPRK’s launch of satellite for peaceful purposes although it was legitimately conducted after going through procedures under international law. This is an intolerable mockery of the Korean people and a flagrant violation of our sovereignty.

The UNSC’s action ran counter not only to the outer space treaty which stipulates that “Outer space shall be free for exploration and use by all States without discrimination of any kind, on a basis of equality and in accordance with international law” but also to the principle of sovereign equality and impartiality stipulated in the UN Charter.

The DPRK Foreign Ministry made public of following statement to cope with the prevailed situation:

“First, the DPRK vehemently refutes and condemns the unjust action taken by the UNSC wantonly infringing upon the sovereignty of the DPRK and seriously hurting the dignity of the Korean people.

The DPRK will continue to exercise its independent right to the use of outer space based on international law including the outer space treaty reflecting the unanimous will of the international community, not on arbitrary practices of the UNSC which has been reduced to a tool for high-handed acts.

Second, there is no need any more to have the six-party talks which the DPRK has attended.

The spirit of respect for sovereignty and sovereign equality clarified in the September 19 joint statement for denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula is the basis and the life and soul of the six-party talks.

The six-party talks have lost the meaning of their existence never to recover now that the parties to the talks themselves totally denied this spirit in the name of the UNSC and now that Japan , which has desperately obstructed the talks from their outset, openly and unilaterally applied sanctions against the DPRK over its satellite launch.

The DPRK will never participate in such six-party talks nor will it be bound any longer to any agreement of the talks as they have been reduced to a platform for encroaching upon its sovereignty and forcing it to disarm itself and bringing down its system.

It will positively examine the construction of its light water reactor power plant in order to round off the structure of the Juche-based nuclear power industry

Third, the DPRK will boost its nuclear deterrent for self-defence in every way.

The hostile forces’ escalated military threat that they will intercept even a satellite for peaceful purpose compels the DPRK to further increase its nuclear deterrent.

The DPRK will take a measure to restore to their original state the nuclear facilities which had been disabled according to the agreement of the six-party talks and bring their operation back on a normal track and fully reprocess the spent fuel rods churned out from the pilot atomic power plant as its part.

The hostile forces are seriously mistaken if they thought they could bring the DPRK to its knees by force.

It is the basic purport of independence, Songun of the DPRK that it can never repeat the disgraceful history a century ago when the whole of Korea was conquered by the Japanese imperialists in the long run, after being violated and cajoled by big powers around it as it was weak in its national power.

The DPRK will defend the peace and security on the Korean Peninsula with might of Songun in a responsible manner though the six-party talks cease to exist and the process of denuclearization collapses due to the hostile forces.”

The UNSC not only denounced and condemned the DPRK’s satellite launch but also on April 24, 2009, in accordance with its “Presidential Statement” which has no binding force, officially designated three companies of the DPRK as targets of sanctions and many kinds of military supplies and materials as embargo items, and thus it has set out in directly infringement of the security of the country and the nation, the supreme interests of the DPRK.

The hostile forces are foolishly scheming to suffocate the DPRK’s defence industry by physical methods as they failed to attain their aims for disarming the DPRK through the six-way talks.

In the 1990s the DPRK already declared that any anti-DPRK sanctions to be put by the United Nations, a legal party to the Korean Armistice Agreement would be regarded as a termination of the agreement, that is, a declaration of war.

The desire for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula has gone forever with the six-way talks and the situation is inching to the brink of war by the hostile forces.

The DPRK Ministry of Foreign Affairs solemnly gave the following warnings on April 29, 2009 to cope with such grave situation.

“The UNSC should promptly make an apology for having infringed the sovereignty of the DPRK and withdraw all its unreasonable and discriminative ‘resolution’ and decisions adopted against the DPRK.

This is the only way for it to regain confidence of the UN member nations and fulfill its responsibility for maintaining international peace and security, not serving as a tool for the U.S. highhanded and arbitrary practices any longer.

In case the UNSC does not make an immediate apology, such actions will be taken as:

Firstly, the DPRK will be compelled to take additional self-defensive measures in order to defend its supreme interests.

