Archive for the south Korea Category

South Korea: 150,000 rally on May Day to oppose government’s labor reforms [The Hankyoreh / 한겨레]

Posted in Labor strike, May 1, south Korea on May 6, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

May.2,2015

On May 1, 125th International Workers’ Day, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU) organized the largest ever gathering for the holiday – with around 150,000 people attending – and expressed their opposition to government plans to restructure the labor market.

At 3 pm, about 50,000 members of the KCTU gathered for a demonstration at Seoul Plaza, with the city deploying an estimated 22,000 riot police. The KCTU members urged the government to stop its unilateral restructuring of the labor market that only asks workers to sacrifice without any sacrifices from the business world and called for the minimum wage, which is currently 5,580 won (US$5.17), to be increased to 10,000 won (US$9.26).

“We must move forward more forcefully to ensure basic labor rights for all workers, to prevent the public servants’ pension system from being changed for the worse, to crush fake normalization of public corporations, to get to the bottom of the Sewol tragedy, to repeal the worthless enforcement decree of the special Sewol Law, and to fix the political corruption brought to light by the Sung Wan-jong scandal,” KCTU President Han Sang-gyun said…

Excerpted; full article link: http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_national/689507.html

Spotlight: Protests, demonstrations staged across world on May Day [Xinhua]

Posted in Germany, Greece, Italy, May 1, Police, Police brutality, Police State, south Korea, Turkey, USA on May 5, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Kind of police-centric reports – ZS

BEIJING, May 3 (Xinhua) — Many cities around the world were swept by protests and demonstrations on Friday, which marked the International Workers’ Day.

Most events were peaceful protests for workers’ rights and anti-austerity demonstrations. But violent clashes between police and protesters erupted in some cities, where protesters were arrested and stores and cars were vandalized.

Here is a look at some of the May Day rallies across the world:

– Germany…

– United States…

– Greece…

– Italy…

– The Philippines…

– South Korea…

– Turkey…

Full article link: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2015-05/03/c_134205470.htm

S.Korean president accepts PM’s resignation [Xinhua]

Posted in south Korea on April 27, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

SEOUL, April 27 (Xinhua) — South Korean President Park Geun- hye on Monday accepted Prime Minister Lee Wan-koo’s resignation offer after coming back to Seoul earlier in the day from her tour to Latin American nations, Yonhap News Agency reported.

Lee offered to resign last Monday as the country’s second- highest administrative post amid the growing suspicion over his involvement in a bribery scandal. Lee is scheduled to deliver a farewell speech to the nation at about 6:10 p.m. local time.

Lee’s resignation came amid allegations that he received 30 million won (28,000 U.S. dollars) in bribes from a businessman who killed himself on April 9.

Sung Wan-jong, the former ruling party lawmaker and businessman who ran the now-bankrupt construction firm, left a brief memo that listed eight heavyweight politicians, including Lee and current presidential chief of staff Lee Byung-kee, alongside currency figures.

Prosecutors formed a special team to investigate the scandal, but concerns emerged that Lee as the sitting prime minister may block the probe into himself as he receives prosecution reports on how the investigation goes on.

Lee, who took office in February, would become the country’s shortest-serving prime minister in history…

Excerpted; full article link: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2015-04/27/c_134188916.htm

EDITORIAL: Excessive violence by police at Sewol anniversary events [The Hankyoreh / 한겨레]

Posted in Police brutality, Police State, Protest action, south Korea, south Korean human rights hypocrisy on April 26, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Posted on : Apr.20,2015

With South Korean citizens organizing a series of events to commemorate the anniversary of the tragic sinking of the Sewol ferry, the police seemed resolved to brutally put down these peaceful demonstrations and marches. The same government that did such a poor job of rescuing passengers on the ferry is wielding a terrible power as it tramples on the grief of the victims’ families and other South Koreans and as it suppresses the justified appeals for the truth.

During a memorial event on Apr. 16, the first anniversary of the sinking, the police responded with excessive force, sealing off Gwanghwamun Square behind a barricade of buses and firing tear gas at marchers. During this process, the mother of one student who died in the sinking sustained four broken ribs.

