Happy Chinese New Year 2019!

All of at RG 21 would like to wish our friends, subscribers and supporters a very Happy Chinese New Year 2019: Gong Xi Fa Cai.

We wish all of you health, happiness, and prosperityThis year promises to be a challenging and interesting year full of world-class events, breaking news and technological changes.

Stay with RG21 and we will bring you articles filled with the topics that are shaping our world

 

Photo: IQRemix via flickr

Person to Watch in 2020: Beto O’Rourke From Texas

                                   by David Parmer / Tokyo

Time flies, it is 2019, and the US is gearing up for another presidential election. Hard to believe, but the election cycle is about to start all over again. The big question is which Democrat will oppose Donald Trump in 2020 (If he chooses to run).

Early reports suggest a wide Democratic field including senators like Bernie Sanders , Elizabeth Warren, Kamela Harris, and Corey Booker. Former Vice President Joe Biden may also put his hat in the ring. There are also “outsiders” like former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and TV personality Oprah Winfrey who might run.

One name that has risen to the top of that list, seemingly from nowhere is former 3-term congressman Beto O’Rourke from Texas. O’Rourke just lost an election, but instead of being branded a “loser” he has been propelled to national attention. In 2018 he gained 48% of the vote vs. 51% of the vote by his opponent Senator Ted Cruz. The close race itself is interesting, but what is compelling is the fact that Beto O’Rourke did this in a so-called “red” state where Democrats haven’t won for decades. The 2018 Texas campaign featured Beto’s amazing ability to collect campaign funds and his truly skillful use of social media.

Former congressman O’Rourke was born in El Paso Texas in 1972. After a standard public school education he earned a BA in English from Columbia University. After several private-sector jobs including a stint in the music business and  in local publishing he started his public service career as a member of the El Paso City Council where he dealt with local development issues. From 2013-2019 he was a member of the US House of Representatives, resigning in 2018 to run for the senate.

When asked about running for president he said he would not. But a politician’s “no” today can become a “maybe ” tomorrow and “yes” the day after tomorrow. O’Rourke has been described as a “white Obama.” Some on the left of the Democratic Party see this as a negative. They distain his Clinton-Obama centrism. His voting record in congress shows a pragmatist at work, and not a doctrinaire liberal or progressive.

Beto O’Rourke is young, charismatic, telegenic, and available. It is very possible that on the day after tomorrow he will decide to give it a try in 2020. Who know? Best to keep an eye on him.

Photo: Wikipedia

Kim Jong Un Addresses Nation and World on Jan. 1, 2019

                    by David Parmer / Tokyo

On January 1, 2019 the Supreme Leader of the DPRK, Kim Jong Un, sat down to deliver his annual address to the people of North Korea, and by extension to the world. Mr. Kim outlined the various achievements of his government during 2018, noting the 70th anniversary of the country, and then mentioning various sectors of the economy including steel, coal and munitions. He praised the efforts of the agriculture sector that had to deal with severe weather conditions during the year. He even mentioned the areas of art and culture and their work in supporting the idea of juche, or self-reliance.

Following this, like any good manager, Mr. Kim set out targets for 2019 in government and industry. He called for a better life for the people of the DPRK and stressed the need for defense.

He then turned to inter-Korean dialogue punctuated by three summit meetings. He called for making even greater strides in this dialogue with expanded relations.

Finally, Mr. Kim talked about the meetings between himself and the US president, Donald Trump and said he is willing to meet Mr. Trump any time. However he cautioned the US that if it did not keep its promises and tried to influence DPRK policy, then his country “we may be compelled to find a new way of defending the sovereignty of the country…” Mr. Kim closed by noting that great progress had been made in 2018, and that great challenges lie ahead.

Mr. Kim’s speech, despite being filled with rhetorical flourishes and jargon, gives us an insight into the state of his country and its economy. The areas to be improved give us a window into life in the DPRK, particularly in the area of basic infrastructure such as electric power generation and distribution. The real take-away seems to be Mr. Kim’s emphasis on the inter-Korean dialogue which he took time to cover, while giving limited attention to US-DPRK relations. Mr. Kim’s strategy seems to be two-pronged; i.e. improving his relations with the South, and at the same time positioning his country on the international stage.

Pasted below is the full text of Mr. Kim’s speech as reported by the Rodong Sinmun. (Reading time: 12 minutes.)

Photo: Rodong Sinmun

__________________________________________________________________

New Year Address by Kim Jong Un  Jan. 1, 2019

Respected Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un made the New Year Address for 2019.

The full text of the New Year Address reads:

Dear people and service personnel of the People’s Army across the country,

Dear compatriots,

Dear comrades and friends,

Having seen out the year 2018, in which we adorned the history of the motherland, the revolution and the nation with meaningful events leaving another indelible imprint in the history, we are seeing in the new year 2019 full of hope.

As we see in the new year, I extend heartfelt greetings to all the people and service personnel who devoted their all for the cause of socialist construction sharing the same mind and pace with our Party in the eventful days of last year, and wish that homes across the country will brim with affection, hope and happiness.

My warm new year greetings go also to the compatriots in the south and abroad, who shared our will in writing a new history of reconciliation, unity, peace and prosperity of the nation.

I wish success in the work of heads of state and other foreign friends who are making efforts for social progress and development and global peace and justice.

Comrades,

The year 2018 was a historic year, in which remarkable changes took place in the internal and external situations and our socialist construction entered a new stage thanks to our Party’s line of independence and strategic decision.