The measures will include nuclear tests and test-firings of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Secondly, the DPRK will make a decision to build a light water reactor power plant and start the technological development for ensuring self-production of nuclear fuel as its first process without delay.”

That the hostile forces tabled and discussed the DPRK’s launch of peaceful satellite to the UNSC unprecedentedly is the overreaction itself. The enforcement of sanction with according to the UNSC “presidential statement”, which has no binding force, is infringement of sovereignty of the DPRK and the flagrant violation of the international law.

We only respond to it.

The DPRK has been waiting for the apology of the UNSC with patience for more than a month but no result at all. In such a condition, the DPRK has no other choice but to move as it declared by the statement of spokesman for the Foreign Ministry on April 29, 2009.

Therefore, all the anti-war and peace-loving forces of the world would be better to stand on justice and not to cooperate with the hostile forces which terribly violated the independence of the sovereign state while lodging a complaint against victim.

Stephen Gowans: Turning the threatened into the aggressor: Media distortions in coverage of north Korea’s nuclear test

Colin Powell said we would…turn north Korea into a ‘charcoal briquette,’ I mean that’s the way we talk to north Korea, even though the mainstream meda doesn’t pay attention to that kind of talk. A charocal briquette. (1)

By Stephen Gowans

The following South Korean government statement appeared in the New York Times on May 28, 2009.

“If North Korea stages a provocation, we will respond resolutely. We advise our people to trust our military’s solid readiness and feel safe.”

Inclined to depict south Korea as provocative and belligerent, a headline writer may have written the following to introduce the story:

“South Korea threatens military strikes on North.”

Instead, The New York Times introduced the story this way:

“North Korea threatens military strikes on South.”

In covering north Korea’s latest nuclear test and missile launches, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and other the Western media have presented a set of facts, without necessary context. Through critical omissions, north Korea has been portrayed as “provocative and belligerent,” following the official US account offered by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In this, as always, the US media have operated as an extension of the US state. That the US media mimic, amplify and justify official US foreign policy positions is an inevitable consequence of the interlocks between the mass media, business and government.

Rather than being provocative, belligerent, irrational and unpredictable, north Korea’s recent behavior has been, on the contrary, defensive, rational and completely predictable. It is not north Korea that has provoked and threatened war; it is the United States, and its client regimes in south Korea and Japan that have played the role of Mars. North Korea’s reactions, are sane, defensive and exactly what would be expected of a country that prizes its fiercely won independence and has no intention of surrendering it to international bullying.

The provocations and belligerence of the US and its allies are to be found in their rejection of north Korea’s overtures of peaceful coexistence. Where north Korea has sought to normalize relations with its neighbors and the West, the US and its allies have talked of getting tough and punishing north Korea for its “bad behavior.”

South Korean president Lee Myung-bak reversed the previous government’s policy of rapprochement. Rather than providing aid and collaborating on economic projects, Lee has emphasized a get-tough policy to bring north Korea to heel. From Pyongyang’s perspective, south Korea has “opted for confrontation” and denied “national reconciliation and cooperation.”

And all had seemed to be going well. North Korea had agreed to disable its nuclear facilities, provide a complete declaration of its nuclear programs, and reaffirm its commitment not to transfer nuclear materials, technology, and know-how.

Talks ground to a halt when the US, south Korea, Russia, China and Japan, either failed to honor their side of the bargain, or renounced it altogether. Japan opted out, refusing to deal with north Korea until it came clean on the kidnapping of Japanese citizens. While north Korea acknowledged the crime, Japan insisted all had not been disclosed. This galled the north Koreans, who bristled over Japan making a cause celebre out of the kidnapping of Japanese citizens whose numbers represent an infinitesimal fraction of the number of Koreans who had been transported against their will to Japan as laborers and “comfort women” over the course of a 35 year Japanese colonization of Korea. Whether the Japanese are taking a genuinely principled stand, or merely feigning principled outrage, it is clear Tokyo has placed the kidnapping issue far ahead of normalizing relations. As Korea specialist Bruce Cumings points out, “The Japanese seem to think eight people are more important than finding a solution to north Korea’s atomic bomb.” (2) For Japan, which had dominated, exploited and oppressed Korea, confrontation, not conciliation, is the main point of departure of its DPRK policy.

