Category Archives: East Asia

Singapore Agreement Breaks ‘Last Remaining Cold War Legacy’ – S Korean President

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

An article from Sputnik News

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that his country intends to ensure full implementation of the latest agreements that Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump signed at the Singapore summit earlier in the day.

The South Korean president also stated that Seoul will “accompany Pyongyang on the path of peace and cooperation,” vowing to write a “new history” with North Korea.

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Question for this article:

Can Korea be reunified in peace?

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“Leaving dark days of war and conflict behind, we will write a new chapter of peace and cooperation… The June 12 Sentosa Agreement will be recorded as a historic event that has helped break down the last remaining Cold War legacy on Earth” Moon said in a statement released by his office.
Earlier in the day, Moon Jae-in expressed hope that the US-North Korean high-level summit would pave the wave for an “era of complete denuclearization” and peace in the region. However, his adviser previously stated, echoing the words of the Japanese government secretary, that the complete denuclearization of North Korea might take up to a decade.

On Tuesday Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un signed a document after a long-awaited historic summit in Singapore. Addressing the results of the negotiations, Trump said North Korea’s denuclearization process would be starting “very quickly,” while the North Korean leader stated, that the world was about to see “a major change.”

Toward a Truly Indigenous Peace in the Korean Peninsula

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

An article by Simone Chun for Foreign policy in focus (reprinted according to terms of Creative Commons Attribution licence)

Why is the Democratic Party making peace in Korea more difficult?

Last month, I took part in an international women’s peace delegation to South Korea, led by Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire and Women Cross DMZ founder Christine Ahn.

It was my first visit to my native Korea in over three years. Everywhere I went, I witnessed the afterglow of the inspiring candlelight movement that restored democracy to the country last year, and I sensed the deep conviction with which Koreans support the current peace process initiated by President Moon Jae-in.

Women’s delegation cross Unification Bridge (Nobel Women’s Initiative via Flickr)

Our delegation noted in one of its first official statements following its arrival in Korea:

What initiated the Panmunjom Declaration was the completely non-violent and peaceful civil revolution in 2016 that began with orderly marches of demonstration with warm candlelight through the winter. The candlelight revolution was a true example of the UN’s Culture of Peace.


In addition to meeting with diplomatic representatives from the United States, UK Japan, Sweden, and Canada, we participated in an all-day peace symposium at the National Assembly side by side with South Korean women peace activists. One of our South Korea colleagues commented that while women have been conspicuously absent from the process of war-making in the Korean peninsula (at least from a policy standpoint) they most certainly ought to be part of the peace process.

On the same day that President Moon and Chairman Kim held their second summit in Panmunjom, our delegation, accompanied by over 1,200 Korean women, walked over five kilometers in the sweltering heat to cross the Unification Bridge on foot. Christine Ahn summed up all our sentiments when she later commented:

“We were the first civilians to walk across the Unification Bridge. As I took my first step onto the bridge, tears streamed down my face as I thought about how Korea was divided by the US and the former Soviet Union after 35 years of Japanese colonial occupation.”

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Question for this article:

Can Korea be reunified in peace?

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Returning to the United States however, I found a starkly different reality in the sustained rightwing attacks on the peace process and even the very idea of a peace treaty. Pundits, neocon hawks, and corporate media have been promoting an aggressively maximalist standard according to which North Korea must give up its entire nuclear weapons program before any serious discussions can take place. In this dialogue, the four million Korean and 35,000 American lives lost to the Korean War, as well as the 80 million Koreans whose lives would hang in balance in any renewed conflict, are presented as mere footnotes. North Korea in particular, where poverty is rampant and 25% of children suffer from malnutrition, is presented as the perpetually “threatening other,” fully deserving to suffer from US-led sanctions. American exceptionalism is celebrated without reservation.

In a recent declaration, seven leading Democratic senators continued this disregard for the interests of Koreans themselves in this nominally inter-Korean conflict with their demand that President Trump hold to a hard line in any negotiations with North Korea. The letter – signed by Senators Bob Menendez, Chuck Schumer, Richard Durbin, Mark Warner, Diane Feinstein, Patrick Leahy, and Sherrod Brown – completely overlooked the recent progress toward peace of the inter-Korean summit and the Panmunjom Declaration, and discounted the overwhelming support for the current peace process by Koreans. The letter offers no alternative vision for peace on the Korean Peninsula and considers Korean interests only insofar as they serve the narrow political agenda of the Democratic Party.

