Germany and China surpass the USA in global leadership approval

An interesting survey from Gallup, based on interviews and telephone conversations with 1,000 people in each country.

The result: the global approval of US leadership in 2017 dropped to 30%, behind Germany on 41% and China on 31%. Both Germany and China remained at the same level from the previous year, indicating stability.

Some graphs tell the story:

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Notably, Russia and the USA are quite close to one another. Now for the disapproval rating, which for the USA sits at 43%:

In the Americas it has shot up to 58%:

I am most intrigued by the last graph, which indicates how much the approval/disapproval rates have shifted in different parts of the globe:

 

In much of Europe, the Americas, central and southern Africa, south and south-eastern Asia (including Australia in this last group), it has plummeted, while parts of northern Africa, eastern Europe and Russia have seen an increase! Not sure it will make much difference in Russia.

However, the danger of such graphs is to enhance the idea that Trump’s USA is an anomaly, in contrast to the ‘golden age’ of Obama et al. All manner of concerted efforts are underway to generate this impression, whether blaming the Russians for meddling, questioning Trump’s mental stability, or indeed asserting that his election victory was the result of purely racist elements. Instead, Trump is merely a symptom of a much longer trajectory.

 

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DPRK statement on human rights: religion

In completing my chapter on ‘Religion and Revolution in Korea’, I found a great site for downloading recent statements on a range of issues. Volume 9 concerns human rights, which articulates some of the main points from the constitution. Of interest for my current purposes is the following (pp. 54-55):

68. Provision of the Freedom of Thought and Religion

In the DPRK everybody is fully provided with the right to choose and follow their thought and religion according to their own free will.

Through their everyday life and experience and through historical process, the Korean people have realized that the Juche idea is an idea that thoroughly defends and realizes their independence and truly guarantees human rights, and that when they advance along the road indicated by the idea genuine happiness and prosperity will be achieved.

And they have acquired this idea as an element of their faith and will on their own accord.

They follow the Juche idea and think and act as required by it.

In the DPRK the church and the state are clearly separated, and everybody is fully provided with the freedom of religion.

In accordance with the Constitution, people are free to choose and follow any religion, and can officially or personally, privately or jointly hold religious service, ritual and ceremony. They can also build religious structures or conduct religious education.

At present there exist in the DPRK the Korean Christians Federation, Korean Buddhists Federation, the Korean Catholics Association, the Chondoist Association of Korea and Korean Council of Religionists.

Foreigners resident in the DPRK and expatriates are also given complete freedom of religion.

An image for our time: the two Koreas as one

What an image!

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Ri Son Gwon, chair of the DPRK’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland (left), shakes hands with Cho Myoung-gyon, the Unification Minister of the Republic of Korea (right). This was at the meeting today in Panmunjom, in the demilitarised zone between the two Koreas.

And again:

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Amazing start to 2018, sidelining the international players and getting on with their own agenda. The footage of the gathering (found here) is stunning in its simplicity. And I was in this room in 2015 when I visited the DPRK.

It is worth noting that while the corporate media is trying to spin this development as an initiative from the ROK, it was actually Kim Jong Un who got the whole process going with his New Year address. Instead, we have to look to news outlets such as the Global Times to get the story right, use the actual names of the countries and use the correct spelling for names. The same news item indicates the desire of the DPRK to move towards reunification sooner rather than later (see also here).

 

 

 

 

Kim Jong Un’s new year address

This one is a beauty and worthy of note. In his new year address (for Juche year 107), Kim Jong-Un deployed the standard genre of communist speeches. It focuses on achievements in the past year, the international situation, problems that need to be addressed and the workers’ party. The section of most interest to observers is the following:

My New Year greetings go also to the compatriots in the south and abroad who are fighting for the reunification of the country and to the progressive peoples and other friends across the world who opposed war of aggression and gave firm solidarity to our cause of justice

As I have pointed out earlier, reunification has been a consistent policy of the DPRK since 1972, based on the two Koreas achieving reunification without outside interference and a bicameral system. We find these themes in the following section of the speech, with a call for easing tensions, dialogue and mutual celebration of 70 years of the DPRK and the Winter Olympics in the south.

The prevailing situation demands that now the north and the south improve the relations between themselves and take decisive measures for achieving a breakthrough for independent reunification without being obsessed by bygone days. No one can present an honourable appearance in front of the nation if he or she ignores the urgent demands of the times.

This year is significant both for the north and the south as in the north the people will greet the 70th founding anniversary of their Republic as a great, auspicious event and in the south the Winter Olympic Games will take place. In order to not only celebrate these great national events in a splendid manner but also demonstrate the dignity and spirit of the nation at home and abroad, we should improve the frozen inter-Korean relations and glorify this meaningful year as an eventful one noteworthy in the history of the nation.