The Third Plenary Meeting of the Seventh Party Central Committee held in April last year constituted an occasion of pivotal significance in developing our revolution onto a new stage and continuing to speed up the advance of socialism on the basis of the great victory of the line of promoting the two fronts simultaneously. Following the road of arduous struggle with faith in certain victory of socialism, our people provided by their own efforts a sure guarantee for defending their sovereignty and achieving peace and prosperity, and became able to set out on a grand revolutionary advance to attain still higher goals for the construction of a prosperous country.

Thanks to our proactive and positive efforts, a peace-oriented current was created on the Korean peninsula and the international prestige of our Republic continued to be raised, and in the midst of this we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the glorious DPRK in splendour with great dignity and self-confidence.

Through the celebratory events held in September, the might of the DPRK, which achieved the ideological oneness of the whole society and the single-hearted unity of the Party and the people and which possesses a reliable self-supporting economy and self-reliant defence capabilities, and the ardent will of the heroic Korean people to fight to the end for the victory of the socialist cause were fully demonstrated in front of the eyes of the world.

Last year all the people further consolidated the foundations of the self-supporting economy by turning out in the struggle for carrying out the Party’s new strategic line of concentrating all efforts on economic construction.

Meaningful and valuable advances were made in the struggle for implementing the line of making the national economy Juche-oriented. The generation capacity of the Pukchang Thermal Power Complex was increased remarkably, the Kim Chaek and Hwanghae iron and steel complexes and other metallurgical works built on their successes in establishing the Juche orientation in production, and dynamic efforts were made to strengthen the independent foundations of the chemical industry. The quality of various vehicles and light-industry products that give us pleasure at sight as they were made by our efforts, technology and resources was raised to a higher level and their mass production was realized, bringing delight to our people.

The working class in the coal-mining industry, in defence of the lifeline of the self-supporting economy, conducted a do-or-die campaign for production when everything was in difficulty, and the agricultural sector waged an unremitting struggle for increased cereal production, thus producing a large number of high-yielding units and farmers even in adverse weather conditions.

The munitions industry, in hearty response to our Party’s militant call for concentrating all efforts on economic construction, produced a variety of farm machinery, construction equipment, cooperative products and consumer goods, thereby giving an impetus to economic development and the improvement of the people’s living standards.

Last year the gigantic construction projects, geared to adding glory to the era of the Workers’ Party according to the Party’s long-term plan and operations, proceeded in a three-dimensional way and on a grand scale. This demonstrated in reality the stout mettle of socialist Korea that never flinches in the face of any adversity but achieves victory after victory by surging forward more forcefully, as well as the inexhaustible potentials of our independent economy.

True to the decision of the April Plenary Meeting of the Party Central Committee on bringing about a revolutionary turn in science and education, the sector of science and technology presented valuable research findings conducive to accelerating the growth of hi-tech industries and revitalizing the national economy; the efforts to make education modern and scientific gained momentum, the teaching conditions and environment being updated at many universities, colleges, middle and primary schools across the country.

The sector of art and culture produced and staged a grand mass gymnastics and artistic performance, evoking positive response from at home and abroad and vividly showing the advanced level of Juche-oriented art and its peculiar features and advantages.

Comrades,

Through the struggle of last year, which added a new page of proud victory to the annals of our revolution, we have been convinced once again of the validity of our own cause and the invincible strength of our state. Thanks to our people’s indomitable fight against the challenge of injustice, our state’s might of self-development has increased on a steady basis and the cause of building a powerful socialist country is progressing at a faster pace.

Availing myself of this opportunity, I should like to extend my heartfelt thanks, once again, to all the people including the service personnel of the People’s Army for advancing non-stop along the road of victory indicated by the Party and thus performing feats that will shine brilliantly in the history of our country.

Comrades,

Having grown seasoned and powerful amid the struggle to glorify the new era of the Juche revolution, our Party and people are launching the new year march full of greater confidence and ambition.

This year we are faced with the task of expanding the country’s capability of independent development to open up bright prospects for taking a step forward towards socialist construction.

We have the strength and foundations to bring forward a brighter future of socialism by our own efforts, and we have also developed our own strategy and creative methods to this end. When we strive hard with an indefatigable spirit on the principle of self-reliance by adhering to the Party’s new strategic line, our country’s strength will redouble and our people’s dreams and ideals will come true.

“Let us open a new road of advance for socialist construction under the uplifted banner of self-reliance!”–this is the slogan we should uphold. We should bring about a revolutionary upsurge on all fronts of socialist construction by regarding self-reliance as a treasured sword for prosperity, a spirit which has always been a banner of struggle and driving force for a leap forward in the whole course of the Korean revolution.

The might of the independent socialist economy should be further strengthened.

We should rely on our own technical forces and resources and the high creative spirit and revolutionary enthusiasm of all the people so as to succeed in attaining the strategic goals of national economic development and enter a new stage of growth.

We should properly plan and thoroughly implement the national operations aimed at maintaining, reinforcing and reenergizing the national economy as a whole.

Strategic measures should be taken to give full play to the potentials of the self-supporting economy and utilize the new elements and driving force for economic development, and the manpower and material resources of the country should be enlisted in economic construction in a cost-effective way. We should focus on the main link in the national economic work, reenergize the other links of its whole chain and promote the long-term development of the economy, so as to push forward its revitalization.

The management method should be innovated to satisfactorily realize the unified guidance of the state over the overall economy and give fullest play to the voluntary enthusiasm and creative abilities of the working people. The Cabinet and other state and economic guidance organs should improve planning, pricing, and monetary and financial management in line with socialist economic law and make sure that economic levers have a positive effect on the revitalization of production and expanded reproduction in enterprises. They should adjust the structures and system of work to raise the efficiency of economic work and to make enterprises smoothly conduct their business activities.