During the nationwide public assembly for the anniversary of the Sewol tragedy on Apr. 18, the police mustered around 470 vehicles and 13,700 officers to completely wall of Gyeongbok Palace, Gwanghwamun Square, and Sejong street intersection.

The police indiscriminately fired water cannons and tear gas and hauled off around a hundred members of the victims’ families who tried to protest the hard-line response. Reportedly, the police dragged off a university student by her hair. These are grim scenes that evoke the days before democratization [sic].

Citing the inconvenience to motorists caused by protestors marching down the streets and violence including attacks on police officers, the police insist that their harsh response was unavoidable. But there is nothing unusual about rerouting traffic in downtown Seoul because of various events, such as the marathon that was held last weekend.

Mourning a national tragedy and calling for a thorough investigation is protected by freedom of expression. If anything, in a democracy, this kind of expression ought to be protected more than any other kind of event.

If it were not for the excessive police response, no confrontations or physical clashes would have occurred in the first place. Even worse, using bus barricades to cordon off traffic and block demonstrations is a clear violation of the constitution, according to a decision by the Constitutional Court. The explanation offered by the police is no more than an excuse, and a flimsy one at that.

“The unnecessary use of force by South Korean police against families of the Sewol ferry tragedy is an insult to the victims and a violation of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” global human rights advocacy group Amnesty International said.

“The use of chemical irritants primarily to disperse peaceful protesters [. . . ] is unlawful under international legal standards,” the group also said.

It is mortifying to consider what the international community, which is observing the anniversary of the Sewol tragedy, will make of such a situation.

What’s the point of President Park diligently traveling to foreign countries? A single picture of police violently clamping down on citizens gathered together to mourn a national tragedy degrades South Korea’s international prestige at a single blow.

The surprisingly brutal attitude of the police would be inconceivable, were it not for the attitude with which the Park administration has responded to the Sewol disaster. If the government had made a sincere effort to get to the bottom of the tragedy, such a situation would never have occurred.

For an entire year after the accident, the government has stonewalled the launch of the Special Sewol Investigative Committee and delayed the salvaging of the sunken ferry. Finally, now that it is facing massive criticism and resistance, it has taken drastic measures to muzzle the public.

When these events are viewed in this light, it’s hard to shake the feeling that the rash behavior of the police was directed by, or at least received the tacit approval of, core figures in the current administration. The figures who came up with the idea of suppressing the protests must be identified and held responsible.

Edited by Zuo Shou

Editorial link: http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_editorial/687582.html

“US faces another debacle on Pacific economic treaty” – TPP, fake free trade pact, in trouble [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Anti-China propaganda exposure, Australia, Canada, Capitalism crisis early 21st century, Chile, China, China-bashing, Economic crisis & decline, Economy, Encirclement of China, EU, European Union, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Media cover-up, Mexico, New Zealand, Obama, Peru, Protectionist Trade War with China, Singapore, south Korea, U.K., US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War, Vietnam on April 5, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Mike Head
4 April 2015

Having suffered a decisive defeat in its efforts to block other countries from joining the new China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the US government faces mounting difficulties with regard to its most far-reaching move to dominate the Asia-Pacific region: the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

In Hawaii last month, the latest round of five-year-long TPP talks between the 12 governments involved broke up without any further agreement. For the third year in a row, the White House’s deadline for a final deal looks set to be breached in 2015.

Significantly, the main stumbling block this time was reportedly not ongoing differences between the US and Japan over auto and agricultural markets, but doubts over President Barack Obama’s capacity to get congressional approval for the pact.

Falsely presented as a “free trade” deal, the TPP is the opposite. It is aimed at creating a vast US-controlled economic bloc. In return for favoured access to the US market, which is still the largest in the world, the TPP requires its members to scrap all legal, regulatory and government impediments to American investment and corporate operations.

The TPP is an essential component of Washington’s military and strategic “pivot” to Asia, aimed at establishing unchallenged hegemony over the region, including China, which has thus far been excluded from the treaty. The “partnership” seeks to restructure every aspect of economic and social life across the Asia-Pacific in the interests of Wall Street finance capital and the largest US corporations, particularly the IT, pharmaceutical and media conglomerates.