By July of last year, north Korea had dismantled 80 percent of its nuclear facilities. Pyongyang was keen to complete its end of the bargain. Doing so would relax its decades-long US imposed isolation. The country stands to benefit enormously from normalization of relations and north Koreans were eager to facilitate the process. The necessity of maintaining a permanent war footing to guard against the potential aggression of the United States (which had threatened to turn the country into a charcoal briquette) has meant severe distortions in north Korean society. A sizeable chunk of the country’s limited resources has had to be plowed into the military, denying the country resources for much needed productive investments. US sanctions block north Korean exports and limit access to credit and foreign investment, further stifling north Korea’s economic development. If north Korea’s economy is in trouble – and it is – it’s not so as a consequence of central planning and public ownership (a canard long favored by anti-Communists), but largely because it has been strangled economically by a hostile United States and forced to squander resources on military preparedness. Pyongyang has beseeched Washington repeatedly to formally end the Korean War and sign a lasting peace agreement, only to be rebuffed on every occasion. Talks held out hope – though slim — that north Korea would finally secure some measure of relief from US harassment.

By July of last year only 40 percent of the energy shipments promised by the US and other parties to the talks – intended to compensate for the loss of energy from closing the Yongbyon reactor — had been delivered. Disturbingly, this appeared to portend a repeat of the Clinton administration policy, worked out in connection with an earlier deal, of endless delay, counting on sanctions and embargoes to bring down the government in Pyongyang before US commitments had to be honored. The Clinton administration had promised north Korea fuel oil shipments and light-water reactors in return for Pyongyang shuttering its Yongbyon facilities. North Korea had used the reactor to produce fuel for a nuclear weapon, but only after the US announced it was re-targeting its strategic nuclear weapons on north Korea following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Since north Korea had been flattened, literally, by the US Air Force during the Korean War, the north Koreans had reason not to take the threat lightly. Developing nuclear weapons seemed to be the best way to bring about a stalemate and preserve north Korea’s hard-won sovereignty.

On top of falling behind on fuel shipments, the Bush administration refused to honor its promise to remove the DPRK from its Trading with the Enemy Act. Bush assured anti-DPRK conservatives that despite the deal with north Korea a wide array of US sanctions would remain in place for a long time. Normalization was not in the cards.

Washington justified its failure to meet its obligations by adding a new demand, and then announcing it couldn’t move forward until Pyongyang complied with the new conditions. The conditions, however, were never talked about by US officials as if they were new; instead, Washington acted as if north Korea had agreed to them all along, and that it was Pyongyang, not Washington, that was reneging. Now, in addition to making a full declaration of its nuclear program, north Korea was expected to submit to a verification protocol that would allow US inspectors to go anywhere they wanted in north Korea, sizing up military installations and nosing about defensive positions. Pyongyang countered by demanding unfettered access to south Korea, to verify that the US no longer stored tactical nuclear weapons on Korean soil. Washington insists it doesn’t, but Pyongyang remains sceptical. The US refused, so the DPRK called an end to the talks, having no intention of sacrificing national security. By this point, the US, south Korea and Japan had made clear they had no real commitment to normalization. The talks were simply a way of luring north Korea down a path of surrendering the one thing that kept it from the fate of Ba’athist Iraq – its weapons of mass destruction.

Months later, north Korea would launch a satellite on top of a rocket. Inasmuch as this represented a step forward in the development of a rocket technology that could be used to launch a nuclear warhead, the US persuaded members of the UN Security Council to censure the DPRK. Pyongyang pointed out that it was perfectly within its rights to launch a satellite, and that whatever punitive measures were taken were unjustifiable.

North Korea has never taken military action outside the Korean peninsula. The danger of rocket and nuclear technology in north Korean hands is not one of aggressive war but of north Korea being able to defend itself against the US and Japan, countries with long and bloody histories of waging wars of aggression, on the Korean peninsula and elsewhere. As Bruce Cumings explains,

“The context, going back to the Korean War, for north Korea is that we have targetted north Korea with nuclear weapons since 1950. We are the only power to put nculear weapons into the Korean Peninsula from 1958 to ‘91. And when you look back at Don Rumsfeld’s antics in 2003, when he throught we had won the Iraq war around May or June of 2003, he was asking Congress for new bunker-buster nuclear weapons to go after Kim Jong-Il and the north Korean leadership.” (3)

North Korea’s development of nuclear and rocket technology creates two dangers for Washington and Tokyo: the danger of self-defense against Powell, Rumsfeld and their successors; and the danger of becoming an example to others if it can develop economically outside the strictures of capitalism and imperialism.