On the occasion of our delegation’s visit to Korea, I reached out to renowned scholar Professor Noam Chomsky for a statement in support of our mission. Contrasting the significance of the April 27 Declaration between the two Koreas with the apparently incoherent foreign policy approach of the United States, which plays a dominant role in any prospect for inter-Korean peace, Chomsky commented:

The April 27 Declaration of the two Koreas was a historic event, which promises a bright future for the people of Korea. It calls for the two Koreas to settle their problems “on their own accord” and lays out a careful schedule to proceed, something quite new. It also calls on the international community (meaning Washington) to support this process. Unfortunately, the signals from Washington are at best mixed.  National Security Council advisor John Bolton, who has called for bombing North Korea at once, and Vice-President Mike Pence both invoked the “Libya model,” knowing full well its import. President Trump cancelled the Singapore summit a few hours after North Korea had destroyed its main testing site as an important gesture of conciliation. But these are pitfalls, not termination of the process. With determination and good will the two Koreas can move forward with the plans outlined in the Declaration. It is the task of the people of the United States to support them in this historic endeavor and to ensure that their own government does not undermine or in any way impede the process. That can succeed. It must succeed, for the welfare of Korea, and all of us.

Noam Chomsky is right in pointing out that this initiative carried forward by the two Koreas is in fact “something quite new.” The minimum that the United States can do at this historic moment is to refrain from harming the inter-Korean peace process. It’s time that American politicians, both Democratic and Republicans, give Koreans a chance to shape their own destiny.

Rain or Shine: Dispatch from South Korea

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An article from the Nobel Women’s Initiative

“We walk in the hope that we can move closer to the re-unification of Korea. We have always walked in the rain or shine. Let’s give power to women. Let’s walk.” – Young-Soo Han.

As the political situation on the Korean peninsula continues to shift, our #WomenPeaceKorea: A New Era delegation with Women Cross DMZ  spent the day demonstrating for peace and women’s representation in the process.


Photo courtesy of Women Cross DMZ

Our delegation of 30 women security experts and feminist peace activists from aroundthe world participated in the second historic  DMZ Peace Walk  today in Paju, South Korea. They marched alongside 1,200 South Korean women mobilizing for a peaceful resolution to the Korean conflict.

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Question for this article:

Can Korea be reunified in peace?

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“This strip of land symbolizes the longest division of a people, and it feels so amazing to be walking with 1,200 women to erase this division.” – Christine Ahn.

During the opening ceremonies we heard from Young-Soo Han, President of the National YWCA of Korea, about the significance of the march. The 5.5 km Peace Walk began by  crossing the Tongildaegyo  (Unification Bridge). As we walked we were told that this was the first time civilians had actually crossed the bridge on foot.

The march came just hours before it was announced that, despite American President Donald Trump’s Thursday cancellation of June’s Korea peace summit, South Korean President Moon Jae-in met with North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un  on the North side of the DMZ to continue talks.

“The time for peace has come. Peace can only come if the people build it. But peace also needs political leaders. So we call on Kim, Moon and Trump to sign a peace treaty for the people of Korea and for the world.” – Mairead Maguire.

The Peace Walk ended in Dorasan Peace Park with a Women’s Peace Walk Declaration  reading and Peace Festival. Nobel peace laureate, Mairead Maguire, also spoke at the festival  to highlight the power of civilian peacebuilders and call world leaders back to the negotiating table.

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

“Our Dreams Are Coming True”: Peace Activists Celebrate as Korean Leaders Vow to Officially End War

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

An article from Democracy Now (reprinted under terms of  Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

History has been made on the Korean peninsula today, as South Korean President Moon Jae-In and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un shook hands at the Demilitarized Zone between the two countries and pledged to work to denuclearize the peninsula and to declare the official end to the Korean War. Today’s historic summit marks the first time a North Korean leader has ever set foot inside South Korea. During the meeting, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said “I came here to put an end to the history of confrontation.” The North and South Korean leaders pledged to pursue talks with the United States aimed at negotiating a formal peace treaty to replace the uneasy 1953 armistice. For more we speak with Ann Wright, retired U.S. Army Colonel and former State Department diplomat. She is a member of Women Cross DMZ, a group of international peacemakers who have been calling for an end to the Korean War.