A similar drive is underway to incorporate the European Union into a Transatlantic Trade and I nvestment Partnership (TTIP) bloc. Like the TPP, the European treaty is being negotiated behind the backs of the international working class amid tight secrecy, with hundreds of the world’s largest corporations taking part.

Obama has resorted to blatant anti-Chinese rhetoric in a bid to overcome opposition to aspects of the TPP from sections of the Democratic and Republican congressional leaderships. In one recent interview, the US president declared: “If we don’t write the rules out there, China’s going to write the rules and the geopolitical implications of China writing the rules for trade almost inevitably means that we will be cut out or we will be deeply disadvantaged. Our businesses will be disadvantaged, our workers will be disadvantaged.”

Washington is concerned that other imperialist powers, such as Germany, Britain and Japan, could strengthen their positions in China at the expense of the US unless America “writes the rules” for world trade in the 21st century.

Global financial commentators are drawing attention to what is at stake. Under the headline, “Round two in America’s battle for Asian influence,” David Pilling wrote in the London-based Financial Times on April 1: “Washington’s attempt to lead a boycott of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank ended in farce after Britain broke ranks and other nations from Germany to South Korea fell over themselves to join. If round one was a defeat for America, round two hangs in the balance.”

Pilling noted that the TPP’s exclusion of China, on the grounds that its economy was state-owned and centrally planned, was obviously concocted. “In a peculiar display of diplomatic contortion,” he wrote, “Vietnam — a country whose economy is as centrally planned and as rigged [sic] as the best of them — is somehow considered fit for entry.”

The Financial Times Asia editor pointedly added that the TPP was “just as likely to annoy America’s allies in the region as reassure them” because of its intrusive demands, which include the dismantling of state-owned enterprises, tendering restrictions, financial regulations, data protection rules and intellectual property laws.

Washington’s aggressive drive to establish the TPP and TTIP economic blocs marks a reversal of its post-World War II role, when the ascendancy of American industry permitted it to champion the reconstruction of its Japanese and European rivals, albeit always for its own benefit, including via the expansion of markets for its exports.

Today, amid the ongoing decline of US industry, its ruling elite depends increasingly on the parasitic activities of Wall Street, the exploitation of patents by Silicon Valley, Hollywood and the drug companies, and contracts for the supply of military hardware. These rapacious interests will most directly benefit from the TPP.

Many details remain secret, but pro-TPP lobbying efforts highlight the anticipated profit bonanzas. Mireya Solis of the Brookings Institution think tank stressed advantages such as “internationalisation of financial services, protection of intellectual property and governance of the Internet economy.”

US technology firms would benefit from a ban on requiring companies to house customers’ data within a specific country. “If we’re going to serve the customer of Malaysia from, say, a data center in Singapore, the data has to be able to move back and forth between those two countries,” Brad Smith, Microsoft general counsel, told the Wall Street Journal.

Central to the treaty are punitive Investor-State Dispute Settlements (ISDS) clauses, which permit transnationals to sue governments for losses allegedly caused by official policy decisions. WikiLeaks last month published a chapter of the TPP treaty showing that firms could bypass a country’s courts to obtain damages for changes in “environmental, health or other regulatory objectives.”

Apart from the US and Japan — the two biggest partners by far — the other TPP participants are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The willingness of many of these countries to make the required concessions to the US has been undermined by Obama’s failure to secure support for a Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill so that he can sign the TPP and then have it ratified by Congress with a single “yes” or “no” vote. Without TPA, Congress could force amendments to the negotiated pact, effectively rendering the agreement void.

According to a Japan Times report: “Several negotiating partners, including Canada and Japan, have publicly stated they will not put their final negotiating positions on the table until Congress grants TPA for the Obama administration. With a presidential election looming in the United States, further delay creates a real risk of TPP being delayed until 2017.”

Much of the US congressional resistance is bound up with protectionist lobbies, based on national-based industries and their trade unions. In response, the Obama administration is ramping up a campaign that explicitly spells out the expected benefits to corporate America.

On March 30, the White House published letters from former senior economic officials, including 10 ex-commerce secretaries representing every administration, Democratic and Republican, since 1973, urging congressional leaders to give Obama TPA authority.