Talented personnel, science and technology are our major strategic resources and weapons with which to bring about a great leap forward in socialist construction.

The state should promote talent training and sci-tech development purposefully and increase its investment in them.

It is necessary to improve the quality of training talented personnel, who will shoulder the socio-economic development, by improving the teaching contents and methods in conformity with the world trend of developing education and pedagogical requirements. We should set a high goal of developing new technologies and concentrate our efforts on the research into core technologies of great practical and economic significance, so as to secure the leading force of economic growth. We should also take institutional measures so that scientific research institutes and enterprises, in close cooperation, can boost production and technological development and enhance intellectual creativity.

Every sector in the national economy should give impetus to hitting the targets of the five-year strategy for national economic development.

We should direct primary efforts to relieving the shortage of electricity to make a breakthrough in revitalizing the national economy.

One of the most important and pressing tasks in socialist economic construction for this year is to radically increase the production of electricity.

By focusing state investment on the electric-power industry to maintain and reinforce its existing foundation and making maximum and effective use of it to renovate and modernize one by one badly needed sectors and projects, we can, for the present, raise power generation to the peak year level.

We should take the problem of easing the strain on electricity as an undertaking of the whole state, step up the construction of hydroelectric power stations including Orangchon and Tanchon power stations and create a capacity for generating tidal, wind and atomic power under a far-reaching plan. Provinces, cities and counties should develop and utilize in an effective way various energy sources available in their local areas.

The coal-mining industry is a primary front in developing the self-supporting economy.

Only when coal is mass-produced can we resolve the problem of electricity and satisfy the demand for fuel and power for different sectors of the national economy including the metallurgical industry.

The coal-mining industry should channel efforts, first and foremost, into supplying coal to thermal power stations so that they can normalize electricity generation without letup.

The whole country should render active ideological and spiritual, material and technical assistance to coal mines, and the state should take stringent steps to provide in a responsible manner facilities and materials needed for coal production and good living conditions for coal miners.

A greater development should be achieved in establishing the Juche orientation in the metallurgical and chemical industries, the two pillars in economic construction.

The metallurgical industry should lower production cost to the minimum by perfecting the scientific and technological aspects of the Juche-oriented iron- and steel-making processes and ensuring their normal operation, and work out and implement an operations plan for providing them with full amounts of iron ore, refractories and ferro-alloys to meet their increased production capacity.

The chemical industry should step up the building of the phosphatic fertilizer factory and the establishment of the C1 chemical industry, develop the glauberite and synthetic fibre industries and convert the existing equipment and technical processes into energy-saving and labour-saving ones. This year a nationwide effort should be made to run the chemical fertilizer factories at full capacity and boost production at the February 8 Vinalon Complex.

Rail and other transport sectors should launch an intensive campaign to strengthen discipline and increase their carriage and traffic capacities to ease the strain on transport. The machine-building industry should upgrade designing and processing techniques to develop and produce a variety of modern machinery and equipment in our own way to suit our actual conditions.

Improving the people’s standard of living radically is a matter of greatest importance for our Party and state.

The agricultural front, the major point of attack in socialist economic construction, should conduct a campaign for increased production.

The Cabinet and other relevant sectors should give effective scientific and technical guidance for each farming process and supply sufficient amounts of materials needed for this year’s farming, thus increasing cereal production decisively. They should respect the opinions and interests of farmers, masters of farming, and meet the demands of the socialist principle of distribution properly.

It is necessary to adhere to the four key factors set forth by the Party for the development of livestock farming, modernize and reenergize stockbreeding bases like chicken farms, and encourage the joint stockbreeding by cooperative farms and the sideline stockbreeding by individual farmers so as to supply the people with more meat and eggs.

The fishing sector should consolidate its material and technical foundations, put fishing and aquatic culture on a scientific basis and protect and increase aquatic resources, so as to open a new path for developing the fishing industry.

The sector of light industry, by consistently upholding the banner of modernizing production lines, obtaining at home everything needed for production and improving quality, should produce and supply various kinds of consumer goods that are favoured by the people, and ensure that provinces, cities and counties renovate the condiments factories and other locally-run plants and maintain their regular operation by relying on the locally available raw materials and other resources.

This year, too, we should push ahead, in a bold manner, with huge construction projects for national prosperity and the people’s wellbeing.

The whole Party, the entire army and all the people should turn out to transform Samjiyon County into a model of modern mountainous city, an ideal socialist village, and complete on the highest possible level the construction projects that would represent the present era, including the Wonsan-Kalma coastal tourist area and other new tourist areas. It is important to steadily improve architectural designing and construction methods, and ensure domestic production and better quality of finishing materials, so as to build all the architectural structures magnificently and in our own style and provide our people with a cultured, happy life. With the national-level construction projects underway on an extensive scale, we should build up the capacity of producing cement and other building materials as planned.

We should make proactive efforts to implement the tasks for the second stage of the forest restoration campaign, improve landscaping, urban management and road administration, and take every precaution against environmental pollution.

All sectors and all units should fulfil their quotas of the national economic plan in all its indices by identifying and enlisting every last reserve, possibility and potential and by increasing production and practising economy.

The politico-ideological strength of our socialist state should be increased in every way possible.

It is necessary to unite the broad sections of the masses solidly around the Party by thoroughly applying the Juche-oriented view on the people, a people-oriented philosophy, in Party and state activities.