Video of program

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, Democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. History was made on the Korean Peninsula today.

MOON JAE-IN: Kim Jong-un and I declared together that there will be no more war on the Korean Peninsula and a new age of peace has begun.

AMY GOODMAN: Those were the words of South Korean President Moon Jae-in as he held a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. After shaking hands at the demilitarized zone between the two countries, the two leaders pledged to work to denuclearize the Peninsula and to declare the official end to the Korean War. Today’s historic summit marks the first time a North Korean leader has ever set foot inside South Korea. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un wrote in a guest book “a new history starts now. An age of peace, from the starting point of history.” Kim and his South Korean counterpart pledged to pursue talks with the United States aimed at negotiating a formal peace treaty to replace the uneasy truce that was brokered after the 1950-1953 Korean War. This is North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaking today.

KIM JONG-UN: We will make efforts to create good results by communicating closely in order to make sure our agreement signed today before the entire world will not end as just a beginning like previous agreements before today.

AMY GOODMAN: Today’s breakthrough comes amidst a series of diplomatic developments regarding North Korea and its nuclear program. Last month, Kim Jong-un traveled to Beijing by armored train to meet with the president of China, Xi Jinping, in Kim’s first foreign trip since taking office in 2011. Kim is also slated to meet soon with President Trump, in what would be the first-ever meeting between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader. Last week, North Korea announced it would stop testing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles and would close a site where at least six prior nuclear tests were held. This is South Korean President Moon Jae-In speaking today.

MOON JAE-IN: It is very significant that North Korea took a measure of freezing nuclear first. It will be a valuable beginning for the complete denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. I clearly declare that the South and North will closely cooperate for the complete denuclearization.

AMY GOODMAN: This morning, after President Trump tweeted against James Comey once again, he then tweeted, ”KOREAN WAR TO END! The United States, and all of its GREATpeople, should be very proud of what is now taking place in Korea!” We go right now to Hawaii, where we are joined by retired U.S. Army colonel, former State Department diplomat, Ann Wright. She is a member of Women Cross DMZ, a group of international peacemakers who have been calling for an end to the Korean War. Ann Wright, talk about your response to what has just taken place on the Korean Peninsula. Did you ever think you would see this day?

ANN WRIGHT: Holy smoke, no. This is just really remarkable. The last 12 hours have just stunned everyone, of the incredible, incredible work that has been done by the South Korean government with the North Korean government. And for them to have been able to come out with a communiqué, an agreement that is stunning, that has—I mean, I couldn’t have written it any better. All of the wants that we of the world who want peace for the Korean Peninsula, who could have written everything down—we couldn’t have added anything more to what they have come up with. It is really a beautiful, beautiful agreement, worked very hard by both governments. And I certainly hope the United States government will agree with all parts of it and that, indeed, the people of Korea will finally have peace on their Peninsula.

AMY GOODMAN: As you mentioned, this really has been pushed forward by the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in. He campaigned on this and he has pushed very hard for this meeting. What is actually in the document that they signed, from the economy to denuclearization?

ANN WRIGHT: Indeed, it is just—it’s breathtaking, the amount of things that are in this communiqué. Everything from denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, to a peace treaty, to no more war on the Korean Peninsula. To establish a peace regime. To have family reunification starting on August 15th. To connect railroads and roads. To cease all hostile acts on land, air, and sea. To transform the DMZ into a peace zone. To have a maritime peace zone in the western, northern limit of the area. To hold military talks in May. That President Moon will go to North Korea in the fall. And to say there will be disarmament in a phased manner as tensions are alleviated. It is a really beautiful, beautiful document that will require a lot of work, that’s for sure, and a lot of commitment to make sure that this doesn’t get derailed in any way, but it is really a very comprehensive statement of peace for the Korean Peninsula.

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Question for this article:

Can Korea be reunified in peace?

