The World Today for September 27, 2016


China’s Problem to Solve

At the first head-to-head presidential debate on Monday night, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said China should be solving the “problem” of North Korea.

The Donald said a lot last night. But, at least on this issue, he’s got a point.

As the candidates spoke before a television audience of millions, the United States Department of Justice was indicting a prominent Chinese businesswoman and Communist Party member named Ma Xiaohong for helping North Korean companies evade American sanctions on materials for the Hermit Kingdom’s nuclear weapons program, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The legal move came around two weeks after North Korea conducted its biggest nuclear test ever, and a week after President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met in New York to discuss cooperating to curb North Korea’s nuclear threat, Reuters said.

But the news agency also noted in an analysis that China was “in a bind” over North Korea.

China has a lot of influence over Pyongyang, and Chinese leaders don’t want North Korea to possess a nuclear weapon.

But Beijing also doesn’t want to ratchet up the economic pressure and cause the country to collapse, as that could lead to a refugee crisis on its border and a potential political and military crisis involving South Korea and the US. It certainly doesn’t want North Korea to disappear and a US-aligned South Korea to step into the vacuum.

“China needs North Korea to counter the United States,” Fudan University Arms Control Professor Shen Dingli told Reuters.

The US is already angering China by placing an anti-missile system in South Korea, according to Reuters’ analysis. But Beijing can hardly complain. The missile system is a rational defense against North Korea’s budding missile program. It also happens to fit nicely with Obama’s so-called “pivot” of American strategic interests to Asia from Europe.

Still, China is engaging North Korea. The Associated Press reported that China is investigating Xiaohong’s company and Kwangson Bank, an affiliate of North Korea’s state-run Foreign Trade Bank that was allegedly cooperating with the Chinese executive. China now has Ma and some of her alleged co-conspirators in custody, the AP said.

In the Conversation, MIT Researcher John Park suggested that China needed to go farther than simply locking up Chinese middlemen who help North Korea break international sanctions. At present, Park claimed, the high cost of evading sanctions has even attracted the best and brightest Chinese operators who know they can score big by helping North Korea.

Whoever next occupies the White House will have to grapple with this policy knot: To solve the North Korean problem, one needs to also address China’s culpability in it. Of course, before Trump or Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton can tackle either issue, they have that little challenge of the election to overcome, too.

Trump and Clinton know one of those challenges will be over in November. The other problems will likely take longer to put to rest.


Jungle Boogie

Shortly after world leaders pledged to accept hundreds of thousands more refugees, France announced it would knock down a makeshift camp known as “the Jungle” where migrants who have already made their way into the country have been living for more than a year.

It’s an illustration of the complex problem presented by the world’s many ongoing wars: Everybody wants to help the desperate in theory but in practice nobody wants them living in their backyard.

French President Francois Hollande said Monday that “The Jungle,” in Calais, will be completely dismantled before the end of the year, reports CNN. Meanwhile, France and the UK are building a 13-foot-high wall to prevent residents from reaching a nearby highway or ferry port to hitch a ride across the English Channel.

Skeptics say dismantling the camp will leave its some 7,000 residents in desperate conditions. France claims it is creating up to 12,000 places in small centers across the country to house them. Similar measures have not been wholly successful in other countries, such as Germany, however.

The Missing

Dozens of Mexican families are still wondering what happened to 43 students who disappeared after a deadly encounter with corrupt police two years ago.

And it looks as though they may have to wait far longer before they receive any convincing answers, reports the BBC.

According to the official account, the students were traveling to a protest in the Mexican town of Iguala, when they were stopped (or ambushed) by police in the employ of one of Mexico’s drug cartels. Six people, including students and bystanders, were killed on the spot, while the other students were taken away and burned at a municipal rubbish dump, Mexico’s attorney general said in 2015.

Two years later, almost nobody believes that story, however – as accusations of torture and a cover-up have forced the head of the country’s Criminal Investigation Agency to resign.

“The Mexican government seeks to hide the involvement of high-level authorities in this crime at all costs,” said a human rights advocate from the Latin America Working Group.

Russian ‘Barbarism’

Top US and UN officials this week accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of facilitating or ignoring a barbaric bombing campaign on the key Syrian city of Aleppo following the breakdown of a ceasefire agreement geared toward ending the five-year-old civil war.

At least 12 people were killed in airstrikes on rebel-held areas of Aleppo on Monday, in the wake of a heavy bombardment that killed 85 others and injured more than 300 over the weekend, CNN reports.

The shelling was reportedly the worst yet in a long, brutal conflict in which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been accused of dropping barrels filled with explosives on civilians and using banned chemical weapons such as chlorine gas.

No one has claimed responsibility for the shelling. But rebel groups and the US have blamed the Syrian regime and Russian jets – hinting that further confrontation with Russia is on the way

“What Russia is sponsoring and doing is not counterterrorism, it is barbarism,” said Samantha Power, America’s ambassador to the UN.


Don Juan… Slow Motion

Diego is one prolific tortoise.

Siring more than 800 offspring on the island of Española in the Galapagos Islands, the “extremely sexually active” giant hooded tortoise has more or less singlehandedly saved his species from extinction, according to Agence France-Presse.

More than 100 years old, the 175-pound, five-foot long tortoise has fathered two of every five hooded tortoises in existence, according to genetic testing.

When he got going, in 1976, there were only 12 female and two male hooded tortoises left, and three other tortoise species native to the island have already gone extinct.

It’s no wonder that visitors call him “Super Diego.” Apparently, slow and steady really does win the race.

Not already a subscriber?

If you would like to receive DailyChatter directly to your inbox each morning, subscribe below with a free two-week trial.

Subscribe today

Support journalism that’s independent, non-partisan, and fair.

If you are a student or faculty with a valid school email, you can sign up for a FREE student subscription or faculty subscription.

Questions? Write to us at

You don't have credit card details available. You will be redirected to update payment method page. Click OK to continue.