Party and government organs and working people’s organizations should give top and absolute priority to the people’s interests whatever they plan and whatever they conduct; they should lend an ear to their sincere opinions, prioritize their wants and anything beneficial to them, and strive to translate them into reality without any conditions attached. Anywhere, anytime and under any circumstances, they should make selfless, devoted efforts for the good of the people, direct primary attention to their livelihood, and ensure that everybody benefits from the politics of affection and trust, the one of embracing and taking care of them all. They should intensify the struggle to eradicate both serious and trivial instances of abuse of power, bureaucratism and corruption, which would wreak havoc on the harmonious whole of the Party and the masses and undermine the socialist system.

However the situation and circumstances may change, Party members and all other working people should cherish the principle of our state first as an element of their faith and step up socialist economic construction in our own way. They should glorify the country’s great history by working with sincere devotion and a patriotic desire for developing their homeland by their own efforts before the eyes of the world, the precious land of socialism which they have defended from generation to generation.

We should accelerate the building of socialist civilization.

A revolutionary habit of studying and a way of cultural and emotional life should be established throughout society, so that all the people possess versatile knowledge and cultural attainments as required by the developing times. The sector of art and literature should create splendid works including films and songs that reflect the times and reality and touch the people’s heartstrings, thus enriching the spiritual and cultural wealth of the nation and giving a powerful impetus to today’s grand revolutionary march.

We should ensure that all the people realize the advantages of the socialist public health system by modernizing pharmaceutical and medical appliance factories, upgrading medical institutions and raising the level of medical service. Mass-based sporting activities should be conducted briskly and specialized sporting techniques developed to ensure that the whole country brims over with vigour and optimism and the sportspeople continue to demonstrate the wisdom and might of Koreans in international competitions.

We should launch a powerful drive to establish a socialist way of life and ennobling moral discipline, thus ensuring that no immoral and uncultured practices that run counter to our people’s emotions and aesthetic view are revealed. By doing so, we can turn the whole society into a large, harmonious family filled with moral excellence and tender feelings.

The national defence capability should be solidified.

The People’s Army should reliably defend the Party and revolution and the security of the country and the people and continuously perform miraculous feats at all sites of socialist construction as in the past by consistently holding fast to the four-point policy for developing it into a powerful army. By doing so, it should demonstrate to the full the might of the revolutionary army, the invincible might of the army of our Party.

The Korean People’s Internal Security Forces, as befitting the red shield of the revolution, should defend unto death our Party, system and people, and the Worker-Peasant Red Guards should effect a turn in strengthening its combat efficiency in this year of its 60th founding anniversary.

Powerful self-defence capacity is a cornerstone of the existence of a state and a guarantee for safeguarding peace.

The munitions industry should, on the one hand, steadily raise the national defence capacity to that of the world’s advanced countries by stepping up the effort for making the defence industry Juche-based and modern, therefore guaranteeing the peace on the Korean peninsula by force of arms, and, on the other, should actively support economic construction.

In order to successfully carry out the militant tasks facing us this year, officials, leading members of the revolution, should make redoubled efforts and struggle with determination and courage.

It is none other than the masses of the people that constitute the motive force and are responsible for carrying out Party policy, and they know actual conditions better than anybody else. Officials should always immerse themselves in the pulsating reality, seeing everything with their own eyes and conducting a comprehensive analysis of how matters stand; they should go deep among the masses, sharing board and lodging with them and motivating them to resolve bottlenecks if any. They should set their ideals and ambitions in keeping with the Party’s plans, and steadily improve their practical abilities and widen their horizon; in this way they should become competent organizers and hands-on workers who make persistent efforts to achieve everything perfectly at the standard demanded by the Party. They should throw themselves into doing any challenging task, burn the midnight oil pondering on how to bring benefit to the country and people, and find the worth of their work in the people’s happy laughter.

Today young people should play a large part in promoting socialist construction.

With the same spirit and mettle which they displayed in recent years to create legendary tales of the new era in response to the Party’s militant appeal, they should honour their title of vanguard at the revolutionary posts where the Party wants them to be. In the present stirring era they should become pioneers of new technology, creators of new culture and pathfinders for a great leap forward; they should make sure that youthful vigour and stamina are overflowing wherever they work.

It is needed to decisively increase the role of Party organizations.

Party organizations at all levels should conduct political and ideological work in a progressive manner in line with the requirements of the times and the developing revolution in order to make our people give full play to the strength of their indomitable spirit on all fronts of socialist construction. They should give a boost to administrative and economic officials so that they can map out plans and provide guidance for implementing Party policy in a responsible way, and fire a zeal for collective innovation and competition in their sectors and units. Provincial, city and county Party committees should wage a powerful struggle to bring about a turn in the development of farming, education and local industries.

Comrades,

Last year was a stirring year which witnessed a dramatic change unprecedented in the history of national division spanning over 70 years.

With a determination to usher in an era of national reconciliation, peace and prosperity by putting an end to the abnormal state on the Korean peninsula which had suffered a constant war crisis, we took proactive and bold measures to effect a great turn in north-south relations from the outset of last year.

It is unprecedented that three rounds of inter-Korean summit meetings and talks were held in a year amid great expectations and interest of peoples at home and abroad, and this clearly showed that north-south relations entered a completely new stage.

The Panmunjom Declaration, the September Pyongyang Joint Declaration and the north-south agreement in the military field, which were adopted by reflecting the firm resolve and will to usher in an era of peace in which war exists no longer on the Korean peninsula, are of great significance as a virtual nonaggression declaration in which north and south have committed themselves to terminating fratricidal war based on force of arms.