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AMY GOODMAN: Now, you are a retired U.S. Army colonel. You quit the State Department over your opposition to the war in Afghanistan. You are a fierce critic of President Trump. But do you believe that President Trump deserves credit for some of what has taken place today?

ANN WRIGHT: Absolutely. Ninety-nine percent of the things that President Trump is doing, I don’t agree with, but even when he was running for office, when he said “I will talk to people. I will talk to Kim Jong-un,” it was like, “Well, that’s a very good statement.” And indeed, he has followed through, saying that he will. And I certainly hope that they do have a very good summit in late May or in June. It is very important that the United States follow through with what the South Korean government and the North Korean government have done. And I certainly wish President Trump goodwill for this, and I wish him goodwill if he would approach other aspects of our globe for peace, for the better environment, for keeping our planet safe for everyone. But yes, he deserves a little bit of credit for this, and I’ll give it to him.

AMY GOODMAN: As the Korean leaders embraced each other on the demilitarized zone, the White House released the photograph of Mike Pompeo, who was secretary of state nominee at the time—he has been approved—and Kim Jong-un in that secret Easter-day meeting. The significance of that, Ann Wright?

ANN WRIGHT: Well, as director of the CIA at the time, to have sent the intelligence chief of the United States instead of the secretary of state—although by that time, Tillerson I believe had already been fired. But President Trump having in mind the nomination, I guess, of Mike Pompeo to become secretary of state, it does put him in a position that he has at least met Kim Jong-un. Hopefully, they will develop some sort of a relationship so that the United States and North Korea can have a reasonable relationship. It is very important that we give credit where credit is due. I hope not only is he able to smooth out relations with North Korea, keep relations with South Korea, and I hope he is able to rebuild the State Department, which so desperately needs to have some attention from the Trump administration.

AMY GOODMAN: And what does this mean for the, what is it, something like 28,000 troops in South Korea, U.S. troops in South Korea, today?

ANN WRIGHT: Oh, I can imagine that those 28,000 troops are just breathing a sigh of relief. To have been assigned to North—to South Korea with all of the tensions, it must have been very, very difficult for all of the U.S. military there as well as the civilians of South Korea, having to live under all of the rhetoric that has been going on. But I feel quite certain that our U.S. military is breathing a great sigh of relief with this agreement between North and South Korea.

AMY GOODMAN: Ann Wright, you crossed the demilitarized zone as a member of Women Cross DMZ in 2015. Did you think this moment can come, and do you see a unified Korea in the future?

ANN WRIGHT: Well, indeed. In 2015, with Christine Ahn, with whom I was with this afternoon here in Honolulu as we watched the very beginning of the talks between the leaders of North and South Korea. And of course, this has been our dream, not just Women Cross the DMZ, but all of the people that have been working on the issues of the Korean Peninsula for decades. And indeed it is just—it is a remarkable occurrence today that our dreams are really coming true.

If this agreement is implemented in the way that it is written, it will really provide such a relief to both the people of North Korea and South Korea that they don’t have to live under the threat of potential military action, that indeed there can be cooperation on economic areas that will help North Korea.

The people in North Korea are not dummies. They are very smart people, and I think they will be able to use this opportunity very, very well to increase their standard of living. And the family reunification part of this, that the people of the Korean Peninsula who were artificially divided in 1945, that indeed they will be able to resume family relationships, and that the Korean Peninsula will become a safe place, a place of peace for the world.

AMY GOODMAN: We are currently showing live footage of the two leaders, South and North Korea, as they hold hands, continue to embrace each other. Do you think, Ann Wright, that the crippling sanctions that President Trump imposed against North Korea drove Kim Jong-un to this point? And what do you think we could see if North Korea is opened up?

ANN WRIGHT: Well, the pressure that the international community has put on North Korea definitely had to have had some effect on Kim Jong-un’s decision to be more open. However, I think the greater thing was that, indeed, because they have developed nuclear weapons, that they feel secure that they could defend themselves from any type of regime change, which is still the policy of the United States. Although, hopefully, by the tweet that President Trump did this morning, regime change is no longer our policy. But I think between the confidence that Kim Jong-un had because of the nuclear program and the increased sanctions that had to be hurting, those things combined put him in a position that, “OK, let’s deal with the West.” I think he is dealing very well with it.

