By Fareed Zakaria
The tragedy of Korea is that no one really wishes to change the status quo, writes Ian Buruma in Project Syndicate. “China wants to keep North Korea as a buffer state, and fears millions of refugees in the event of a North Korean collapse; the South Koreans could never afford to absorb North Korea in the way that West Germany absorbed the broken German Democratic Republic; and neither Japan nor the US would relish paying to clean up after a North Korean implosion, either.”
“And so an explosive situation will remain explosive, North Korea’s population will continue to suffer famines and tyranny, and words of war will continue to fly back and forth across the 38th parallel.”
China’s Communist Party has achieved something few had thought possible: the construction of a distinct national internet, The Economist says.
“The Chinese internet resembles a fenced-off playground with paternalistic guards. Like the internet that much of the rest of the world enjoys, it is messy and unruly, offering diversions such as games, shopping and much more. Allowing a distinctly Chinese internet to flourish has been an important part of building a better cage. But it is constantly watched over and manipulated.”
For China, key African countries are not just depositories of natural resources. They are useful diplomatic allies, argues Minxin Pei in The National.
“South Africa, for example, is key to China's efforts to bolster its image in Africa, and its president, Jacob Zuma, has not disappointed Beijing.
“Mr Zuma has publicly defended Chinese investments and business practices in Africa. Even less influential African countries may be valuable partners. By deepening its ties with such countries, China may be able to count on their support in its future quarrels with the West over human rights and sovereignty issues.”
Although official campaigning will not begin until early next month, “there are already 20 candidates who have announced their intentions to run, and all indications are that the election season will be a volatile one,” writes Jason Rezaian in the Washington Post.
“The prospect of a wider field of candidates has enlivened a race that most observers had thought would include only conservatives closely aligned with Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. ‘What seems to be happening in the run up to the elections is the shifting of alliances and enmities on an immense scale between a wide range of the political elite – far wider than was predicted by Western analysts even three months ago,’ said Dr. Kevan Harris, a Princeton University sociologist who conducts research on Iran’s economy and travels regularly to the country.”