While sportspersons of north and south displayed the wisdom and strength of the nation by jointly entering international competitions, artistes came and went to Pyongyang and Seoul to fire the enthusiasm for national reconciliation and reunification.

We took the significant first step towards common prosperity of the nation by promoting cooperation projects in various fields including railways, road, forestry and public health while resolutely overcoming manifold obstacles and difficulties.

The surprising changes which took place in inter-Korean relations last year convinced all the fellow countrymen that when they join minds and efforts, they can turn the Korean peninsula into the true home of the nation, which is the most peaceful and will prosper forever.

Though it was the initial step, north and south pooled intentions and wisdom to surely reverse inter-Korean relations in the utmost extremes of distrust and confrontation to those of trust and reconciliation and make in a short time eye-opening achievements which were unimaginable in the past. I am very satisfied with that.

In the New Year 2019 we should make greater strides in our efforts to boost inter-Korean relations, achieve peace and prosperity and reunify the country on the basis of the priceless achievements we made last year which was wonderfully adorned with unprecedented events.

All the nationals should hold high the slogan “Let us usher in a heyday of peace, prosperity and reunification of the Korean peninsula by thoroughly implementing the historic north-south declarations!”

It is our steadfast will to eradicate military hostility between north and south and make the Korean peninsula a durable and lasting peace zone.

North and south, as they agreed, should take practical measures proactively to remove military hostility on the whole of the Korean peninsula, including the ground, airspace and sea, as a follow-up to its ending in the areas of confrontation.

Given that north and south committed themselves to advancing along the road of peace and prosperity, we maintain that the joint military exercises with foreign forces, which constitute the source of aggravating the situation on the Korean peninsula, should no longer be permitted and the introduction of war equipment including strategic assets from outside should completely be suspended.

It is also needed to actively promote multi-party negotiations for replacing the current ceasefire on the Korean peninsula with a peace mechanism in close contact with the signatories to the armistice agreement so as to lay a lasting and substantial peace-keeping foundation.

All the fellow countrymen should unite as one, being conscious that the master of peace on the peninsula is our nation, in order to wage a powerful struggle to check and frustrate all the moves that wreck peace and incite military tension on this land.

Inter-Korean cooperation and exchanges should be expanded and developed in an all-round way so that national reconciliation and unity can be consolidated and all the fellow countrymen can practically benefit from improved north-south relations.

For the present, we are willing to resume the Kaesong Industrial Park and Mt Kumgang tourism without any precondition and in return for nothing, in consideration of the hard conditions of businesspersons of the south side who had advanced into the Kaesong Industrial Park and the desire of southern compatriots who are eager to visit the nation’s celebrated mountain.

When north and south join hands firmly and rely on the united strength of the fellow countrymen, no external sanctions and pressure, challenges and trials will be able to hinder us in our efforts to open a broad avenue to national prosperity.

We will never tolerate the interference and intervention of outside forces who stand in the way of national reconciliation, unity and reunification with the design to subordinate inter-Korean relations to their tastes and interests.

North and south should not pass up the favourable atmosphere of today when all the nationals’ interest in and aspiration for reunification are growing unprecedentedly, but actively try to find a peaceful reunification plan based on nationwide agreement and direct sincere efforts to this end.

All the fellow countrymen in north, south and abroad should further accelerate in high spirits the nationwide advance for implementing the north-south declarations, and thus glorify this year as a historic one when another radical change is brought about in the development of inter-Korean relations and implementation of the cause of national reunification.

Comrades,

Last year, our Party and the government of our Republic exerted responsible efforts to safeguard the peace and security of the world and expand and strengthen friendship with different countries.

The three rounds of our visit to the People’s Republic of China and the Cuban delegation’s visit to our country were remarkable events in boosting strategic communication and traditional ties of friendship and cooperation among the socialist countries.

Last year, frequent visits and exchanges were made on Party, state and government levels between the DPRK and many countries of the world, with the result that they deepened mutual understanding and confirmed the stand and will to promote sound development of the international community.

The historic, first-ever DPRK-US summit meeting and talks brought about a dramatic turn in the bilateral relationship which was the most hostile on the earth and made a great contribution to ensuring peace and security of the Korean peninsula and the region.

It is the invariable stand of our Party and the government of our Republic and my firm will to establish a new bilateral relationship that meets the demand of the new era as clarified in the June 12 DPRK-US Joint Statement, build a lasting and durable peace regime and advance towards complete denuclearization.

Accordingly, we declared at home and abroad that we would neither make and test nuclear weapons any longer nor use and proliferate them, and we have taken various practical measures.

If the US responds to our proactive, prior efforts with trustworthy measures and corresponding practical actions, bilateral relations will develop wonderfully at a fast pace through the process of taking more definite and epochal measures.

We have no intention to be obsessed with and keep up the unsavoury past relationship between the two countries, but are ready to fix it as early as possible and work to forge a new relationship in line with the aspirations of the two peoples and the requirements of the developing times.

As evidenced by the reality of north-south relations that made rapid progress last year, nothing is impossible to a willing heart, and dialogue partners will reach the destinations that are beneficial to each other without fail if they put forward fair proposals on the principle of recognizing and respecting each other by abandoning their dogged insistence broadmindedly and conduct negotiations with a proper stand and the will to settle issues.

I want to believe that our relations with the United States will bear good fruit this year, as inter-Korean relations have greeted a great turn, by the efforts of the two sides.