And the numbers of or the amount of natural resources that they have in North Korea, the intelligence of the people of North Korea—I mean, with all of the sanctions and all of the things that the international community have done to them, they still developed nuclear weapons. They still put—they developed ICBMs. They put satellites into space. It’s not like under all those sanctions that they were just totally crippled. They are very smart people, and I think with a little bit of a chance, that we will see remarkable things happening for the people of North Korea.

AMY GOODMAN: Ann Wright, I want to thank you for being with us. Retired U.S. Army colonel, a member of Women Cross DMZ, speaking to us from Hawaii today about this historic development on the Korean Peninsula—the meeting of the South and North Korean leaders across the DMZ. We will continue to cover this. Tune in next week and over the weekend for the latest developments at Democracynow.org. 
This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we go to Capitol Hill, where the EPAAdministrator, Scott Pruitt, who many say has rolled back environmental regulations to an extent we have not seen in decades, was grilled on Capitol Hill. Stay with us.

Alliance in Asia: A subsidiary for International Cities of Peace in China!

.. DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION ..

Excerpt from April newsletter of International Cities of Peace

In January, Executive Director J. Fred Arment traveled to Nanjing, China, our 169th city of peace, to discuss forming an alliance to extend the reach of International Cities of Peace throughout Asia. The purpose of the alliance is to create a partnership with the UNESCO Peace Studies Chair of Nanjing University and the Director of the Memorial Hall of the Nanjing Massacre. This alliance is much like a subsidiary organization formed by for-profit corporations such as GM and AT&T.


We are pleased to report that there was great success as a result of the trip. Professor Liu Cheng, the only UNESCO Peace Chair in China and director of the Nanjing University Institute of Peace has formed an alliance to promote cities of peace in Southeast Asia. In September, the Mayor of Nanjing will host a week-long celebration of International Day of Peace. City of Peace leaders will be present for a Conference. Extremely wonderful news!

Questions for this article:

(Olympics) Top organizer says ‘world became one’ during PyeongChang Winter Olympics

.. DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION ..

An article from Yonhap News

The PyeongChang Winter Olympics brought the world together “in peace and harmony,” the event’s top organizer said during the closing ceremony on Sunday [Feb. 25].


Athletes from South and North Korea march together at the closing ceremony of the 23rd Winter Olympics at the Olympic Stadium in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province, on Feb. 25, 2018. (Yonhap)

“In PyeongChang, the world became one,” said Lee Hee-beom, head of the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games (POCOG), during the ceremony at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium. “Transcending the differences of race, religion, nation and gender, we smiled together, cried together, and shared friendship together. Even though we are now saying goodbye to each other, PyeongChang 2018 will be long remembered with beautiful and unforgettable memories.”

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Questions for this article:

Can the Olympic Games promote a Culture of Peace?

Can Korea be reunified in peace?

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Lee pointed to athletes from South and North Korea in particular, as they marched in together behind the Korean Unification Flag during the opening ceremony and agreed to form a unified women’s hockey team. Lee said these acts “showcased much bigger possibilities beyond sport.”

“When marching together, and even competing together as a unified Korean team, it constituted a strong identity of one single nation,” Lee said. “The world paid its high tribute of admiration for the athletes of South and North Korea, who marched and competed together during the games.”

Lee had long pushed the vision of holding a “Peace Olympics” in PyeongChang, and he said the presence of both Koreas at these Olympic Games has laid a solid foundation for the future of the two Koreas.

“The seed of peace you have planted here in PyeongChang will grow as a big tree in the not-distant future,” he said. “The hope and aspirations of South and North Korean athletes together with cheerleaders will definitely serve as a cornerstone of the unification of the Korean Peninsula.”

Lee saluted all the athletes as “true winners,” and thanked PyeongChang residents, POCOG staff members, volunteers and other Olympic partners as “patriots and heroes.”

UN chief in Pyeongchang; Olympic message of peace is universal, beacon for human solidarity, culture of peace

.. DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION ..