Reading about north Korea’s nuclear test in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and other Western media, I have been struck by the similarities in coverage. What one newspaper says is pretty much what every other says, as if reporters read each others’ copy and simply repeat what the others have written. There are benefits to doing this. How can you be taken to task over what you’ve written, if what you’ve written agrees with what everyone else says? Of course, there has to be a starting point. The ideas that journalists swap and pass around and mimic have to come from somewhere. But where? The US State Department and the Council on Foreign Relations are two places journalists look for guidance on foreign policy matters. What officials of these two bodies say are regularly echoed in major media, and in train, by opinion leaders, including university professors. Jeremy Paltiel (4), a professor of political science at a university in the city in which I live, offers a serviceable summary of the ideas journalists have been bandying about on north Korea’s latest nuclear test. Let’s look at them.

Paltiel characterizes north Korea’s underground detonation as a “clear provocation” which tests “the resolve of the international community,” without saying how the detonation is a provocation or what he means by the international community. The world has tested 2,054 nuclear devices, only two of which were north Korean, and most of which belonged to the great powers – the countries which make up the permanent membership of the UN Security Council. These are the countries Paltiel implicitly refers to when he speaks of the “international community.” So, countries of the nuclear club are upset that another country has challenged their cozy monopoly.

“The stakes are high,” writes Paltiel, “not just because Pyongyang’s provocations undermine security in northeast Asia, but also because a crucial issue facing the United States is nuclear proliferation to Iran.” We might ask whose security in northeast Asia is being threatened, and how? The United States has targeted strategic nuclear weapons on north Korea – and did so before north Korea had a nuclear weapons capability. Indeed, it is because it has been targeted, that north Korea acquired a nuclear weapons capability in the first place, as a deterrent. The reality of US missiles trained on north Korea surely threatens north Korea’s security, but Paltiel doesn’t label this a provocation. Somehow, north Korea, with a rudimentary nuclear weapons capability, is provocative, while the United States, with hundreds of nuclear weapons aimed at north Korea, 27,000 US troops on Korean soil and 40,000 in nearby Japan, is not. No one with an unprejudiced mind seriously believes that north Korea is an offensive threat to anyone. With south Korea and Japan under a US nuclear umbrella, the first strike use of a nuclear weapon by north Korea against its neighbours would guarantee its immediate annihilation. This truth is not lost on north Korea’s leadership.

As for nuclear proliferation to Iran, it’s not clear whether Paltiel is referring to Iran’s building of a civilian nuclear power industry, in which case it is incumbent on him to explain why Iran, a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, should be uniquely denied the benefits of nuclear power or forced to depend on the great powers for access to nuclear fuel (access they could turn on or off to extort Iranian concessions.) If he is treating as fact the unsubstantiated allegation that Iran has a secret nuclear weapons program, then he has ventured into the field of political fiction. Even the US intelligence community says Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapons program. But if Iran did, could it be blamed for seeking a means to deter the frequent threats of war directed its way by Israel and the United States? Some will say, but these are threats of preventive attack, responses to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s threat to wipe Israel off the map. The problem is, this is a deliberate misinterpretation of what Ahmadinejad said. What he said was that Israel qua Zionist state would eventually disappear, in the same way South Africa qua apartheid state disappeared. There was no implication in Ahmadinejad’s words of nuclear attack, war or physical destruction. Besides, the US threatened an attack on Iran before Ahmadinejad uttered his misconstrued remarks, when the Bush administration listed Iran as a member of the “axis of evil,” and then attacked the first country on the list, Iraq. It’s not Ahmadinejad that invites Washington’s hostility to Iran.