I am of the opinion that, while meeting and holding talks beneficial to both sides with the US president in June last year, we exchanged constructive views and reached a consensus of understanding for a shortcut to removing each other’s apprehensions and resolving the entangled problems.

I am ready to meet the US president again anytime, and will make efforts to obtain without fail results which can be welcomed by the international community.

But if the United States does not keep the promise it made in the eyes of the world, and out of miscalculation of our people’s patience, it attempts to unilaterally enforce something upon us and persists in imposing sanctions and pressure against our Republic, we may be compelled to find a new way for defending the sovereignty of the country and the supreme interests of the state and for achieving peace and stability of the Korean peninsula.

The stabilized situation on the Korean peninsula and in the region is never something that has been created with ease, and the countries that are truly desirous of peace have the common responsibility for setting great store by the current situation. The neighbouring countries and international community have to support our sincere stand and efforts for promoting the positive development of the situation on the Korean peninsula and fight against all practices and challenges that wreck peace and run counter to justice.

Our Party and the government of our Republic will continue to bolster up unity and cooperation with the socialist countries and develop relations with all countries that are friendly to us under the ideals of independence, peace and friendship.

Comrades,

We are beginning the journey of the new year as we brace ourselves once again with the resolve to work devotedly for our country, our motherland, and the happier laughter of younger generations.

What we are convinced of once again as we proudly review the past year when we made rapid progress while paving our way by our own efforts with belief in our own strength in the face of harsh economic blockade and sanctions, is the truth that our state is fully capable of dynamically advancing along the road of development of socialism of our own style by dint of our people’s great strength and efforts, without any external assistance or any other’s help.

This year, too, we will face constant obstacles and challenges in our progress, but no one can change our determination and will and stop our vigorous advance and our people will successfully achieve their beautiful ideals and goals without fail.

Let us all work energetically and with one mind and will for the prosperity and development of the genuine people’s country, the socialist motherland.

 

VietJet Aims High.

         by David Parmer / Tokyo         

Well, 2019 has  already started, and exactly what trends, events, and happenings  will emerge is not quite clear yet. However, one trend that is pretty clear is the seemingly unstoppable growth of Vietnam’s Viet Jet Air LCC. Coming out of nowhere in 2011, Vietnam’s first privately owned airline has made nothing but headlines and mostly for the right reasons.

Viet Jet was conceived and realized by its dynamic founder, 47-year-old Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao. Ms. Nguyen, who has a personal fortune estimated at $1.7 billion, was educated in Russia and holds a Ph.D. in Economic Management. After graduation she worked at various projects and was a commodity trader before hitting upon the idea of starting a LCC in her home country.

Her timing was good in the macro sense, as she caught a rising trend not only in her home country but also in South East Asia as a whole. Rising fuel prices grounded her dream for a couple of years, but in 2011 the airline took off.

Ms. Nguyen is only one of two female CEO’s in the world’s top 100 airlines. Her style of management echoes another independent CEO and founder, Virgin Atlantic’s Sir Richard Branson. And like Branson, she is not averse to the “big publicity stunt.” In Viet Jet Air’s case it was having the female cabin crew wear bikini swimsuits on flights to beach destinations. This stunt ran afoul of the conservative government bureaucrats in Hanoi who fined the company, but brought her airline worldwide publicity. ( In an interview Ms. Nguyen said that the crew are not forced to wear bikinis.) Bright colors and pretty young cabin crew seem to be the hallmark of the airline’s brand.

 

A whiff of controversy seems not to have hurt the airline as revenue is now estimated to be between $1.2 billion and $1.8 billion with profit of $ 200,000,000. Viet Jet Air runs 300 flights a day in both in the domestic and international markets. The airline flies to several Asian destinations including:

  • China
  • Japan
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • Taiwan
  • Malaysia

Of particular interest are Viet Jet Air’s routes to second-tier Chinese cities, which, of course, will eventually become first-tier cities to which the airline has locked- in routes.

Ms. Nguyen certainly looks like she has big plans for the airline, that is, if aircraft purchases can be used as a measure of her ambition. It was announced on July 18, 2018 that a deal had been struck with Boeing Commercial Airplanes to purchase 100 B737 MAX aircraft for a price of $12.7 billion. And on November 2, 2018 another deal was signed to buy 50 Airbus A321neo planes for $16.5 billion.

Viet Jet Air is already a local and regional player, and from the above purchases it can be seen that it has real plans and capability to extend its reach globally. The airline’s English slogan is “Enjoy Flying!” It looks like in the future more and more people will be flying this airline and perhaps doing just that: enjoying flying at reasonable prices.

Photos and Graphic: Viet Jet Air website.

 

 

Wishing You A Happy New Year 2019!

Well, another year has passed and soon it will be 2019. All of us at RG21 would like to thank you for following us and for sharing your thoughts with us. We look forward to another year of providing you with the information necessary to make sense of what is happening in our ever-changing world. If you have any requests for next year, please log in and let us know. So from all of us to all of you: Happy New Year 2019!

Photo: Winter at the Summer Palace-3  by Liang Cia via flickr

China’s Remote 3000km-Long Kunlin Mountains.

                         by David Parmer / Tokyo

Sometimes we speak of far-away places as being “at the ends of the Earth.” That is, they are far away from what we consider to be civilization, are hard to get to, sparsely populated and may contain natural beauty in abundance. One place that would surely fill those requirements would be China’s remote Kunlun Mountains.

Stretching from west to east for 3,000 kilometers, they touch the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan in the west and extend eastward to the edge of the North China Plain. The Kunlun Mountains also act as a border between the Tibet Plain and the Tarim Basin, which includes the Taklimakan Desert and Qinghai.