News story and press release from the United Nations News Centre

Following is the text of UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ video message for the pre‑ceremony at the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games, in the Republic of Korea today [PyeongChang, February 9]:


Secretary-General António Guterres (left) and Thomas Bach, President of the IOC, hold a joint press encounter at the IOC office in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea. UN Photo/Mark Garten

안녕하십니까 Ahn-nyoung Ha-shim-nikka, PyeongChang.

The world gathers on the Korean Peninsula today, united by the Olympic spirit:  in solidarity, mutual respect and friendly competition.  The Olympics and Paralympics showcase the best of the world’s athletic achievements.

 And the best of humanity.

Let the Olympic flame shine as a beacon to human solidarity.  Let the Olympic Truce help spread a culture of peace.  Let the Olympic spirit guide our actions today and every day.

Thank you.  Gahm-sah Hahm-ni-da 감사합니다.

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Questions for this article:

Can the Olympic Games promote a Culture of Peace?

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. . . United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called on everyone to recognize and promote the Games’ universal message of peace and tolerance.

“The Olympic spirit allows people to be together, from all over the world, to respect each other, to assert the values of tolerance, of mutual understanding that are the basic elements for peace to be possible,” Mr. Guterres told journalists in Pyeongchang.

Obviously, in the present context, he said, there is a lot of attention for this message of peace in relation to the Korean Peninsula, but the Olympic message of peace is not local.

“It is universal. It’s for the world. It is valued in Korea as it is valued everywhere where we struggle to try to address the many complex conflicts that we are facing,” he said.

The UN chief also extended his appreciation and pride to be at the Winter Olympics and highlighted the cooperation between UN and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), as well as the values for which the IOC and its sister organization, the International Paralympic Committee, stand.

The Winter Olympics opened earlier today (local time) with cultural and artistic performances as well as the customary parade of athletes, which was the delegations from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea under one flag, carried together by a sportsperson from each team.

Also today, the opening ceremony saw the conclusion of the long journey of the Olympic Torch that started in November 2017.

In the last leg of its journey, the flame was carried, among others, by Miroslav Lajčák, the President of the UN General Assembly and Thomas Bach, the President of the IOC.

Outlining the commonalities between sport and diplomacy – both about peace and bringing people together – Mr. Lajčák highlighted that the Olympic torch is “probably the best symbol in our times in our world.”

“[It] is a symbol of peace, a symbol of youth, a symbol of sport, communication, a symbol of tradition, a symbol of hope.” he said.

(Thank you to Phyllis Kotite, the CPNN reporter for these articles.)

China Reassigns 60,000 Soldiers to Plant Trees

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article by Lorraine Chow for Ecowatch

Earlier this year, the Chinese government announced plans for a major reforestation project—growing 6.66 million hectares of new forests this year, an area roughly the size of Ireland.


The Great Wall of China, Badaling. Hrvoje Sasek / Flickr

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Question for this article:

When you cultivate plants, do you cultivate peace?

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To achieve this goal, China has reassigned more than 60,000 soldiers to plant the trees. According to the Asia Times, a large regiment from the People’s Liberation Army, along with some of the nation’s armed police force, have been withdrawn from their posts near the northern border to work on the task.

The majority of the troops will be dispatched in the heavily polluted industrial province of Hebei, which has pledged to raise total forest coverage to 35 percent by the end of 2020.

China’s State Forestry Administration aims to increase the whole country’s forest coverage rate to 23 percent from 21.7 percent by the end of the decade. Then from 2020 to 2035, China plans to further boost the percentage of forest coverage to 26 percent.

China is the world’s largest emitter and remains heavily dependent on coal, but has been cleaning up its act in recent years due to concerns over the impacts of air pollution and climate change. The country is investing heavily in renewable energy, energy efficiency and electric cars.

UN chief in Pyeongchang; Olympic message of peace is universal, beacon for human solidarity, culture of peace

.. DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION ..

News story and press release from the United Nations News Centre

Following is the text of UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ video message for the pre‑ceremony at the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games, in the Republic of Korea today [February 9]:


Secretary-General António Guterres (left) and Thomas Bach, President of the IOC, hold a joint press encounter at the IOC office in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea. UN Photo/Mark Garten

안녕하십니까 Ahn-nyoung Ha-shim-nikka, PyeongChang.