The commerce secretaries stated: “Once completed, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will give the United States free trade arrangements with 65 percent of global GDP and give our businesses preferential access to a large base of new potential customers.”

This demand for “preferential access” by US imperialism threatens to break up the world economy into the kind of rival blocs that preceded World War I and World War II.

Edited by Zuo Shou

Article link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/04/04/tppo-a04.html

“A decisive turning point in the crisis of American imperialism” – AIIP is here [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Assassination, Australia, Beijing, Capitalism crisis early 21st century, China, Denmark, Early 21st Century global capitalist financial crisis' US origins, Economic crisis & decline, Engels, France, Germany, IMF - International Monetary Fund, India, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Obama, Pentagon, Police State, south Korea, Taiwan, Torture, Trotsky, US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War on April 2, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

1 April 2015

Yesterday was the deadline for countries to sign up as founding members of the China-backed Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). It will go down in history as marking a significant defeat for the global foreign policy and strategic objectives of United States imperialism.

Against strenuous opposition from Washington, more than 40 countries have now indicated they want to be part of the AIIB. Major European powers including Britain, France and Germany, as well as Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands, are on board. Almost all countries in the South East Asian region, which count China as their major trading partner, have also signed up. India is also a signatory, together with Taiwan.

The most significant blow against the US was struck by Britain, its chief European ally, which announced its decision to join on March 12. It opened the floodgates for others to follow, including two key US allies in the Asia-Pacific -— Australia and South Korea. Japan is also reported to be considering joining, possibly as early as June.

The full significance of the US defeat and its far-reaching implications emerge most clearly when viewed from a historical perspective.

One of the chief objections of the Obama administration to the new bank was that it would undermine the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Together with the Bretton Woods Agreement of 1944, they constituted central pillars of the global economic order established after World War II by the United States, which played the central role in rebuilding world capitalism following the devastation of the 1920s and 1930s and the wars and revolutionary struggles it produced.

Of course, both of these institutions, together with the Marshall Plan for the restabilisation of war-torn Europe, operated to the economic and strategic benefit of American imperialism.

But while America drew enormous gains from the post-war order, it was not narrowly conceived. There was a recognition in ruling political and economic circles that if American capitalism was to survive, it would have to use the enormous resources at its disposal to ensure the growth and expansion of other capitalist powers, above all, those against which it had fought a bitter and bloody conflict.

Post-war reconstruction enabled the expansion of Germany and turned it once again into the industrial powerhouse of Europe. At the same time, concessions to Japan on the value of its currency -— it was pegged at 360 yen to the dollar -— opened up export markets for its industry. The decision to build trucks and other military equipment in Japan during the Korean War laid the foundations for the development of Japan’s auto industry, as it incorporated, and then developed, the advanced production techniques that had been established in the US.

The industrial and economic capacity of the United States, even when it took reactionary forms as in the case of the Korean War, was utilised to facilitate a new phase of global capitalist expansion—the post-war boom.

What a contrast to the present situation! American capitalism is no longer the industrial powerhouse of the world, ensuring the expansion of the capitalist economy as a whole. Rather, it functions as the global parasite-in-chief, as its rapacious banks, investment houses and hedge funds scour the world for profitable opportunities, engaged not in the production of new wealth, but in the appropriation of wealth produced elsewhere, often via criminal or semi-criminal operations.

In the immediate post-war period, the US was the champion of free trade, recognising that the restrictions and beggar-thy-neighbour policies of the 1930s had produced a disaster. Today, through measures such as the Trans Pacific Partnership and similar arrangements being prepared with regard to Europe, Washington seeks to forge exclusivist agreements aimed at protecting the monopoly position of US corporations. America, Obama has stated, must write the global rules for trade and investment in the 21st century.

American influence in the post-war period was not confined to the immediate economic sphere. Notwithstanding all its contradictory features, American society appeared to have something to offer the world as a whole, which had suffered decades of war, fascism and military forms of rule, along with economic devastation.

Again, the contrast with the present situation could not be starker. American democracy, once held up as a beacon for the rest of the world, is a withered caricature of its former self, no longer capable of concealing the dictatorship of the financial and corporate elites.