Paltiel carries on in this vein, arguing that it is a short hop, skimp and jump from north Korea being allowed to keep its nuclear weapons to the destruction of Israel. “Should [n]orth Korea acquire the status of nuclear-weapons state, any effort to prevent the nuclearization of Iran would lose validity,” he writes. It’s news to me that this effort had any validity to begin with. He continues: “And the prospect of a nuclear Iran would unravel U.S. Middle East policy, threatening the survival of Israel as well as the security of Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf oil-exporting states.” All of this is very vague. It’s not clear how a nuclear Iran would unravel US Middle East policy, or how an unravelling US Middle East policy would lead to the destruction of Israel, unless Paltiel is suggesting that without US support, Israel qua colonial settler state, is dead. If so, this could hardly be something to dread; since it would represent the defeat of a racist ideology, it should, on the contrary, be welcomed as a gain for humanity.

Paltiel’s next step is to explain why north Korea detonated a nuclear device. His argument has been repeated in all major media, or, to put it another way, Paltiel repeats an argument all major media have made. That is that north Korea’s acquisition of a nuclear-weapons capability has nothing to do with the US’s, south Korea’s and Japan’s confrontational stance; nothing to do with the great powers stepping up sanctions on north Korea over the DPRK exercising its right to launch a satellite; nothing to do with US strategic nuclear weapons being targeted on north Korea; nothing to do with the provocative war games exercises the US and south Korea recently held on north Korea’s borders; nothing to do with the tens of thousands of US troops stationed nearby; nothing to do with the need to deter the US, a country which has demonstrated repeatedly that it is prepared to launch aggressive wars, and once did in Korea; in fact, none of these things Paltiel mentions, though they’re surely all highly relevant. Instead, Paltiel attributes north Korea’s acquisition of nuclear weapons to “the Kim family dynasty’s determination to secure its survival.” If ever there was a violation of Occam’s Razor, this is it. How does the acquisition of nuclear weapons secure the Kim family’s survival? I’m sure Paltiel could weave an elaborate tapestry of arguments to explain the connection between the DPRK’s nuclear test and the Kim family’s leadership aspirations, but why do so when a simple, compelling, explanation of why north Korea tested a nuclear device is close at hand? The reason why is because attribution of north Korea’s development of a nuclear deterrent to the personal qualities of its leadership, rather than to situational factors, deflects attention from the real reasons for north Korea’s behavior. This sets the stage to mobilize public opinion for action to “liberate” north Koreans from Kim’s “power-hungry” and “reckless rule.”

That Paltiel is about five steps removed from reality becomes plain when he frets about “US President Barack Obama’s dream of a nuclear-weapons-free future” evaporating “into a mushroom cloud.” Earth to Paltiel. Obama may dream of a nuclear-weapons-free future, but the chances of the US leading the way by relinquishing or even seriously reducing its nuclear arsenal are about as good as the chances of Kim Jong Il playing opposite Jennifer Aniston in a romantic comedy. Were Obama truly interested in a nuclear-weapons-free future, he would reverse his country’s targeting of non-nuclear states – the very reason for nuclear proliferation to north Korea – while renouncing the United States’ addiction to conquering weaker countries. If he did these things, the necessity for threatened countries of acquiring a nuclear weapons capability to protect themselves against US aggression would be eliminated. That’s the route to a nuclear-weapons-free future.

Paltiel’s article was written before south Korea announced it would join the Proliferation Security Initiative, a US-led program to intercept north Korean ships on the high seas, to inspect their cargo for so called contraband goods, the rockets north Korea sells to other countries to earn much needed foreign currency. Pyongyang pointed out correctly that this amounted to a declaration of war, since interfering with another country’s shipping is an act of war. Commit an act of war against us, warned the north Koreans reasonably, and we’ll retaliate. Paltiel, we can be assured, would have joined in the clamor that met north Korea’s warning, by characterizing the warning as a belligernet and provocative act against south Korea. The accustomed practice in journalistic circles has been to declare that north Korea threatened to attack the south, the journalists only later acknowledging that the DPRK did so only after the south threatened to commit an act of war against the north. Indeed, south Korea threatened north Korea, which then threatened to retaliate. Belligerent and provocative or self-defensive?

