Doing Without Mr. Kim

The Chinese don’t really believe North Korea will collapse after Kim Jong Il passes from the scene:

Beijing isn’t alarmed about North Korea’s stability should Mr. Kim pass from the scene and believes Washington is overplaying the security implications, they said.

“Acting on a belief that Kim is ill and North Korea will descend into chaos invariably affects domestic outcomes in Pyongyang, and that violates China’s own principle of noninterference” in other’s internal affairs, said Zhuang Jianzhong, vice director of the Center for National Strategic Studies at Shanghai’s Jiaotong University. Based on those considerations, Beijing’s default response will be to do nothing, he said.

They’re probably right. Just as the regime in Cuba has shown no signs of falling apart now that Fidel’s on the sidelines, I suspect the Norks can figure out a succession. The Sovs and their satellites collapsed as a result of demoralization, which there’s not much sign of in the holdouts.

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Never Trust Air You Can’t See

The city motto of Los Angeles seems to be China’s national ethos as well, as the smog problem in Asia gets worse:

The brownish haze, sometimes in a layer more than a mile thick and clearly visible from airplanes, stretches from the Arabian Peninsula to the Yellow Sea. In the spring, it sweeps past North and South Korea and Japan. Sometimes the cloud drifts as far east as California.

The report identified 13 cities as brown-cloud hot spots, among them Bangkok, Cairo, New Delhi, Tehran and Seoul, South Korea.

To be fair, it’s obviously not just the Chinese who are contributing to such a large-scale problem. But it illustrates that Bush was onto something when he administered the coup de grace to Kyoto on the grounds that it excluded China and India. Meaningful environmental treaties have to take in the big developing economies too.