Social conditions are characterised by deprivation and state violence, reflected not least in the daily police killings. America has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, and in Detroit, once the centre of the American industrial economy, paying the highest wages, water shutoffs are being imposed. The US government carries out torture, abductions, assassinations and mass spying on its own people and others around the world. The country is ruled by criminals who cannot be held accountable for their crimes.

In the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the removal from the scene of its global rival, the American ruling class was gripped by the idea that while its economic position had been severely weakened -— the stock market crash of 1987 was a harbinger of things to come -— American hegemony could nevertheless be maintained by military means.

But as Frederick Engels had earlier explained in refuting another exponent of “force theory,” the notion that economic developments—the advance of industry, credit and trade—and the contradictions to which they gave rise could be “blown out of existence” with “Krupp guns and Mauser rifles” was a delusion.

The past 25 years of American foreign policy, based on the use of cruise missiles and drones, combined with invasions and regime-change operations grounded on lies, have produced one debacle after another.

Now the chickens are coming home to roost, as other capitalist powers, great and small, begin to conclude that hitching themselves to the American juggernaut is the surest road to disaster. That is the historic significance of their decision to join the AIIB.

How will American imperialism respond? By increasing its military provocations, threatening to plunge the world once again into war.

Charting the rise of American imperialism in the late 1920s, Leon Trotsky noted that in the period of crisis, its hegemony would operate “more openly and more ruthlessly than in the period of boom,” and that it would attempt to extricate itself from its difficulties and maladies at the expense of its rivals, if necessary by means of war.

However there is another, and, in the final analysis, decisive, aspect to the economic decline of American imperialism, marked so powerfully by the events of yesterday.

For decades, the American working class was disoriented by the idea of a continually rising power -— that America’s “best days” were always ahead. Reality is now coming home with ever-increasing force.

Events are shattering the delusions of the past and will propel the American working class on to the road of revolutionary struggle, creating the conditions for the unification of the international working class in the fight for world socialist revolution.

Nick Beams

Article link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/04/01/pers-a01.html

Obama’s cheap shot at China misguided [China Daily]

Posted in Anti-China propaganda exposure, Anti-communism, Australia, Black propaganda, China, China-bashing, China-US relations, Encirclement of China, Japan, Obama, Pentagon, Philippines, Psychological warfare, South China Sea, south Korea, US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War on March 31, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Stephen Harner

2015-1-29

Using the State of the Union address to deliver a “cheap shot”…is what President Barack Obama did on Jan 20, when he declared “…as we speak, China wants to write the rules for the world’s fastest growing region”.

And what he said next was just as provocative: “That would put our workers and businesses at a disadvantage. Why should we let that happen? We should write the rules…” Obama was clearly referring here to the US-crafted Trans-Pacific Partnership, seeking a way to spur the Congress to grant him the “fast track” authority needed to bring talks to conclusion.

That he would allege a competitive threat or rivalry with China, which is not participating in the TPP talks and was never invited to do so, to trigger congressional action evidences once again how the Obama administration has cynically made the myth of a “China threat” a central feature of its “pivot to Asia” political and economic strategy.

When first introduced, this was Pentagon-driven military and security-oriented. Its goal was to maintain US military and political hegemony in the region by reorienting toward China and augmenting through new weapons, protocols, and battle plans, Cold War alliances with Japan, [s]outh Korea, the Philippines, and Australia.

Since then the “pivot” has been embellished and informed by a distinctly neoliberal “universal values” agenda that conflates US political and economic ideology with commercial interests and by preventing any substantive change to the “rules” established in the post-World War II “American century”.

For Obama the only rules that can or should be followed – particularly, in Asia – are those recognized by the United States: “In the Asia-Pacific, we are modernizing alliances while making sure that other nations play by the rules – in how they trade, how they resolve maritime disputes, how they participate in meeting common international challenges….”

Many US readers will find nothing remarkable or untoward in such a statement. They fail to understand how people in Asia read and respond to the same words…

Excerpted / edited by Zuo Shou

Full article link: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2015-01/29/content_19434305.htm