 

The Kunlun Mountains are a majestically beautiful but unforgiving environment; they are both arid and frigid in turns and are known for their extremely high winds. While there is more vegetation at lower altitudes, they are basically rock desert with not much growing there.  

Despite the harsh conditions there is both wildlife and human inhabitants. The mountains are host to the Tibetan Gazelle, Tibetan Goat, wild yaks, Ibex, wolves, and even some brown bear. There are Mongol herders in the Qiadam Basin area who keep horses, sheep, and yak and Tibetan nomads in the Qinghai Lake region. Wildlife was under threat from over-hunting and poaching, but efforts are being made to preserve the ecosystem.

Perhaps because of their inaccessibility, the Kunlun Mountains have played a large part in people’s imagination and mythology. They were first thought to be a Taoist paradise, and King Mu ( 976–­922 BCE) was said to have visited the area and found the Jade Palace of the Yellow Emperor. Legend has it that even the Queen of Sheba eventually ended up among the Kunlun peaks. In modern times the 1933 novel by James Hilton, Lost Horizonhad its mythical city of Shangri-La located in the Kunlun Mountains. There is also a fictional martial arts school called Kunlun Sect that appears in Heaven Sword Dragon Sabreby Jin Yong, and a real martial arts school that still exists called Kunlun Fist.

Physics, philosophy, and common sense tell us that nothing lasts forever, and change is the only constant. This may be true, yet China’s Kunlun Mountains seem to exist in a time frame beyond our everyday understanding and comprehension.

Map: Wikimedia 

Photo: Kunlun Mountains, Yusheng Bai via flickr

Davos 2019 – More Important Than Ever.

The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland is the premier international forum for public-private cooperation. The 2019 meeting to be held from January 22-25 will be no exception. Leaders from all quarters will gather in Davos to not only talk about, but also to create our shared future in an increasingly complex world. Davos 2019 will host around 2500 participants.

Leaders from 100 governments and from 1,000 top companies as well as cultural and societal leaders and Young Global Leaders, Global Shapers and Technology Pioneers will meet in at an open and inclusive forum covered by TV, webcam broadcasts and social media.

The theme for 2019 is titled, “Globalization 4.0 Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The meeting will use the “spirit of Davos” to guide discussions on building a better world for this century and the centuries to follow.

Globalization 4.0 is where technologies will impact every aspect of our lives. Participants will also look at how Globalization 4.0 will affect the Fourth Industrial Revolution. As working tools, several principles will be employed to arrive at workable solutions. These tools include:

  • All-inclusive dialogue
  • Responsive and responsible globalization
  • Improved international cooperation
  • Inclusive and sustainable growth

Several Global Dialogues will also be hosted including:

  • Dialogue on the future of the economy
  • Dialogue on industry systems
  • Dialogue on cyber security
  • Dialogue on human capital
  • Dialogue on geopolitics

These are truly perilous times, and it is important that solutions be found to address not only these problems, but also the challenges of immense and ongoing technological and social change.The Davos 2019 participants have their work cut out for them. Let us hope that they rise to the occasion. Our world depends on it.

Photo: WEF via Twitter

Person of Interest: John Bolton

                            by David Parmer / Tokyo

In selecting John R. Bolton as his third National Security Advisor, it looks like Donald Trump has finally gotten what he both wants and needs: a political soul-mate with a world view so close to his own as to be almost indistinguishable. After going through two military men, Trump has finally found not just a conservative, but his kind of conservative, in Bolton.

Trump’s National Security Advisor is no “yes man” to Trump. He doesn’t have to be. Apparently the only thing that they would disagree on would be Bolton’s moustache, otherwise it seems that, on policy, they could finish each other’s sentences. And if Bolton harbors any resentment about being third choice, he hasn’t shown it.

Bolton has a fine resume; an impressive record of government service and private employment. Since he graduated from Yale University with a BA and JD in 1974, he has been on a slow but steady upward trajectory. His early career saw him hold a couple Assistant Secretary of State Jobs and a couple of Assistant Attorney General jobs. For a brief period in 2005-2006 he was ambassador to the United Nations on a temporary basis, but withdrew before being confirmed by congress. Bolton has also worked in the private sector in a law firm, worked as a commentator on Mr. Trump’s favorite conservative network, FOX, and been involved with the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank.

Mr. Bolton, like his boss, is a unilateralist. For him, like Trump, “America First” is the rallying cry and fundamental proposition of his politics and worldview. Bolton has been a harsh critic of the JCPOA or “Iran Deal” signed by the US, Russia, China, the UK, Germany, France, and the EU. His language echoes Trump’s when he describes it as a monumental bad deal. Bolton is also a strong critic of North Korea, but has dialed back his rhetoric now that Mr. Trump has been engaging with DPRK Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un. Mr. Bolton has also weighed in on Taiwan, suggesting that the US might even station troops there and, in the process, displaying an abysmal lack of understanding of both the PRC’s history and of its resolve regarding Taiwan.

Bolton has threatened sanctions against the International Criminal Court of Justice if any indictments are handed down against US parties, and has threatened Iran as well. On September 26, 2018, TIME magazine quoted Bolton at the United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) summit saying:

“If you cross us, our allies, or our partners; if you harm our

citizens; if you continue to lie, cheat, and deceive, yes, there will

indeed be hell to pay….. “Let my message today be clear: We are

watching, and we will come after you.”

