While we Americadoes still absorb the impact of the recent elections, (looks like NJ Governor Phil Murphy squeaked out a win so that’s nice) it’s important to look abroad to other things happening, if for no other reason than our media’s insufferable doom reporting and breathless framing of the fascists as underdogs. Whatever. There are other things happening.
On the Korean peninsula, as President Moon Jae-In’s term nears its end he has begun a push to to formally end the war with North Korea (something he has always been in support of). Recall that the Korean War was never technically ended, The Korean Armistice Agreement was signed at the end of active conflict, but no treaty has ever been signed. North Korea has been pressuring the South periodically to ease sanctions through a combination of diplomacy and renewed shows of force like weapons launches and a build-up of its nuclear deterrence. The hope is that a formal end to the war will encourage North Korea to give up its nuclear arsenal. For its part, the US is open to restart dialogue on the grounds of humanitarian concerns for the people in the North. It would, however, continue to enforce sanctions made by UN security council and advocate for human rights in the country.
Attempts to reconcile both the two sides have seen a multi-pronged approach, not only with the United States and Japan weighing in, but also the Holy See. President Moon has also formally asked Pope Francis to visit North Korea and build a “momentum for peace”. His Holiness has repeatedly expressed his willingness to do so. He has called the two Koreas, “two brothers who speak the same language”. But everything’s up to North Korea. It’s them who will make the final determination.
It’s important to note that these multiparty, multi-faceted attempts at engagement are more of the norm for engaging the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It exists in a stark contrast to the US’ more recent attempts at engagement in that they are not exercises in self-aggrandizement that ultimately only exist to promote propaganda for two egomaniacal dictators.
Meanwhile, the EU has expressed solidarity with Taiwan. In its first delegation to Taipei, the EU MP Raphael Glucksmann told Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen “You are not alone. Europe is standing with you.” This comes as PRC President Xi Jiping has made bolder declarations about bringing Taiwan back within China’s orbit and is in the shadow of Beijing’s actions in the previously democratic Hong Kong. The EU is actively seeking deeper ties with the island and the visit will consist of discussion on foreign interference in elections, cyberattacks, and disinformation. I do not think that this is a coincidence.
It’s an important step for Taiwan, which has few official international partnerships due to threats of retaliation from Beijing.
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