None of this is clear from the stories carried in Western newspapers, because these stories critically omit context and surrounding events. The facts are correct, but they’re organized within a framework that defines north Korea as provocative and belligerent. It is the purest political fiction, in which black becomes white, night becomes day, and self-defense becomes provocation. “If you’re not careful,” warned Malcolm X, “the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing”…and believing the aggressors are the threatened.

1. Bruce Cumings, “Latest North Korean provocations stem from missed US opportunities for demilitarizaton,” Democracy Now!, May 29, 2009.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. Jeremy Paltiel, “Chimerica must rise to Kim Jong Il’s challenge,” The Globe and Mail (Toronto), May 25, 2009.

CPGB-ML statement on second underground nuclear test in DPRK and other measures strenthening the DPRK’s defensive capabilities

On 25 May 2009, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) successfully conducted its second underground nuclear test, thereby significantly boosting its self-reliant, self-defensive military deterrent power, aimed at securing the independence and sovereignty of the country and the socialist system chosen by the Korean people. Alongside this nuclear test, the revolutionary armed forces, the scientists and technicians of the DPRK have also conducted missile launches and taken other steps to defend the security of the country and the dignity of her people.

The Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) (CPBG-ML) resolutely and fully supports all the just steps taken by the Korean people, under the leadership of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) and Comrade Kim Jong Il, to boost the country’s defences, with a view to coping with the intensified aggressive challenge by the US and Japanese imperialists and their followers and to open the way to a great, prosperous and powerful socialist nation.

Whether or not to conduct nuclear tests or to develop missile technology is a matter pertaining to the sovereignty of the country. In a world where the leading imperialist powers possess massive nuclear arsenals, and where US imperialism has not only threatened but actually sanctioned their use, our party has always held the view that we unconditionally support the right of socialist countries, and other developing countries bullied and threatened by imperialism, to develop and possess nuclear weapons for their own defence.

In the case of the Korean peninsula, we note that the nuclear issue is one that is entirely of the making of the United States. The US imperialists planned and threatened to use nuclear weapons in their barbarous war against the Korean people, 1950-53. The only reason they were not used, as they were against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, is that the Soviet Union had by then succeeded in developing such weapons of its own.

Right from the 1950s, in defiance of the Armistice Agreement it signed, the United States has stationed hundreds of nuclear weapons in south Korea, posing a mortal threat to the entire Korean people as well as to the People’s Republic of China, the former Soviet Union/Russian Federation, and all the anti-imperialist forces of the Asia-Pacific region. The United States has threatened to use nuclear weapons against the DPRK on numerous occasions and to this day keeps the DPRK on its ‘nuclear first strike’ list.

Such being the case, the CPGB-ML has consistently held the view that the DPRK has not merely the right to develop its own nuclear weapons but is also faced with the necessity of so doing. As even Madeline Albright, former US Secretary of State, has pointed out, the blunt truth shown by a comparison of the Iraqi and Korean situations is that you are attacked if you do not possess such weapons and you are not attacked if you do.

The CPGB-ML, therefore, takes this opportunity to warmly congratulate Comrade Kim Jong Il, the Workers’ Party of Korea, the Korean People’s Army, the scientists, technicians, workers and service personnel, and the entire Korean people on the success of their second nuclear test.

It is the height of hypocrisy for Gordon Brown to describe the DPRK as a “danger to the world”, when British troops are marauding in Afghanistan, Iraq, Ireland, the Balkans and elsewhere, and when his government still insists on raiding its bankrupt treasury to spend billions on renewing the Trident nuclear missile programme.

The Obama administration, belying its own promises of change and dialogue, has refused to seize the opportunity to turn a fresh page in the United States’ relations with the Korean people, instead falling back on the old, tried and failed methods of provocation, threat and pressure. By so doing, it made the DPRK’s firm response inevitable.

The acts which the imperialist media denounce as showing DPRK aggression are in fact the only possible method that can be used in the present circumstances to deter imperialist aggression and promote peace on the Korean peninsula. Everybody who loves peace must applaud the DPRK’s courageous, intelligent and unflinching stand in the defence of peace. Despite the roars of frustrated rage emerging from all the world giants of imperialism who are bent on destroying socialism root and branch even in such a small country as the DPRK, the DPRK keeps alight the flame of socialism and peace that leads the working people of the world forward to a bright future.