The more interesting question is what [South Korean president] Moon Jae-In’s administration does about this if [North Korea's missing ambassador to Italy] really wants to defect. Moon would like to have another summit with Kim Jong Un and want him to visit Seoul. And I’m sure the Moon administration would be worried that this would complicate the effort to put one together. What’s unique about [North Korean] diplomats is that they have much more opportunity to defect than anybody else living in North Korea. If they are being reassigned to Pyongyang and afraid of not getting out of there again, they might take this opportunity.
Mao Zedong did not see the value of reform and opening up. The China part of Nixon’s 1967 Foreign Affairs article suggested an implicit bargain that provided the conceptual basis for China’s new direction after 1978. That bargain was if China focused on domestic development and didn’t threaten the security of its neighbours, the United States would help.
We have to understand very clearly what Kim’s phrase ["denuclearization"] means. Based on how North Korea has elaborated on its conditions in the past, it probably means, at some point, the end of U.S.-R.O.K. alliance, the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula, the end of the U.S. nuclear umbrella. None of these things are something American or South Korean government would contemplate.
[Hong Kong's chief executive Carrie Lam] is caught in an impossible position [of having to uphold Beijing's interests and maintain Hong Kong's autonomy]. One consequence of that, for example, is that she may calculate that goals like preserving the rule of law and preserving civil and political rights, from attrition by Beijing, is best done quietly. If she does this in a public way that makes it very clear to everybody that she's making demands, then Beijing is going to respond in the worst possible way.
[Beijing] doesn't understand the social and political dynamics of advanced economies like Hong Kong and Taiwan. [It] particularly doesn't understand the priorities of young people. Most of all, it does not understand how its own policies are creating the problems it finds troubling.
The [political reform] proposal that ultimately went to [Hong Kong's] Legco (the Legislative Council) in April 2015 was better than people realised, and maybe reviving it with modest changes would elicit enough support from the democratic camp. Unless politics is restored to institutional channels it will stay in the street.
If you’re going to rely on sanctions and enhancing deterrents [to undercut North Korea’s military provocations], it has to be pretty multilateral and comprehensive, and you can’t have China undermining efforts. Negotiating with China and a group of allies is not inconsistent because if you don’t have some basic understanding with China about a basic approach, working with allies and partners is only going to get you part-way.
The main threat that North Korea poses is from its development of nuclear weapons and the ability to deliver those over the long distances. In two-to-five years North Korea will be able to launch a nuclear weapon capable of reaching the continental United States.
North Korea is not a transparent regime. It doesn’t get the United States and it doesn’t understand South Korea. It can be quite reckless and is liable to get more reckless. The situation has been stable so far, because the United States has an asymmetric advantage, but as that advantage goes away it frees North Korea perhaps to do things it never considered before.
Will the American business community sit idly by and watch Trump undertake a trade war with China? They have a lot at stake in this. [Trump's stream of anti-Chinese Tweets poses risks of being misunderstood.] China would regard a potential challenge as more dangerous than it actually might be.