 And to cap off Bolton’s hard line (which is, of course, Trump’s hard line) he has, in effect, reset the tone of America’s Latin America policy by branding Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua a “Troika of Tyranny.” In the speech delivered at Miami Dade Freedom Tower November 1, 2018 he announced sanctions would be used to bring these countries into line with the current administration’s view of proper international behavior.

It is now the end of November 2018, and just over four weeks from now, in January 2019, a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives will be sworn in. Things will surely change, and in times to come, people may look back and consider this period the high-water mark of Trumpism and Trumpian politics. Donald Trump and John Bolton’s worldview of politics and human life will soon be consigned to the trash bin of history–where it belongs.

Photo: Greg Skidmore via flickr

China and Russia Work To Preserve Siberian Tiger.

                                 by David Parmer / Tokyo

These days if you read the papers or watch TV or Internet news it may take you a while to find a positive story or one that looks like it may have a happy ending. This is particularly true with regard to the state of the planet that we all inhabit. So it is indeed encouraging to find that there is a lot of cautious good news about the preservation of the Siberian or Amur tiger population.

The panthera tigrisis found only in the Russian Far East, China and Korea. The species came very close to extinction in the 1940s with the number of animals down to 40. Since WWII tiger numbers have been on the increase, and there are now an estimated 450-500 animals roaming the wild north of Russia, China and Korea.

Russia was first to protect the species in the 1980s, and the plight of the Siberian tiger has come to the attention of Russia’s president Vladimir Putin himself. Protection is important because the animals are threatened by:

  • Poachers
  • Loss of forest land
  • Human trespass
  • Lack of prey
  • Loss of home range

International organizations like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) are working to support efforts to save the Siberian tiger. One such effort is the Sikhote-Alin Biosphere by WCS and the adopt-a-tiger program by the WWF.

Efforts are now being made to:

  • Keep population numbers up
  • Protect tiger ranges
  • Promote increase of tiger prey
  • Encourage legislation to protect the species
  • Educate the public on the various tiger programs
  • Other efforts include stiff penalties for poaching, banning logging, and converting hunters and poachers into forest rangers.

Not only in Russia, but also in China tiger preservation has become a priority. In 2013 President Xi Jinping announced the plan to develop a national park system. The system will be rolled out in 2020. A major piece of this plan is a 15,000 kmpark in the Jilin-Heilongjiang region that will be 60% larger than the US Yellowstone Park and will be home to the Siberian tiger. Much has to be done in the areas slated to become national parks including relocating some residents, finding work for them and putting an end to logging.

While all is not perfect, the Siberian tiger is receiving needed attention from government, the scientific community, and NGOs. In the foreseeable future, Siberian tiger populations may reach to several hundred of these magnificent animals. If you are interested in helping in this program you can contact the organizations listed below.

WWF Amur Tiger: https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/amur-tiger

WCS Siberian Tiger Project: https://russia.wcs.org/en-us/Projects/Siberian-Tiger-Project.aspx

 

 

 

NORDEFCO Sees Cooperation as Key to a Changing Northern Defense Environment.

                             by David Parmer / Tokyo

“ The main aim and purpose of the Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO) is to strengthen the participating nations´national defence, explore common synergies and facilitate efficient common solutions. ” (NORDEFCO website).

While the South China Sea, the overall Indo-Pacific area, and the Persian Gulf draw almost daily media attention, observers of geo-politics would be well advised to keep an eye on the Baltic region and the Nordic countries that border it. The Baltic area lacks the overt tension of the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait but there is now a quiet reshuffle going on in response to the changing local and world situation vis-a-vis an emergent Russia projecting power both locally and globally.

 Of the 5 Nordics, traditionally Sweden and Finland have maintained official neutrality while Denmark and Norway have joined NATO. Starting in 2009 these five countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) formed Nordic Defense Cooperation (NORDEFCO) to foster military and political cooperation in areas such as:

  • Cost sharing
  • Joint solutions
  • Joint actions

NORDEFCO states that it is neither a military alliance nor a command structure. Over the years the organization has had a number of successes, particularly in the area of training. Joint procurement has taken the slow road due to the various political and military considerations of the members. Despte this, joint procurement of a common combat uniform is now underway. For the future the organization is focusing on better communications among members and landing rights for unarmed military aircraft of member countries.

Of great concern to the Nordic countries is Russia’s willingness to exert its military power as seen in the takeover of Crimea and its proxy war in Ukraine. Add to this Russia’s continuing support of the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. It is clear that if Russia has the will, it can project force in a robust and effective manner when it sees its national interest at risk or when it sees such action as supporting its long-term national interest.

Considering this, many observers feel that Sweden and Finland though not NATO members might be now considering full membership in the organization.

A precursor to this, or a sign pointing in that direction might be the hosting and participation in NATO’s biggest military exercise in recent history: Trident Juncture 18.

Scheduled to be held from 25 October to 7 November 2018, Trident Juncture 18 will involve some 50,000 participants from 31 NATO nations and NATO partner countries. Action will take place in central and eastern Norway, but also in Sweden, Finland and Iceland. The exercise can be seen as a NATO response to an “Article 5” situation where a NATO member is attacked and the organization must respond in force and in a timely manner. While no “enemy” is specified for the exercise, it is clear that Russia is seen as the potential aggressor.

The willingness to participate in this exercise by Sweden and Finland and the permission to use their territory for positioning and moving forces can be interpreted as another sign of the changing geo-political climate at the top of the world. It can also be seen that while NORDEFCO is working, the parties concerned are now considering other options for their military and political positions.

Photo: US 7th Army (Danish Soldier) via flickr