CPEC seminar

I came along as a guest of my student friend to a January 20 panel discussion at Senate House on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, hosted by The Democracy Forum with the support of King’s College London. It was a most informative experience. The speakers were extremely erudite and very lively, even humorous at times – not something I normally associate with seminars on economic or political issues! Best of all, they were not afraid to stir up a bit of controversy.
The event could not have been more timely and covered so much ground in a lot of depth, and the question-and-answer sessions gave plenty of scope for audience members to interact with the panel. Keep up the good work, Democracy Forum, in bringing together such a group of people. May I suggest a future seminar on multiculturalism and the migrant crisis?

Roisin McNulty
London

North Korean scare

Interesting piece by David Watts on North Korea’s nuke testing (‘Fall-out from Pyongyang’s nuclear venture’), and I agree that the West might be underestimating ‘tin pot dictator’ Kim Jong-un, especially after this latest long-range rocket launch.
As for Japan and America planning a closer partnership, it makes sense. Japan has hardly any leverage over North Korea bilaterally, because its economic links with NK are already negligible. What’s the point of more sanctions? And Japan has no real political channels with Pyongyang since the Social Democratic Party now has barely any influence.
Like the South Korean leadership, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe is quite rightly fuming at the latest nuclear test, be it A-bomb or H-bomb, and preparing a possible response. After all, the whole region, and maybe the world, is at risk under Kim Jong-un, who may be bonkers but is not trifling.
Let’s face it, North Korea has become more provocative and dangerous under this leader and this latest venture is another reminder of Japan’s precarious position vis-à-vis its own security. It’s a scary scenario, but hopefully some good will come of it: it might persuade other political leaders who have a go at Shinzo Abe for being ‘militaristic’ and ‘war-mongering’ to cut him some slack. He is only trying to boost his country’s national defences, as every country must, in a realistic, constructive way and the recent change to Article 9 of the constitution reflects this need.

Ted Bryden
Newcastle-under-Lyme

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