The world gathers on the Korean Peninsula today, united by the Olympic spirit:  in solidarity, mutual respect and friendly competition.  The Olympics and Paralympics showcase the best of the world’s athletic achievements.

 And the best of humanity.

Let the Olympic flame shine as a beacon to human solidarity.  Let the Olympic Truce help spread a culture of peace.  Let the Olympic spirit guide our actions today and every day.

Thank you.  Gahm-sah Hahm-ni-da 감사합니다.

. . . United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called on everyone to recognize and promote the Games’ universal message of peace and tolerance.

“The Olympic spirit allows people to be together, from all over the world, to respect each other, to assert the values of tolerance, of mutual understanding that are the basic elements for peace to be possible,” Mr. Guterres told journalists in Pyeongchang.

(Articles continued in right column)

Questions for this article:

Can the Olympic Games promote a Culture of Peace?

Can Korea be reunified in peace?

(Articles continued from left column)

Obviously, in the present context, he said, there is a lot of attention for this message of peace in relation to the Korean Peninsula, but the Olympic message of peace is not local.

“It is universal. It’s for the world. It is valued in Korea as it is valued everywhere where we struggle to try to address the many complex conflicts that we are facing,” he said.

The UN chief also extended his appreciation and pride to be at the Winter Olympics and highlighted the cooperation between UN and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), as well as the values for which the IOC and its sister organization, the International Paralympic Committee, stand.

The Winter Olympics opened earlier today (local time) with cultural and artistic performances as well as the customary parade of athletes, which was the delegations from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea under one flag, carried together by a sportsperson from each team.

Also today, the opening ceremony saw the conclusion of the long journey of the Olympic Torch that started in November 2017.

In the last leg of its journey, the flame was carried, among others, by Miroslav Lajčák, the President of the UN General Assembly and Thomas Bach, the President of the IOC.

Outlining the commonalities between sport and diplomacy – both about peace and bringing people together – Mr. Lajčák highlighted that the Olympic torch is “probably the best symbol in our times in our world.”

“[It] is a symbol of peace, a symbol of youth, a symbol of sport, communication, a symbol of tradition, a symbol of hope.” he said.

(Thank you to Phyllis Kotite, the CPNN reporter for these articles.)

PyeongChang Winter Olympics to Serve as Platform for Sustainable World

.. DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION ..

An article by Oh Soo-young, KBS World Radio News.

Anchor: With three days left until the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, an event in Seoul on Tuesday aimed to shine a spotlight on how the global sporting event can bring the world together in efforts to achieve social and environmental sustainability. Our Oh Sooyoung was at the event.

Report: The Olympics are not just a stage of athletic skill and sportsmanship but a global platform to build a better and more sustainable world. 

That was the over-arching theme of a “talk concert” held on Tuesday in central Seoul, co-hosted by the PyeongChang Olympics Organizing Committee, the South Korean government and seven UN agencies in South Korea. 

Former Olympians and various opinion leaders emphasized how the Olympic Games can contribute to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) which include improving livelihoods and empowering women and youth. 

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Questions for this article:

Can the Olympic Games promote a Culture of Peace?

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United Nation Development Programme(UNDP) Seoul Policy Centre Director Balázs Horváth said a core principle of sustainable development is “leaving no one behind” – a value that resonates with the spirit of the Olympics. 

UNDP Seoul Policy Centre’s Director Balázs Horváth: “Sports is a valuable tool for promoting a just, peaceful and inclusive society. They help promote social inclusion, build trust and foster a culture of peace between groups, even groups that are in conflict. Help empower individuals and communities, especially for women and young children.” 

Beyond the sporting events, achieving sustainable peace and development are critical objectives for the games in PyeongChang. 

The PyeongChang Olympic Committee strives to preserve nature, revitalize local communities by supporting tourism and job creation as well as regional development using clean and affordable energy, according to the UN director. 

UNDP Seoul Policy Centre’s Director Balázs Horváth: “It contributes towards building industry and infrastructure. The KTX train that takes people to the Olympics. It contributes to clean water and sanitation – another SDG. Affordable and clean energy. Also, the way they are placing great emphasis on renewable energy and saving energy contributes to climate action, another SDG.” 

Organizers hope the PyeongChang Olympics will serve as an opportunity for the world to come together to create a better future.