First of all, we should work together to ease the acute military tension between the north and the south and create a peaceful environment on the Korean peninsula.

As long as this unstable situation, which is neither wartime nor peacetime, persists, the north and the south cannot ensure the success of the scheduled events, nor can they sit face to face to have a sincere discussion over the issue of improving bilateral relations, nor will they advance straight ahead towards the goal of national reunification.

The north and the south should desist from doing anything that might aggravate the situation, and they should make concerted efforts to defuse military tension and create a peaceful environment.

The south Korean authorities should respond positively to our sincere efforts for a detente, instead of inducing the exacerbation of the situation by joining the United States in its reckless moves for a north-targeted nuclear war that threatens the destiny of the entire nation as well as peace and stability on this land. They should discontinue all the nuclear war drills they stage with outside forces, as these drills will engulf this land in flames and lead to bloodshed on our sacred territory. They should also refrain from any acts of bringing in nuclear armaments and aggressive forces from the United States.

Even though the United States is wielding the nuclear stick and going wild for another war, it will not dare to invade us because we currently have a powerful nuclear deterrent. And when the north and the south are determined, they can surely prevent the outbreak of war and ease tension on the Korean peninsula.

A climate favourable for national reconciliation and reunification should be established.

The improvement of inter-Korean relations is a pressing matter of concern not only to the authorities but to all other Koreans, and it is a crucial task to be carried out through a concerted effort by the entire nation. The north and the south should promote bilateral contact, travel, cooperation and exchange on a broad scale to remove mutual misunderstanding and distrust, and fulfil their responsibility and role as the motive force of national reunification.

We will open our doors to anyone from south Korea, including the ruling party and opposition parties, organizations and individual personages of all backgrounds, for dialogue, contact and travel, if they sincerely wish national concord and unity.

A definite end should be put to the acts that might offend the other party and incite discord and hostility between fellow countrymen. The south Korean authorities should not try, as the previous conservative “regime” did, to block contact and travel by people of different social strata and suppress the atmosphere for reunification through alliance with the north, under absurd pretexts and by invoking legal and institutional mechanisms; instead, they should direct efforts to creating conditions and environment conducive to national concord and unity.

To improve inter-Korean relations as soon as possible, the authorities of the north and the south should raise the banner of national independence higher than ever before, and fulfil their responsibility and role they have assumed for the times and the nation.

Inter-Korean relations are, to all intents and purposes, an internal matter of our nation, which the north and the south should resolve on their own responsibility. Therefore, they should acquire a steadfast stand and viewpoint that they will resolve all the issues arising in bilateral relations on the principle of By Our Nation Itself.

The south Korean authorities need to know that they will gain nothing from touring foreign countries to solicit their help on the issue of inter-Korean relations, and that such behaviour will give the outside forces, who pursue dishonest objectives, an excuse for their interference and complicate matters further. Now it is not time for the north and the south to turn their backs on each other and merely express their respective standpoints; it is time that they sit face to face with a view to holding sincere discussions over the issue of improving inter-Korean relations by our nation itself and seek a way out for its settlement in a bold manner.

As for the Winter Olympic Games to be held soon in south Korea, it will serve as a good occasion for demonstrating our nation’s prestige and we earnestly wish the Olympic Games a success. From this point of view we are willing to dispatch our delegation and adopt other necessary measures; with regard to this matter, the authorities of the north and the south may meet together soon. Since we are compatriots of the same blood as south Koreans, it is natural for us to share their pleasure over the auspicious event and help them.

We will, in the future, too, resolve all issues by the efforts of our nation itself under the unfurled banner of national independence and frustrate the schemes by anti-reunification forces within and without on the strength of national unity, thereby opening up a new history of national reunification.

Availing myself of this opportunity, I extend warm New Year greetings once again to all Korean compatriots at home and abroad, and I sincerely wish that in this significant year everything would go well both in the north and in the south.

How much is a DPRK ‘defector’ paid by South Korea and the USA?

In March, 2017, the South Korean ‘Ministry of Unification’ announced that it would increased the amount of ‘reward’ for a ‘defector’ from the DPRK. This is for ‘people who provide intelligence and knowledge that can enhance South Korea’s security’. The amount: they can be given up to one billion won, or USD $860,000, as well as allowances and living costs.

You can imagine how reliable such information would be.

In fact, the business of relying on émigré ‘testimony’ is in full swing, with book after book outlining unverified ‘accounts’ of the gruesome life in the north. This is about as reliable as the ‘testimony’ from the former Soviet Union, which has been castigated by historians as utterly unreliable.